Gay-Straight Alliance


We hold these truths to be self-evident, that “All men are created equal,” that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

- Thomas Jefferson, one of the founding fathers of the United States

I have been asked leave or been kicked out of two churches because of my sexual orientation. One of the pastors of these churches told my siblings and mother, “treat him as if he were dead.” I believed in God and asked him to be my savior, long before I ever knew I was going to have an attraction to the same sex. I have known no other way of life, so how can this be a sin? And who created the concept of degrees or levels of sin?

God created man in his own image, and humans are real and unique. Our forefathers suggested that we should be all be equal and all have the same basic rights: life, liberty and happiness. Why is that not true today?

Why do elected officials, pastors and leaders of churches get to “play gods”?

The Bible says that the scriptures were inspired by God. Think of the child’s game of telephone. The game starts with one child whispering a thought into the ear of the person next to him, and down the line it goes to the other end. By the time the last person repeats the thought out loud, it is nothing like what the originator said to begin with. God may have intended good things, and once man puts his two cents worth in, it’s totally different than what God started with. History has repeated itself over and over again.

Since time began, mankind has been trying to control minorities, oddities and anything that is out of the ordinary in all aspects and facets of life. Troy Perry, the founder of Metropolitan Community Churches, created a church in 1968 where anyone from any walk of life, sexual orientation, color of skin or belief system could worship the God of their understanding freely. That church exists internationally today; why has it taking mainline churches so long to adopt those same thought processes?

Imago Dei started the journey several years ago to be inclusive, loving, and affirming to LGBTQ community. In some aspects we have gained, and yet we have a long way to go. We lost attendance along the way due to this new directive, but we gain others. I feel we need a balance of inclusiveness, friends of the LGBTQ community and those who identify as LGBTQ under the same roof at 2221 N. Gale Ave., Peoria, IL 61604. We now have an awesome pastor, Josh Lee, who will lead us forward and help us to be totally inclusive, affirming and a loving church where ”all are welcome.”

I encourage you to search for the song “Closer to the Heart” by Rush and listen to the words.

I have wondered for many years how many attendees of Imago Dei really know who I am. You see me as we pass in the hallway, you may smile, maybe even say “hello.” You may recognize I don’t wear jeans and a t-shirt to church, but do you really know me? Did you know my story before today? I have been on the marginalized edge for too long, but I choose to remain silent no longer. I desire for Imago Dei to grow and flourish for the good of all, not just the LGBTQ community!

How can an openly gay man worship and grow spiritually at Imago Dei? Just ask me out for coffee or lunch after church and get to know me; I will be happy to share more of my story and my life with you.


Ed Russell is 58 years old and single. He has a reputation for being the “best-dressed man” at Imago Dei, and considers himself a spiritual being in an earthly body. Ed does furniture repair and restoration, as well as repurposing, and is a teddy bear collector. He wants to start dating again and worship with his significant other at Imago Dei.

Christina Hite