The Star Online: Gay Pastor Sparks Uproar: Rev Oyoung Wenfeng (Aug 10)

Friday, August 10, 2007

KUALA LUMPUR: A controversy has erupted among the Christian community over what they claim is an attempt by a self-confessed gay pastor to set up a church here.

For the past week, protest e-mail and SMSes have been sent to Rev Ou Yang Wen Feng, a Malaysian pastor who serves at the Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) in New York. He has been back here for about a week.

According to the MCC homepage, the church is part of an international movement of Christian churches reaching out to all, including homosexuals, bisexuals and transsexuals.

Ou Yang, 37, has drawn much flak from Christians for his plan to hold a Sunday service at a hotel this week.

He came out of the closet about his homosexuality last year and is said to be the first pastor in Malaysia to do so.

Ou Yang states that his proposed church would serve all people, not just homosexuals.
A columnist in Sin Chew Daily, Ou Yang went to further his studies in the United States on the daily’s scholarship in the 90s.

When contacted yesterday, Ou Yang said he was merely trying to set up a church “where everybody felt safe and welcomed”.

It is unfair to label it a gay church, he said, adding that the hate-mail had hurt him.

“This church is not limited to gays but serves all people. This will be an active church. We have so many community-centred plans, such as assisting the poor, charity work and upholding justice,” he said.

Ou Yang noted that the New York church served food to 5,000 homeless people and hoped to launch similar programmes here. He plans to return to Malaysia for good in 2010.

He credits his former wife for giving him strength to be true to himself, acknowledging that she had endured much anguish during their seven-year, childless union.

Asked if his church would solemnise same sex marriages, he replied: “Same sex marriages are illegal in Malaysia, so how can I perform them? However, I will bless the union.”

Ou Yang said that his talk in Penang last week received much opposition from “faceless parties”. However, the talk saw a full house of about 200 people instead of the initial estimate of 60.

“Many are just curious about me. They ask me many things about homosexuality and my life. They just want to know more and not to be converted by me,” he said.

The National Evangelical Christian Fellowship Malaysia secretary-general Rev Wong Kin Kong, when contacted, acknowledged the proposed worship on Sunday had sowed anxiety among Christians.

“One of the reasons for the emotional reaction is because Christians do not want others to assume they condone such a thing,” said Wong.

He added that the churches could not accept Ou Yang’s version of the church because “it is clear that the Bible prohibits a sexual relationship between people of the same sex. If a person condones same sex marriages, it is definitely violating Christian principles.”

Wong said the churches had always welcomed all kinds of people, including homosexuals.

“It is the deviant sexual behaviour we do not condone. We cannot stop him wanting to set up such a kind of church, but the evangelical churches will inform followers of our stand and advise them not to follow this teaching,” he said.