“The time has come for the church to become the Good Samaritan, instead of ignoring homosexuals as they suffer at the wayside.” So declared Reverend Richard E. Clark, pastor of the Anglican Church of the Holy Trinity, Calgary, in his Sunday sermon of March 28th, 1965. The sermon caused enough sensation to be reported in time for the daily news on Monday, March 29th.
At a time when homosexuality was not discussed in polite conversation, Clark spent much of his oration describing the status of homosexuals in Canadian society, stating that the church has overlooked the problem and abdicated responsibility to both psychiatrists and government. He suggested to his congregation that they begin to recognize that homosexuals are indeed sinful but no more sinful than “normal” society.
He was inspired to this point of view by Pierre Berton’s 1965 book, The Comfortable Pew: a critical look at Christianity and the religious establishment in the new age. In it Berton makes the case that the homosexual is the modern day equivalent of the leper in our society.
Reverend Clark concluded that, “If the Anglican Church of Canada wishes to make a significant contribution to the work of God then let us announce without hedging we invite you, the homosexuals and lesbians into our pews.”
[Both the clipped article and Berton’s book can be found at the Calgary Public Library. The article was found in the Central Library’s 4th Floor Local History Room]