Fayetteville Minister to Open Inclusive Church

Fayetteville Minister to Open Inclusive Church
Staff Photo Nick Brothers Matthew Gibbons, the minister for We Are One, Fayetteville, is hoping to provide an all inclusive church to the people of Fayetteville who are seeking such a place to worship.

Staff Photo Nick Brothers
Matthew Gibbons, the minister for We Are One, Fayetteville, is hoping to provide an all inclusive church to the people of Fayetteville who are seeking such a place to worship.

A minister will soon start a new church in West Fayetteville that strives to accept and include all people regardless of race, religion, sex, age, sexual orientation, sexual identity or cultural background.

Matthew Gibbons, who will be the minister of We Are One, Fayetteville, is known around town for his yoga classes and “Nights of Healing” services he often provides around town.

“I’m just excited to see what can take place if the platform is set for everyone to be welcome and accepted no matter what,” Gibbons said. “I don’t want it to be known as a ‘gay church’ or even a ‘gay-friendly church.’ I just want it to be known as a place of love and pure acceptance and a place to experience the presence of God.”

The first service will be March 6 at 4 p.m. at Unity Fayetteville at 4880 Weddington Dr. and will continue on every first Sunday of every month. The preachings will not focus on devils, hell or sin and instead will focus on Jesus and the love of God, Gibbons said.

The services will be lively and full of music and interaction, Gibbons said. The first service will include special guests Talina Madonna for vocals and Sage Ahava on piano.

Gibbons used to be a Pentecostal minister in Naples, Fla. before being left no choice by his peers but to leave the church for being gay. After moving to Missouri, Gibbons said he experienced God’s presence again after seeing a drag queen move a crowd to tears while singing a heartfelt gospel song in the gay bar he was at.

“It all dawned on me that God does not hate me or is against me but he’s 100 percent for me,” he said. “Throughout these years I’ve met so many people who used to go to church who had either been hurt, kicked out by their church or disowned by their family, people who had committed suicide because their family didn’t accept them.

“To me, enough is enough. It’s time for us to stop preaching hate or love and demonstrating hate. It’s this weird, twisted schizophrenic God we’re talking about that to me isn’t real. If God is all loving, then God is all loving.”

Services are about embracing the spirit of God in the body, speaking in tongues, divine healing and calling upon attendees to feel the presence of God within themselves. However, Gibbons isn’t trying to convert or evangelize anyone.

“One of my favorite things in the world are skeptics,” Gibbons said. “I have no power in myself or ability to heal you, but the one thing I am 100 percent sure of is the presence of God is real and loves absolutely everyone. That’s what I rely on. I can talk, but I can’t heal someone’s shoulder. I can ask God to do it, and what blows me away is sometimes it happens.”

Annette Olsen, the spiritual leader for Unity Fayetteville, said she was honored to help We Are One, Fayetteville to get its feet.

“He has this bountiful way about him,” Olsen said. “He just has an innate gift for making a healing service come together. This is a time of going deeply within and getting in touch with a deeper self that is open to God which opens them up to a healing presence. That’s the way I interpret his services. It’s a lot of high energy and joyful.”

The idea came to him last summer while having a conversation with one of his friends at a Yoga training seminar.

“We were talking about the next step in life, and I said I couldn’t find any churches around here that I felt comfortable in,” Gibbons said. “My friend was like, ‘Well, why don’t you start one?’ I was like there’s no way in the world I’m ever going to start one. But that one conversation stuck with me. By October, I felt like I needed to do this.”

By November, Gibbons had started spreading the word about his idea for We Are One, Fayetteville and starting the process for the 501(c)(3) non-profit status to be a legal church. Luckily, weareonefayetteville.org was available, he said.

“Since I’ve put it out that I’m going to do this, I’ve had people contact me over Facebook saying ‘I’ve been looking for God, but I’m not welcome any place I go, I’m so excited about this.’” Gibbons said.

Brande Flack, secretary for We Are One, Fayetteville, said she has been close friends with Gibbons for 15 years now and watched his journey from his departure with his church to reuniting with spirituality.

“I’m one of the people standing behind him saying we’ve got to do something for people who have had backs turned on them,” Flack said. “Matthew has seen so many people break away from the defining and confining way of the church. He wants to strip that mechanism of the church down and focus on God’s love.”

For more information and updates about We Are One Fayetteville, check out www.facebook.com/weareonefayetteville.

Categories: Music