This Pastor is Sleeping Outside in the Cold to Represent His Church Excluding LGBT People

Mar 8, 2016

Photo credit: #OpenDoorsUMC

By Camille Beredjick

It’s the job of a church leader to model empathy, kindness and compassion — something that can be hard to do when your church teaches discrimination. But one pastor wants to show his church what it really feels like to be cast away by your congregation.

Rev. Michael Tupper, the pastor of Parchment United Methodist Church in Parchment, Michigan, is calling attention to his church’s exclusion of LGBT people by sleeping outside his home in a tent for 175 consecutive nights. In February. In Michigan.

Tupper’s foray into LGBT activism began last year, when he was charged by church officials for officiating his daughter’s wedding to another woman. The UMC’s swift response showed him how deeply discrimination runs in the church, and he decided to fight back.

After he was brought up on charges by church officials for performing the same-sex union, Tupper pitched a tent outside the office of the man tasked with handling his case, hoping to dissuade him from prosecuting. When the case ultimately moved forward, Tupper returned to Parchment, where he is now vowing to sleep outside his house for 175 consecutive nights in protest — no small feat in Michigan, where snow is a constant and where temperatures often drop to frigid levels in winter.

“Most nights it gets into the 20s. It’s gotten down to 5 degrees,” he said, noting that he sleeps in a sleeping bag tucked inside another sleeping bag. “Yeah it’s cold. But I’ve managed.”

But it’s more than a personal protest, Tupper said — it’s symbolic.

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