By Curtis File
SEOUL, Aug. 13 (Yonhap) — On Sunday evenings, the Rev. Daniel Payne begins his sermon beneath the glint of a disco ball. Standing before a small congregation on love seats and bar stools, he talks about piety, prayer and prejudice — a topic his flock is all too familiar with.
They are members of the Open Doors Community Church, a congregation of mostly gay and lesbian-identified Christians who reject the notion that their sexuality conflicts with their faith. Unwelcome at more traditional houses of worship, the church has taken up space in the Moonlight Tavern in the back alleys of Itaewon, a district of Seoul known as a centerpiece of the foreign community.
“I want to give thanks for bringing this group together,” says Payne, clad in khaki shorts and a shirt with a clerical collar. “It’s great that we can have such an open community of people who can just come as they are and just love, and know that God loves them, too.” It’s a scene of odd juxtapositions.
Some tattooed and pierced, some in button-ups and ties, the group is a mix of expats and native Koreans. Against a backdrop of black-lit vodka bottles and martini-glass chandeliers, they recite traditional prayers, sing modern Christian-rock anthems and participate in group discussions about the challenges of living a Christ-like life.