Growing up, LGBTQ issues just weren’t discussed in Rev. Melanie Vaughn-West’s Baptist faith community. No one would preach anything negative, but they also would never make strong appeals for LGBTQ rights as a matter of social justice. That changed when Melanie came to Decatur’s Oakhurst Baptist Church in 1999, during her second year of seminary at Emory University. She says Oakhurst was at the forefront of advocating for human rights on a broad scale, and there were openly LGBTQ leaders within the church. She soon knew this was a faith community that she could make a home.
“This is the kind of Christian that I want to be,” Melanie said. “It’s a Christianity that is about affirming the dignity of every person, working toward that, and being proactive in the world in terms of all kinds of issues of justice. We don’t want our faith to oppress anyone as we wouldn’t want anyone else’s to oppress us.”