Pastor David has been recognized with a national honor, the 2015 Voice in the Wilderness Award for “persons or groups who, despite their isolation in wilderness situations, take risks to proclaim the rightness of inclusion of all persons in the community of the church.”
The Reconciling Ministries Network, a national advocacy group for the rights of people of all sexual orientations and gender identities, will present the award at its national convocation in San Antonio, Texas on August 8th, 2015.
This is not only a proud moment for Pastor Felten, but for the whole congregation at The Fountains. A Reconciling Congregation since 2013 and a host of regular PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) meetings since 2011, the Fountains has been the lone theological leader in Fountain Hills speaking for the rights of LGBTQ individuals. In 2014, Nelda Majors and Karen Bailey, members of The Fountains, were the first couple to receive a same-sex marriage license in Arizona.
In part because of Pastor Felten’s support of a nondiscrimination ordinance in Fountain Hills and for his advocacy of Progressive Christianity, eight fundamentalist churches in Fountain Hills joined together in 2015 for a six-week sermon series to try to discredit Progressive Christianity and LGBTQ acceptance. They took out large ads in the local paper and hung banners in front of their churches aimed at Progressive Christianity in general and specifically at Rev. Felten and his progressive Biblical teaching.
In the face of this criticism, Rev. Felten has remained gracious and has leveraged the publicity surrounding the local theological bullying to further promote the values of progressive theology. He stands strong in his faith and his commitment to justice and to his congregation, noting that, despite recent victories for Marriage Equality, there’s still much work to be done in dismantling the discriminatory practices enshrined in our churches, the law, and our culture. Pastor Felten is no stranger to resistance for taking a prophetic stance: he is also a founding member of “No Longer Silent: Clergy for Justice,” an outspoken voice working for LGBTQ rights both in the church and in the community at large for nearly twenty years.
For continuing to support LGBTQ rights while enduring fierce opposition from fellow clergy in and around the Phoenix area, Pastor David Felten is presented with the Reconciling Ministry Network’s “Voice in the Wilderness” award for 2015.
David is particularly thankful to the people of The Fountains for their support and encouragement of the work in which he has been involved, adding, “This award is a recognition of the faithful witness of the entire Fountains faith community.”