VIEW MORE PHOTOS | Gentle Spirit Anniversary @ Candler Park

imageThe gay-founded, LGBT-welcoming Gentle Spirit Christian Church added a picnic to its weekly “Church Without Walls” Service on Sunday to celebrate the congregation’s 13th anniversary.

Since 1998, Gentle Spirit and its openly gay pastor Paul Turner (second photo) have welcomed all comers with open arms. The ministry includes work against HIV/AIDS, homelessness, hunger and addiction and promotes the rights and well being of LGBT people and their allies.

imageSince 2006, those efforts include the weekly outdoor Sunday worship service in Candler Park. This week, the congregants hung out afterwards to share hotdogs, hamburgers and stories of their 13-year history during the potluck-style picnic.

“The Gentle Spirit congregation of today looks a little different from the one of 13 years ago,” Turner said in a prepared statement before the event. “We started the church to offer a home to Christians who felt left out of the mainline churches, and as we’ve explored what it means to extend God’s welcome to everyone, we’ve become a truly diverse congregation with members from all walks of life.”

Gentle Spirit’s “Church Without Walls” continues each Sunday at 10:30 a.m. in Candler Park.

Photos by Sher Pruitt