PLNU student chaplain steps down after acknowledging he is gay
by NEAL PUTNAM
Published - 04/06/11 - 03:42 PM | 15782 views | 0 0 comments | 17 17 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The elected student chaplain at Point Loma Nazarene University (PLNU) resigned his position April 1 — just 12 days after he told a church forum he is gay. The forum is also now without a place to meet.

Todd Clayton, 21, was elected by PLNU students for two years in a row and he acknowledged his homosexuality during a forum at the First Church of the Nazarene adjacent to the college at 3901 Lomaland Drive.

“He’s tired,” said a female friend of Clayton’s on Sunday.

She said Clayton did not resign because of pressure from the conservative university administration.

Clayton, a senior who will be graduating next month, could not be reached for comment directly. The announcement of his resignation was made in chapel before the student body Friday.

On March 20, Clayton came out of the closet, saying, “Yes, the rumors are true … I’m gay.”

Clayton made the announcement in front of about 340 people who had gathered at the “All God’s Children” forum, a group in discussions on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues.

That forum lost a place to meet after John Denney, the conservative denomination’s southern district superintendent, told Pastor Dee Kelley the group should not meet in the church again.

On Monday, Denney told The Beacon he initially approved the group to meet at the church, but later said his direction was in response “to concerns [that] the group meeting … had become a ‘homosexual advocacy’ group, which would mean that Pastor Dee Kelley and First Church could be charged with hosting/sponsoring a gathering that was in direct conflict with the teachings of the Church of the Nazarene.”

Denney said the March 20 forum when Clayton said he was gay “served to validate that concern” of the church.

It was Kelley who told the forum March 20 “the church needs to be a safe place to engage these topics.”

He told a reporter Sunday he still believes this.

The group had been meeting mostly at First Church for more than three years. Their last meeting Sunday drew 22 people. The campus has 2,400 enrolled students.

A group facilitator said the group would meet again, possibly in private homes.

Clayton has been accepted at Princeton Theological Seminary and plans to become a minister. He told the group March 20 he “probably won’t be doing ministry in this denomination. My commitment is to be celibate while I’m here.”

The university requires all students to abstain from sexual relations, alcohol and tobacco products. Gay students in the past were expelled, but some of them were able to transfer to another Nazarene college in another state.

Clayton told the forum he prayed to be straight for many years.

“Change me. Make me normal,” Clayton said during the March 20 forum. “I prayed every evening. It didn’t change me,” he said, adding, “I no longer pray that prayer.”

“Thanks be to God that he has made me gay. I am gay. I am Christian. I will continue to live in that manner,” said Clayton, who received a standing ovation at the forum.

Days later, university President Bob Brower sent an e-mail to all students, saying they need to “treat each other with respect, kindness and grace, regardless of positions held.”

His e-mail also said “the church continues to firmly hold the position that a homosexual lifestyle is contrary to the Scriptures … all forms of sexual intimacy that occur outside the covenant of heterosexual marriage are sinful distortions of the holiness and beauty God intended for it.”

The student newspaper, The Point Weekly, published an interview with Clayton on March 21, in which Clayton told administrators of his orientation. He also described frustration about “double standards,” adding, “I never signed anything when I came into office or when I came into school that said I wouldn’t be gay.”

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