The Society for Pentecostal Studies (SPS) is scrambling to make alternative arrangements after the host institution for its annual meeting withdrew just weeks before the gathering is to occur.
Urshan College of Florissant, Missouri, which is affiliated with the United Pentecostal Church (UPCI), was set to host the gathering of the largest and most prominent academic society within the Pentecostal tradition. Citing the presence of a gay activist on the conference speaker schedule, the school withdrew their invitation to SPS on Monday.
Among the scheduled presentations announced two weeks ago for the SPS meeting is a session on gay Hispanic Oneness Pentecostal history by Felipe Agredano. Agredano is a Hispanic Oneness Pentecostal who is also a politically connected LGBT activist.
SPS officials have defended the participation of Agredano as a speaker, despite SPS bylaws placing the society within the tradition of Pentecostal churches – a tradition that historically proclaims the proper context of sexual intimacy to be within marriage between a man and a woman.
“After an effort by both sides to find a way forward, we agreed that the best course of action was to move forward with the annual meeting without Urshan’s role as host,” the SPS Executive Committee wrote to society members earlier this week. “Urshan has offered their apologies and to assist SPS in securing alternate venues and human resources needed for the Conference.”
“There also appears to be misinformation among some Urshan constituents about SPS, our mission, goals, and objectives as a Society,” the SPS officials added. “We regret that it has come to this conclusion.”
The SPS officials appear to have been referencing a vigorous discussion on social media in recent weeks among UPCI members. UPCI General Superintendent David K. Bernard weighed in on Facebook and also addressed a letter to fellow ministers.