The History of Open Arms Fellowship
Pastor Graham Douglas-Meyer
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me– watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill- fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
Matt 11:28-30 The Message Bible
Why did I start Open Arms Fellowship?
You are very welcome to this page. As you may have already read Open Arms Fellowship Australia is an Independent Pentecostal Family Church located in Perth, Western Australia. We welcome everyone and anyone who has a love for Christ without fear of judgement. Open Arms also welcomes GLBTIQ People, their friends and supporters.
Open Arms Welcomes those, who like myself have been told that they do not fully belong, or have been made to feel unwelcome, or under-valued by other congregations and churches. I believe that this is a church where everyone can come to Learn those “unforced rhythms of grace;” to be a place where the very people that Jesus spent most of his time in ministry with are valued.
Why do I believe that I was prompted by the Holy Spirit to start this ministry? Well that question has a number of answers to it that would probably take quite some time. In fact it would take my lifetime. Most of those Questions are answered in my new book “You Shall Walk in the Dark Places.” that is currently looking for a publisher.
Since I returned to church attendance 3 and a half years ago (In 2010) I have sensed a return of the call to ministry. After faithful attendance at a local church I was eventually told that because of my sexuality I was not entitled to become a member; that as they had introduced, what I refer to as a new “Holiness Code,” I wasn’t even welcome to assist with taking up the offering or even serving people tea and coffee.
I was saddened and began praying for God to provide a local church where I could fellowship and that would allow the gifts that God has allowed me the use of, to be used. I had been praying for some time (eighteen months) for God to get someone to start a new work; I was hearing of amazing things that were happening in the East of Australia and was waiting for something similar to begin here in Perth.
Every time I had the idea to start one myself I thought: “That’s just me! I’m no Pastor.” Yet every time the idea of a welcoming and affirming church came to mind I had the same prompting, over and over again.
I had been writing my autobiography* for the past 3 years, at that time, and had given draft copies to a select group of people to proofread for me and a number of comments, independent of one another confirmed for me that I still had a call to ministry.
Then in April 2013 over the period of 4 days three independent things occoured that provided confirmation that I should take that step to set up this church; including the provision of the name and the image of Christ, arms open wide and the verse from Matthew’s Gospel above.
I announced a date for the first meeting, I was joined in the setup phase by a friend and as the time drew nearer the doors and opportunity for this work to begin presented themselves.
The weekend before we were due to hold our first meeting Tony and Peggy Campolo were to be in town. Tony I had remembered hearing about from my bible college days and I had in recent times joined his Red Letter Christian Movement. I had read about the wonderful work that Peggy had been doing with Andrew Marin in Chicago and was interested in having the opportunity to meet with them, at the end of the meeting on the Sunday that I read they would be attending in the church I had been attending.
I just hoped that I could say “Hello”, introduce myself and thank them for being such a blessing to me over the years. So, I contacted them through the RLCM web page contact form. I was so surprised that I actually received a response, never mind the content of the email I received.
I had outlined that Open Arms Fellowship would be starting the week after they were here in Perth and that I was a new Gay Pastor who would appreciate a brief moment of their time.
I was informed that some time would be allocated for me to meet with them and they just needed to know what service I would be attending so that they could look out for me on their itinerary. I was overjoyed and responded to let their office manager know.
A week before they were due to be here I received an URGENT email from their office asking me if I would be able to meet them briefly at their hotel before the service. I called on the phone and their office manager informed me that there was nothing wrong. It was only that they believed that what we had to discuss would be best done in a more intimate setting. That it would have to be brief, before they were to be picked up to go to the service. Needless to say I felt very privileged and agreed.
The Friday afternoon before that Sunday meeting I received a phone call that just blew me away. It was Peggy herself calling to ask me if I would join them for breakfast the next morning as it would give them more time with me and we could share a meal with them. You could have picked me up from the floor.
During that meal we talked and shared and I listened, very intently to the sage advice I was being given. I received so much encouragement and confirmation about both the need for and the step that I was taking to start this ministry. As we prayed together and as we eventually seperated I came away determined to be faithful.
I have made myself available, and I believe that God will build the work. I hope you will be encouraged to join us for worship, fellowship and teaching from the scripture. May you be blessed so that you can be a blessing and may you receive Love so that you may be a greater giver of Love.
* My Autobiography “You Shall Walk in the Dark Places” was published in June 2014, It is available online at Amazon.com as both Hardcover and Kindle. It can be bought from iTunes and Barnes and Noble in the US. Signed copies can be obtained by contacting me through the contact form on this site. A Softcover edition will be produced in the not too distant future.