This coming Sunday, the church where I serve will be voting on whether or not to become what is called "Open and Affirming" in our denomination, which means accepting all people into the full life of the church, including LGBT people. Over the last few months, people in our church have been sharing their perspectives on why we should do this, and I've been meaning to post them here, but I just never got around to it. With a little less than a week to go, however, here they are. This one was in our church newsletter on October 12.
The Administrative Board has approved the following change to the church by-laws that outlines what our church means when it seeks to welcome all people. This by-laws change will be voted on by the congregation at the Annual Meeting on November 21.
“First Christian Church of St. Joseph is open to and affirming of all people whatever their gender, race, age, culture, ethnic background, sexual orientation, economic circumstance, family configuration, or difference in ability. All who seek to follow Christ are welcome into our community to share fully in its life and ministry.”
The statement, if taken seriously, is a challenge to our church as we seek to welcome all people as Christ welcomes us. Such a welcome may mean moments of discomfort, changes to policies or even facilities and potential for misunderstandings as we seek to welcome the groups of people mentioned above, but such a welcome also offers us possibilities for joy as we experience the grace of Jesus Christ in new ways. This week Bev Grienke shares her thoughts:
I’m Glad I Found First Christian Church!
By Bev Grienke
Since coming to First Christian Church in the summer of 2007 and joining it later that year, I have been so happy to be a part of such an open-minded community of faithful people. I am glad we are voting on a change to our by-laws that explicitly states whom we will welcome. I am especially glad this change states clearly our welcome of gay and lesbian people. I am hopeful that we will vote as a church to be welcoming and inclusive in such a wonderful way.
I know gay people who feel they must keep their sexual orientation a secret because of the judgment and persecution that would come with openness. I also know people who are part of the LGBT community who are open about their sexuality and I hear the derogatory comments and see the prejudice shown against them by some who do not accept their openness and honesty. One of my best friends has a wonderful son who is gay. She has shared with me her fear for his safety because of the hatred many people have toward gay men.
At this point in my life, I could not be part of a church which did not reach out to and fully accept males and females of the LGBT community. And by this, I don‘t mean a church which tells gay people, “We accept you in your sinfulness.” That does not go far enough. I want to be part of a church which believes all people are created by God and each person is the sexual orientation that God made him or her to be. We are all children of God. We are all equal. We are all who and what we are supposed to be.
I'm glad that I found First Christian Church in St. Joseph!