What does OPEN and AFFIRMING Mean?
We are a Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) congregation that welcomes persons of all gender expressions and sexual orientations to the table of Christ’s communion and to the full life and leadership of the Christian Church.
We do not use these attributes as a barrier to communion, membership, service, leadership, or employment in our ministry, nor as a barrier among those served.
A ministry is OPEN when it commits to communicating its welcome publicly.
A ministry is AFFIRMING when it commits to preaching and teaching a gospel which understands that God does not reject or condemn people solely for their gender expression or sexual orientation.
Does every member have to be open and affirming?
We are Disciples, after all, and we don’t expect every member of our congregations to agree about much of anything!
Open & Affirming is an attribute of the congregation or ministry as a whole: what it teaches and preaches, how its members treat one another, how its members welcome newcomers, whom it serves, and what policies it adheres to when hiring, evaluating, and compensating staff
Graceful engagement is a commitment to listen and honor another person’s faith. When we disagree with another graceful engagement invites them into further conversation. We don’t argue or debate, rather we honor where they are and invite them one small step at a time into deeper conversation.
Graceful engagement doesn’t use a resource to say “No, you’re wrong, and here’s the resource that explains why.”
Rather, graceful engagement encourages conversation; and when a question arises, graceful engagement offers a resource to answer the question – and to nurture the next question.
On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
“What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii[e] and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
"Go and do likewise"
Luke 10:25-37 (NIV)
Messages from Our Pastor
Preparing this message was the most difficult of the series so far. Emotions overwhelmed me multiple times as I researched the topic. It’s only fair to warn you that the same may happen to you as you listen.
Back in AD 60, I choose to believe that Paul’s letter to the church in Rome worked; that it had the intended impact and harmonized the believers who were divided on issues of conscience and conviction. How much more beautiful, then, would it be if his words from two thousand years ago were similarly used today to help reconcile the church with the LGBTQ community.
What a powerful reversal that would be of how his words have been used in the past. May we one day be able to reimagine Paul’s opening words in Romans 1:16: For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes … to the straight, the gay, the lesbian, the bisexual, transgender, and queer.