For some time now, thanks to our hospitality team, Plymouth Church has had a rug in our entryway that reads “Extravagant Welcome” which sends a message to anyone who enters that “no matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey you are welcome here.” As the process of exploring our becoming an OPEN AND AFFIRMING CHURCH has continued, one remark we keep hearing is “I thought we already were welcoming to LGBT people.” This remark comes with the assumption that due to our affiliation with the United Church of Christ and its long standing policy of non-discrimination that by virtue of our covenant with the UCC that we are an open and affirming church. Not so.
The other common theme running among us is “Well, we’re a friendly church and we already are welcoming. So why do we need to bother going through the process and have a vote?” Again, this is a fair assessment but still doesn’t answer some important questions or address some critical issues. Below is a useful article provided by the national (UCC) Open and Affirming Coalition (ucc.org). Please read it carefully….
All Are Welcome isn’t enough – “Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people of faith often experience emotional and spiritual injury in churches that condemn their capacity to love and seek love. Because they’ve learned that “All Are Welcome” usually doesn’t apply to them, they can’t assume that any church will be safe for them and their families.
A public welcome by an Open and Affirming (ONA) church sends a clear message to LGBT seekers (and members) that they have a home in the United Church of Christ. ONA churches do experience net growth. When new ONA churches attract new members, they are not all gay, many of them are often young straight couples who identify with the values ONA represents, and want their children to learn the faith in a welcoming church.”
In the coming months, as we continue to explore this together as a congregation we will learn that for every biblical reference that historically has been used to condemn LGBTQ people there are 3 or 4 that affirm them. Here a few examples:
- Accept one another, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.” (Romans 15:7)
- There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28)
- For Christ, having received, not one or two of us, but all together, has thus connected us, so that we ought to cherish one another.” (John Calvin)
ONA Listening Session #1 – February 26 @ 11:30-12:30 (in the sanctuary)
Book Study: Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-vs-Christian Debate by Justin Lee. During Lent Pastor Bob will be conducting a book study on the book Torn. Chapter by chapter discussions will take place on Sunday mornings @ 8:30 with the possibility of an online chat as well. Those interested in participating can either purchase the book on their own (amazon.com) or we can order one for you.