As we continue to explore together we have noticed several common themes (and questions) arising with regard to our possibly becoming an open and affirming church (accepting to all regardless of sexual orientation). One of those themes is “assuming” we already are ONA by virtue of our being a UCC church and/or even that because we are Christian we accept all people. Hmmm.
Please be reminded that how we interpret being “Christian” is problematic given the broad range of definitions and varied traditions of what it means to be “Christian.” In his book, Torn, Justin Lee on first coming to terms with being gay went to his (conservative) pastor to seek counsel and his pastor said he could have gay thoughts and still be welcome in his church but once he acted on them he would no longer be included. This is just one example among thousands of how the Christian faith has been used to justify discrimination against (and even demonize) homosexuals. In other words, the Christian church has contributed to the problem and thus (we the progressive) have a special responsibility for its solution.
It is estimated that 10% of the population in this country identify with the LGBTQ culture. That’s 28 million people which is reason enough to see how we can improve the way LGBTQ people are treated as fellow human beings. Regardless of our own personal feelings, we ought to, as a faith community, be concerned that these people are treated with the same respect to which all people are entitled. Not to decide to specifically include LGBTQ as among those welcomed into a community of faith will be assumed to mean that they are excluded.
Simply put, many baptized Christians who identify with LGBTQ have been betrayed, scorned, rejected, and humiliated by some Christian community somewhere and therefore do not trust the church to welcome them. They need to see some visible and unambiguous sign of welcome in a local church before they will risk becoming involved again. It’s not enough to assume we are all inclusive and welcoming just because we think we are by virtue of being Christian. We need to express it and do so in a public way.
Thanks to those of you who have made an effort to attend our recent listening sessions. A lot of good conversation has come out of our time together. PLEASE IF YOU HAVE NOT ATTENDED, OR READ THE INFORMATION PROVIDED, OR READ THE BOOK TORN, PLEASE MAKE AN EFFORT TO DO SO. IT IS VERY IMPORTANT THAT YOU ARE ENGAGED IN THE PROCESS!!!!!!!!!!
Question Box: It’s actually a “Question Bucket” (thanks to Christine Schultz who made it). There is a rainbow colored bucket located in the church parlor for submitting thoughtful and respectful questions regarding the ONA process and the colorful arena that is the LGBTQ reality. Any and all questions will be addressed to the best of our abilities at the next scheduled listening session. You can identify yourself or remain anonymous.