A “Reconciling Congregation” is a phrase that is used in our United Methodist denomination. It recognizes a series of important, intense and sometimes difficult conversations around the topic of human sexuality and our thoughts, feelings and beliefs as followers of Jesus Christ. Our conversations happened here a few years before I became your pastor. They resulted in the declaration that we intend to be a congregation which believes that God creates and accepts all human beings. We also believe that one’s sexual orientation is not a choice one makes, it is an essential part of who God created us to be.
Another way the term “Reconciling Congregation” can be translated is that we want to be a congregation that celebrates life, and in these times, we specifically want to be a safe, welcoming, accepting and affirming place for members of the GLBTQ community. This is not an Us/Them divide….We human beings are all on a common journey of life and faith and in this Christian community, we affirm the gifts, including the gift of leadership, everyone has to share.
This does not mean that we have any intention of becoming an exclusive community. It means that the conversation about human sexuality includes: Reading scripture not as the literal or inerrant “words” of God but as the inspired word of God that needs to be translated and then lived out in every time. Understanding sexual identity as a part of how God created each one of us. And sexual orientation that is other than heterosexual is not sinful.
In my time as your pastor, we have not hidden this identity. I’ve spoken, I think, clearly about it. Every new member class now spends time on what this phrase means for our congregation. We have also continued to be a part of the Reconciling Ministry Network, an organization of area reconciling UM churches. However, we have not been as active or visible about this important value we share as is needed. That is about to change.
On Sunday at the close of worship, we will bless and then raise a rainbow flag that will fly and be visible to every car that passes by and everyone who walks along Scenic Heights Rd. This important step has come from the inspiration of our Social Action team and the approval of several levels of leadership including our Church Ministry Council.
Just so I can be clear… this step also comes with my full knowledge, participation and support. I believe expressing this important value of our congregation in this very recognizable manner is a one way we fulfill our calling to be disciples of Jesus Christ. May this value we share summon us to recognize the beauty of all life… and the hope for the moment in God’s kind of time… when together all creation will experience God’s love and acceptance.
Keep the Faith,