Blessing upon blessing...

Today is a STUNNING day in the Berkshires:  no humidity, bright sunshine and warm but not hot breezes.  What's more, my morning was spent in a prayerful conversation about crafting an "Open and Affirming" statement for our faith community.  For those who don't know, ONA is a part of a commitment by the United Church of Christ to practice radical hospitality and extravagant welcome to all of God's people - especially those within the LGBTQ realm - who have historically been punished and locked out of full participation in the Body of Christ.  Since 1985, the United Church has been exploring ways of making the promise of equality in Christ Jesus a fact of life.

Our "discernment team" - a doctor, a bookkeeper, an engineer, a social worker and a consultant who helps hospitals and doctors implement "best practices" - met with me for three hours.  After 90 minutes of careful and clear questions and conversation, we came up with the following statement:

As an Open and Affirming community following the teachings of Jesus, we embrace the diversity of God's creation. We welcome people of all sexual orientation, gender identity, family structure, race and abilities.  All are invited to participate fully in the worship and ministry of First Church.

It is is simple and true - it is inclusive and deep - it fits with our sense of calling at this moment in time.  It also advances a spirituality that encourages us to become our best selves in Christ's grace, too.  Our process from here is simple:  a) we will let this statement take root within the discernment team over the next seven days and offer additions and/or corrections as the Spirit sees fit; b) we will share the completed statement with our Council - lay leaders of the congregation - for conversation and support in August; 3) we will hold a congregational meeting in September to secure their endorsement - and then follow it up with an "implementation" retreat later that month.

Interestingly, everyone at today's gathering sensed that at the retreat we want to unpack key ways to make our ONA words flesh within and among us.  We also want to work harder at finding other ways to practice Christ's radical hospitality. Within my soul, it was a day of blessing upon blessing.  Made me think of this...

Comments

Anonymous said…
If the congregation doesn't endorse the ONA statement in Sept will it be implemented anyway or abandoned?
RJ said…
If there isn't congregational support... nothing is forced upon us, ok? Let's see where the Spirit leads, yes? And there's no need to hide in the shadows here; you don't have to be anonymous.

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