Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Our Vital Ministry Journal and other places we may go.

Reach Out
Look Forward
Become MORE Intentional
Welcome Relationships
Demonstrate Love for All

The above were our consolidated responses during our Vital Ministry Journey Celebration on June 29. Those attending affirmed that we are a welcoming congregation that seeks to demonstrate God’s love for ALL people. The consensus was that we could be more intentional about sharing who we are and how we welcome as we look forward to what God is doing with us and in the world around us. Sounds ambitious doesn’t it? But it does sound very much like Arlington Church of the Brethren. 

In late spring, the Church Board (our elected decision-making body that does the work of the church between annual all-church council meetings) decided to use the same small group process of the VMJ to continue to pursue our welcome of LGBT individuals. I have written a small group study in the style of the VMJ Bible Study for us to use. It is one session, with an optional second session. 

Using this study our small groups will identify the Biblical basis of hospitality that we have always been taught and extend that to a congregation decision of whether to join the Brethren-Mennonite Supportive Community Network. The ‘SCN’ requires a church-wide vote of members and denotes us as the welcoming congregation we already are while also setting us aside as a church willing to walk with other congregations as they discern their own answer to the question of welcoming and supporting LGBT individuals.

The second session, if groups choose to meet a second time, will engage conversation around the current issue of supporting me in performing legal same-gender marriages and the use of the church sanctuary for weddings. Even in the Commonwealth of Virginia, the ‘times they are a changing’!

I recently attended a clergy-lay luncheon of the People of Faith for Equality in NoVa and listened to five high school student speak about their experiences of being LGBT in school and church. In schools many had the support of a strong Gay-Straight Alliance, but in many churches, the silence, implied judgment, or spoken condemnation of who they were was painful. It brought tears to my eyes and still does each time I recall it. Of all places on earth, should not the church be a place where people are affirmed as children of God, created in the image of God, whomever they are? 

I have always found ACoB to be such a place. Even if we differ on specific aspects of justice “issues”, we find common ground in our love and acceptance of all people.  As we use our affirmed identity to Reach Out, Look Forward, Become MORE Intentional, and Welcome Relationships, we will Demonstrate Love for All God’s Children.  Can I get an amen?

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