A Pastoral Word
A resolution is coming forward to the General Assembly in July that will define our denomination. The resolution is that "The General Assembly calls upon the Church to recognize itself as striving to become a people of grace and welcome to all God's children though differing in sexual orientation or gender identity, affirming that neither are grounds for exclusion from fellowship or service within the church, and calling upon all expressions of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), as a people of grace and welcome, to acknowledge their support for the welcome of and hospitality to all."
In response to the release of the business docket for the General Assembly, I have asked our elders to once again claim their role as the spiritual leaders of our church and be prayerfully proactive in our response to this resolution by spending time in prayer, in study, and in conversation with each other and with the congregation. This is not just a conversation that is happening within our church.
This is not just a conversation that is happening within our denomination. This conversation is happening across our nation at kitchen tables and communion tables. It is happening in our Supreme Court. It is happening in organizations like the Boy Scouts of America. This conversation is happening and we can no longer pretend that it doesn't concern us. Depending on what the Supreme Court decides, and depending what the Boy Scouts of America decide, we as a congregation will be asked to enter into the conversation as we continue to live out our mission of WELCOME in our community and my hope is that our elders will provide us with some guidance in that conversation.
Another reason I asked the elders to create an atmosphere of conversation surrounding this resolution is that I know a vote within our denomination is coming, a vote that has the potential to divide us as the Body of Christ. As a Disciple, the very thought of this makes my heart hurt. We are people of the table first and foremost. We say that it is not our table, but that it is God's table where all are welcome. And whether we agree with each other or not is not essential for us to break bread with one another. We know and we celebrate that it was God who first welcomed us. It was God who first loved us. We know and celebrate that it was God who first showed us grace. For me as a Disciple, it has never been important for me that people agree with me on everything in the church. What has been important, what has been life giving and life shaping for me as a follower of Jesus Christ is that I know we can all come to the table as brothers and sisters and love one another because God first claimed us as God's very own. And because of this, my deeply felt belief is that after the vote in July, it will be too late for an atmosphere of conversation. My fear is that people will just walk away from each other because we disagree. My fear is that we will bring more division to a hurting world when what we are really called to do is bring healing and wholeness for all of God's children. My fear is that after the vote, we as a church, may be forced into a reactive state with lots of questions and not a lot of answers, and be just as broken as the world to which we are called by the good news.
I know that this process of prayer, study, and conversation will not be an easy one nor will it be a short one but I also know deep in my heart that it is an important one for us as Midway Christian to enter into as followers of Jesus Christ. So as our elders begin this process, I ask of all of you to please keep Midway Christian, to please keep the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ, to please keep the Body of Christ in your prayers as we seek to hear God's voice. May we always be people of the Table first and foremost, and may we always break bread with one another as brothers and sisters in faith, whether we agree with each other or not.