Everyone is invited to read this. My intended audience, however, is not comprised of our church’s members and friends. I am writing this to those who do not know our community of faith. That said, let’s see where this goes.
I don’t want to bore you. I could tell you that we are associated with the United Church of Christ and that we are Trinitarian in our understanding of the nature of God. It’s important to us, but may not mean all that much to you. So let me cut to the bottom line. In our tradition you are “free.” Sounds nice, doesn’t it? It means we don’t have a set of doctrinal precepts that you have to believe, but a Christ we all seek to serve. And it means that you can hold your own opinion about God’s purpose not only for your life, but for the life of the church. There isn’t anyone who can demand uniformity of opinion – not the pastor, the denomination or your fellow believers. Sounds rather radical, right? Well, it is. But true freedom is not found in making all things equally compelling, but in finding the power to pursue your purpose. That is a freedom that can unite us. Here are some of the uniting principles that hold us together:
- We are Christians. We seek to do the will of God and at times we may argue what God’s will looks like. Nevertheless, the central motivation for the church as a whole is to follow in Christ’s way which has never been easy and requires a spirit of forgiveness and humility. To assert that my way is God’s way is to place myself on the same plane as my maker. The true challenge is to live in a freedom that serves to unite us by our desire to pursue God’s will and the voice of others helps in that discerning process.
- We seek biblical guidance. We look to scripture to guide us in determining our view of God and what it is God would have us do. Our freedom, then, is not to choose between equally compelling choices, but to work together, with scripture as our guide, in determining God’s will for our church.
- We are imperfect. No one can lay claim to the “Truth” with a capital “T.” We are all creatures of our particular time and place. To say that a 21st century North American male is going to see the exact same truth in the Bible as a mother of two living in sub-Sahara Africa is ludicrous. Our mortal limitations make any one’s particular truth partial at best. So we are not perfect. Which is refreshing. It requires a humility that comes from knowing all our knowledge is partial and that our judgments must be tempered by the fault of our shared imperfection.
- We care. Sounds simple, right? Who doesn’t care? I suppose everyone cares about those they love even if they have maladaptive ways of showing it. But the care we seek to enshrine is the care Christ embodied. He was crucified not because He blessed the status quo or saddled up the power elite of His day. He cared for the least and the lost, the bruised, the shattered, the poor, the weak, those who have lost their way amidst the sirens of the world’s distractions. It is to this effort we are called. Do we measure up to such high standards? No. But as the poet said; A man’s [sic.] reach should exceed his [sic.] grasp or what’s a heaven for.
I am sure that is not all that can be said, but I hope it gives you a sense of what shapes our church’s shared spiritual journey.
We are an Open & Affirming congregation. This means that we welcome any and all who seek to follow Jesus regardless of their sexual orientation. It also means that we do not find love of another human being to be sinful if it is not heterosexual. Remember what I said above? This congregation did a long and extensive study of this issue. Not everyone sees it the same way. But as a church it was decided to stand with those who were once shunned.
So if you are looking for a spiritual home, one that promotes and defends freedom among its members and is attempting to live out the will of God in this time and place, we invite you to join us. But our ultimate prayer for us all is that God will move in our lives that our lives might reflect more closely the perfect love and judgment of God.
Peace Be With You,