CEP: First Response!

I am pleased as punch to announce that the church email project has already received its first response (actually, first two responses, but I’m going to be splitting them into two separate posts due to length).

This reply was sent from the pastor of the local UCC church, and its verdict: positive.

Feel free to ignore my childish commentary.  I’ll be displaying the entire message below.

Hi there,

I’m so glad you reached out to me, and I give thanks for your interest in [church name redacted].  Email is not a very good medium for this discussion.  I would be happy to meet with you to have some conversation about it and at place you feel comfortable.

I had a feeling somebody might say that, and I’d really rather not.  But at least he’s friendly.

Let me begin by saying that if you are looking for a church that lifts up and adheres to several issues of doctrinal belief, then we are probably not the faith community for you.  In the Spirit of Disciple of Christ churches, which we are a part, perhaps the phrase, “No creed but Jesus,” is appropriate.  At [name redacted], we have a saying, “less religion, more Jesus.”

I tend to emphasize the unconditional love of our God most clearly realized in Jesus the Christ.  We also speak of faith as a journey, that we welcome all wherever they are on their journey, but that we help people grow spiritually.

In my own faith, I am certainly grounded in Christ, and often speak on discipleship, of giving your all to God and finding life (eternal life knowing God).  You may want to listen to some of my sermons … it should give you a taste of my passion for the Lord.

At [name redacted], we make a big deal about hospitality and welcome, and being Open and Affirming is a huge part of who we are.  You may have stumbled upon our Open and Affirming statement on the website:

[Name redacted] is an Open and Affirming congregation, embracing diversity and affirming the dignity and worth of every person, since we are all created in God’s image. We welcome into full membership and participation in the Body of Christ persons of every race, ethnic background, age, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, physical or mental ability, socio-economic background, marital status and faith background. We welcome all to share in the life, leadership, ministry, fellowship, worship, sacraments, responsibilities and blessings of participation in our congregation.

The dude knows how to insert links into an email!  I’m impressed.

Anyway, as noted in my previous post in this series, I was aware beforehand that this church considers itself ONA — but I don’t always trust generalized claims when it comes to support for asexuality, so it’s good to hear that they actually mean it in this case.  Check it out:

Please note the phrase, “gender identity and expression, sexual orientation.”  Whether you are attracted to people of the opposite gender, the same gender, or to no one at all, it does not make a difference.  You are a beautiful child of God.  We also are inclusive of transgender.  We don’t judge—at least we don’t intend to.

Good to know.

We do support same gender marriage as well as opposite-gender marriage.

He hasn’t directly acknowledge bisexuality, but it’s nice that he didn’t call it “gay marriage”.

For those who come to me wanting me to offer God’s blessing on their marriage, I often speak about marriage as a kind of “calling.”  Are they being led by God to make a life-long covenant with this person to be their life-partner?  That’s what is important.  And I would counsel anyone considering marriage to think and pray about the role of sex in their relationship, whether they have sex or not.

And if someone is feeling called by God to be single, then who am I to judge?

Same goes for kids … are you called to have children?

Again, I am open to visiting with you to have a conversation.  I hope I’ve answered your questions.  May God bless you on your journey!  I would guess that you are searching right now, in discernment about some of these issues.  We do our best to offer safe space for folks.  One of the reasons we are so open is that we believe that if a person feels safe and comfortable enough to be real, to even be vulnerable, then God can really work in their life.

Let me know if and how I can help you.

[closing, name, and contact information]

This is remarkably supportive and considerate.  Score one for the LGBT-friendly churches.

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