Welcoming Churches

30 03 2009

Over the weekend, the Diocesan LGBT Concerns Committee on which I sit took a trip to the northern reaches of the Diocese of New York for an open forum on what the committee is doing and to listen to the needs of the LGBT folks up there.  There was quite a bit of talk about what it means to be a welcoming church, not just for LGBT folks, but for everyone.  I mean, when we say “The Episcopal Church Welcomes You” we’re saying that The Episcopal Church is for EVERYONE.

As we are a fairly liberal diocese, one would think that all of our parishes would welcome everyone.  But, sometimes that is not the case.  Someone posed the question along the lines of “Is there someone who I wouldn’t want to sit with in church?” when trying to determine how welcoming is a given parish.  I came close to wanting to take that a step further and say “Is there someone sitting in church today that I would not want to speak to during coffee hour?”  It is one thing to worship and pray with just about anyone, but it’s quite another to engage that person directly over a cup of coffee.   The vast majority of Jesus’ ministry did not take place in the temple or in the synagogue, but by engaging the world in all its messiness.

So how welcoming are we?  I’m not just talking about if a trans person walks into church, or a gay or lesbian couple gave each other a smooch during the passing of the peace .. I’m also talking about a migrant worker, a person of color, or someone who is definitely not like the folks we normally see sitting with us on a Sunday.



2 responses

31 03 2009

It gets very difficult when you are faced with someone who represents something that caused hurt in your own life, someone the same as someone who hurt you in the past.

And then there are the real tests – like paedophiles and rapists.

The challenges of inclusivity, both emotional and practical, affect everybody, no matter what their theological views. A person who can say they are truly inclusive of all people is either a saint, an idiot or a liar.

4 04 2009

If it is any consolation there are still a few of us straights who fight for equality too.

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