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.

Go Read This Right Now!

3 10 2008

I mean it!  Hie thee hence!

From JX, a self-described 20-something/male/progressive evangelical/seminary student/minister/musician/gay

Here’s a teaser … READ IT AND GO!

Yesterday I heard two people with whom I work very closely insist that folks “decide” to become gay because it’s a “cool” thing to do. Where the hell is this fairy-tale world that they’re living in??? Because I would love to be there! This is one I haven’t really heard before, but they were absolutely convinced that it happens. Of course, I had to sit there in silence rather than speak up for myself and the many others whose deep pain and frustration is trivialized and mocked by this safe attitude that homosexuality is some sort of “fad,” like crocks or Hannah Montana. I say this is a safe attitude to them, because it depersonalizes the issue and lowers it to a place where one thinks she or he can just tell the person dealing with it to “get over it” and “snap out of it.”  When will people realize how bad this hurts, how NOT cool we think it is, and how dehumanizing it is to speak of gays and lesbians in such terms. Loving our neighbor implies that we should not mock them or trivialize their gravest struggles.

Why is it that secular institutions must consistently lead the way in civil rights and equality? How embarassing, and how utterly impotent as a moral and ethical influence is the community who follows Jesus Christ.