I pastor a small community in the heart of the Bible-Belt. The following email conversation occurred a couple of weeks ago. Given the conversation and the much deserved push-back from my friend, I read the following to the community I pastor a few Sundays ago…
I got this e-mail from a friend that I work with today. I know the friend that she is talking about. Read this and let
me know what you think. I'd like to give her your e-mail address if you say it is okay. Peace!
“…do any of you guys know of a gay-friendly church in the central Arkansas area? A friend of mine wants to be baptized and she stepped out on faith, to ask my extremely Pentecostal father-in-law if he would do it, but he’s not comfortable with that. So, I’m trying to find somewhere she might feel valued and included. Would you let me know if you know of someplace that might be a good fit?”
sure... have her contact me.
our "church position" is somewhat nuanced - will explain when i have a little more time but, bottom line, everyone is welcome.
I've thought about this. I can't do "church position" is somewhat nuanced." I have done that. Love ya'll. Always will. Can't do hidden agendas anymore. Why doesn't God love us all with no "nuance"?
what i mean is that all of our community are not in lockstep on this issue (or any other) one of our values is that we do not have to agree on theologies or doctrines in order to love one another. so, by nuanced, i simply mean that i can't promise that everyone in our community has the same opinion or view on homosexuality - we are too small and organic to have an official "church position" on anything.
that said...MY position is that we are affirming of anyone seeking god; gay, straight, black, white, liberal, conservative, democrat, republican. Also, i have emphatically stated that inclusion is one of our core values and have explained
that position like this:
when you hear the word inclusion, when I say "everyone", if you are asking yourself "do you think he means ______..." whatever you put in the blank - the answer is yes! That is exactly who i mean.
so... as a tiny little community with very little official structure, we have no written policy on the issue of homosexuality but the PASTOR's position is that he will baptize, serve communion to, and happily follow jesus with anyone who shows up at r street.
so, again... i would love to meet her and talk with her... and would love to have her be a part of our community if it felt (to her) like a fit. regardless of theology, i can promise you that she will be loved and treasured by all in our community because that is how we roll... family is family and we do not exclude or segregate anyone from our family.
so... my initial response was inadequate but the best i could do with limited time. i hope this clarifies a bit. thanks for pushing back and making me think through my response. it helps me and i hope it helps you as well. families are messy and we have embraced the mess. "church positions" are tidy and we don't do tidy very well. what we DO do well is love god, love each other, and love our neighbor. everything else is secondary. peace...
“there are some who see it as their job to stalwartly guard the boundaries of the tent to keep it from crashing, and some who think it our job to be bravely inclusive and stretch the tent.
Either way, it’s misguided because …it’s not our tent. It’s God’s tent. The wideness of the tent be it the church or society, should only concern me insofar as it points to the great mercy and love of a God who welcomes us all as friends. And of Jesus who welcomes all to his table.
You think I like that? You think I want to sit at the heavenly banquet next to Ann Coulter? Not so much.
But that’s what I’m stuck with because I’m in the Jesus business. And in the Jesus business there is not male or female, jew or greek, slave or free, gay or straight, there is only one category of people: children of God. Which means nobody gets to be special and everybody gets to be loved.” ~nadia bolz-weber
Mark Currey is the minister at r street community church and blogs at the Monsignor's Malaise.