The Hard Work of Being a "Movement for Wholeness"
by Rev. Andy Beck
As I write, representatives from the United Methodist Church are debating and voting on issues of same-sex marriage and ordination of LGBTQ clergy.
Most mainline protestant denominations including the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) have faced these questions in the recent past. The 2013 Disciples General Assembly resolution 1327 calls for the church to “become a people of grace and welcome to all”, giving clergy and congregations the power to answer these questions themselves.
Our own history as a movement challenged the church of its day. Early Disciples pushed back against the suppressive practices of the Scottish Presbyterian church. In our call to unity as Disciples, congregation by congregation, the DOC remains unsettled on questions of inclusion and affirmation of LGBTQ folks.
I’ve served 5 congregations in 20 years of vocational ministry & I know how easy it is to grow more concerned about the institution & survival of church, rather than the people who make up the Body of Christ. I know how readily folks can retreat into protectionism, especially when challenges arise within their fellowship.
We can be proud of Hillside, & our history as a welcoming congregation in practice, and our faith in Christ who spoke no word of exclusion to the marginalized. I am proud that we are living into his way of love, rather than a way of segregation. Join me in prayer for our sisters and brothers in the UMC. I pray for those LGBTQ clergy that are hurt by their leaders. To paraphrase a comment I saw recently: “It’s not good news to have someone else vote on your identity. God has already claimed me as beloved.”
Hillside is in a tangential discussion. Not whether we will affirm LGBTQ folks – we already do, and with great joy. Our conversation is about how we communicate & let all people know that Hillside is a safe place to worship. One option is to vote to become an “Open and Affirming” congregation. Another is to simply adopt policies that nurture inclusive practices in communication, mission, and worship.
I have an intentionally limited role in the work of the Welcoming Committee, but I encourage your participation in the Welcoming Assessment. It can still be completed online at www.hillsidecc.com/assessment. I look forward to our work together, on behalf of the Gospel, by continuing to feed all people in mind, body, spirit and community.
Be Excellent To Each Other! <>< Rev. Andy Beck