I appreciated Matthew Bolton’s comments in his July 2 opinion piece regarding welcoming in our churches today. Institutional change comes painfully slowly, painful for the institution, and painful for those on any side of the perspective. It took me 39 years to deal with it. It took my sister 18 years after that to accept me as a gay man. My congregation accepts and loves most of me, even though an important part of who I am is considered inappropriate to talk about…almost dirty. I continue to serve..as their pastor.
It IS time for all churches to put aside the very judgments that Jesus condemned. It IS time for us to welcome our lesbian, gay ,bisexual, and transgender brothers and sisters and the gifts they bring. But even beyond this, Jesus asks us to welcome all. There is no place in any of our churches where walls should be built that separate us from one another. Churches need to be safe places where all people come to learn, worship and to build relationship with God AND each other.
In Community of Christ, resources are available to help in your welcoming journey (galaweb.org). Let all the churches be about the work of building disciples, and not about the work of marginalizing those we judge.
GALA, gay and lesbian acceptance, is a group of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, family members and allies who are members of Community of Christ and work towards full inclusion in Community of Christ. (Community of Christ has no official affiliation with GALA.)
As many of you know, GALA is compiling a second book that focuses on the progress of the community and includes many stories from LGBT members who have chosen to remain engaged in the church. We will have stories from the community as well as from welcoming congregations and their journey to inclusion. The Board met in Cleveland in May to review the 40-plus submissions. All the stories to date will be included in the book. The caliber and emotion of these stories will enrich the testimony and the church.
In addition, the Board presented the service at the Elyria, Ohio, congregation on Sunday morning.
Again this year GALA designed, financed, and planted the planters at the Temple. In addition, this year GALA also assisted in financing the plantings at Heritage Plaza, home of Board Chaplain Charlie Robison and Headquarters staff organist Pam Robison. Heritage Plaza is the site of the FM Smith study, the Flournoy House, and the Luff House (private residence). What was different this year is that Wim van Klinken, Director of International Headquarters Services, sent a thank you note, and Louie Jorgenson, grounds manager, was effusive in his praise of GALA when this year's plantings were being planned. We thank them both for their acknowledgements!