As I watched our wonderful Worship service on Facebook, my eyes were drawn to the statement across the top of the screen “Whoever you are, wherever you are at, you are welcome here”.
The Affirming Ministry Committee has begun this week to draft two important documents, documents that are required in order to be recognized as official members of the Affirming Ministry of the United Church of Canada. One of these is an inclusive marriage policy and the other is a vision statement.
When one reads the statement that “All are welcome”, one might wonder why anything else needs to be said. For surely all means all. It should be simple and clear to understand. But that is not the story that our LGBTQIA2S+ friends have shared with us. We have heard their stories, stories from our own new members, where they went to churches that proclaimed that everyone was welcome, only to find out later that “homosexuality was a base sin” or that “they were welcome to tithe but not to participate on any committees, leadership roles and they were barred from sharing at the Lord’s Table”.
Statements specifically recognizing and welcoming LGBTQIA2S+ members to our community are needed to overcome the barriers that this community has encountered in so many ways. Some of these barriers have been blatant and some barriers have been insidious. We want to have a Visioning Statement that makes a bold statement of affirmation and commitment to ongoing work towards welcoming, encouraging, celebrating, and protecting the LGBTQIA2S+ community.
We want to have a Marriage Policy that invites all people of all sexual orientations, gender identities, and expressions to know that they are welcome to have their union blessed by a God of Love. God created diversity when the world was created. All the creatures of the earth, all the plants, and all the lands were created, different and unique, from soaring mountains to vast deserts and deep seas, from the blue whales to the tiniest viruses, from heteronormative to those who claim non-binary as their preferred status. All were created by God with love and devotion and so we continue to celebrate and honor, each of their own kind, so they may know that they too are children of God.