Should Disciples Vote to Become Open and Affirming in 2013?


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19 thoughts on “Should Disciples Vote to Become Open and Affirming in 2013?

  1. Normally I’m skeptical of resolutions. In this case I support it. The intensity of the emotion makes it a proper time. I know some congregations will leave. In this regard, remember that this week’s gospel reading is the parable of the wheat and the weeds.

  2. Well, I just voted with the majority. I see some “groundswell” support for this idea, but the reality is that supporting this is probably more a vote of conscience than anything that has a chance of actually happening. The direction may look pretty overwhelming here, but in the real world of those hard chairs in the assembly hall, much opposition still exists.

    Nice to be morally right, thought:)

    . . . and if I’m wrong, I still get to say “I supported this years ago.” Smile, folks, we are going to need a sense of humor going forward.

    John

    • John,

      As important as what we say to ourselves about this issue is what we as a denomination are able to say to our brothers and sisters who are LGBTQI, and who believe the church has given up on them.

  3. I think the way to look at this issue is not only from the Disciples on a general level, but on regional, congregational, and individual ministry levels. DHM, Church Ext, seminaries, Disciples Houses, colleges, Global Missions, Week of Compassion, Regions, as well as individuals all need to come out on this issue. For too long we have used only our individual voices and the institutional voices need to use theirs too. I hope to see either multiple resolutions or a resolution signed by multiple bodies in our “radically flat” Disciples polity. If we all truly believe all are welcome to the table, then this means both sides and all angles of the table.

  4. To those who cast the more than 400 affirmative votes: your participation in a virtual straw poll changes nothing – what are you going to DO for the next two years to effect actual change?

    Will you keep the conversation alive in Sunday School and Elder Meetings and Church Board meetings and in Regional gatherings? Will you visit other congregations to be a presence and be an initiator of conversations and form relationships? Will you, personally and on-line, share links to and writing with Dmergent.org? Will you join and participate at The Intersection (http://disciplesintersection.org/)? Will our theologians and clergy and denominational leadership take to the pulpit and print media and airwaves and blogsphere to provide lessons of inclusion and justice and messages of encouragement and calls for action? Will we march to Westboro and mayors and city councils and state houses and Congress to say THIS is Christianity –

    –– God is unconditional boundless grace and unlimited unrestrained love and always has been;

    –– God wants to have a loving intimate relationship with each of us without exception and without qualification;

    –– seek justice as healing and rehabilitation and restoration;

    –– seek universal reconciliation and inclusion and participation;

    –– in healthy partnership, compassionately serve all who are hurt or lost or oppressed;

    –– be generous and hospitable to all;

    –– live non-violently without vengeance and with a cheerful fearlessness of death and worldly powers; and

    –– be – here and now – the Kingdom of God.

  5. Call it congregationalism, convenant, or autonomy, disciple historical polity has served the denomination well. Our leadership remains so focussed on this one issue I feel at the detriment of all other issues of inclusion. Ramming one theology down the throat of a church is not what I call being one church. Our administrative structure will not make us one church, it is only our common faith in Christ which truly makes us one church. We are not an Open and Affirming denomination, but we are a denomination with the God-given freedoms for each congregation to make its own decision. We have a chance to make a better decision than UCC and other denominations that our currently suffering schism due to this psuedo grass roots movement. DoC GLBT’s are already vastly over represented in Seminaries and administrative staff while racial ethnic enrolment remains dismal. Is this O&A justice? Passing this resolution will cease to make the General Assembly representative of a church that examples tollerance of opposing views. This bid to be inclusive remains the exclusive idea of elitist who cry “cut the baby in two.”

    • It is interesting that you comment, Joel, that our leadership “remains so focussed (sic.)” on the issue of GLBT people in the life of the church, and that leaders of the GLBT community are “ramming one theology down the throat of the church”. From what I witnessed at General Assembly, we had very, very few references to anything in regard to the GLBT inclusion in the life of our church. I guess since this year we did not have explicitly homophobic speakers in worship, as we did in Indianapolis, you see this as ramming GLBT concerns down our throats? And as for people supportive of GLBT concerns being “already vastly over represented” in seminaries and adminstrative positions, I would question that as well. At the very least, if that is indeed true, very very few of these folks feel safe enough to share their thoughts, at the risk of their jobs and their place at the Table.

    • Joel,

      I had thought I would not respond to this comment because I find it so hurtful, but I changed my mind. My first thought as you speak about unity is my own study of the history of the Disciples. As I am sure you know, we were the only mainline denomination in the 1800’s not to take a stand against slavery. Alexander Campbell debated people about this openly in the Millenial Harbinger with other church leaders. But he won. Campbell felt the most important thing was that we were “one” church. I think now we can all agree that in our oneness, we are not shining the light of Jesus Christ when together we witnessed that slavery was not important enough to take a stand against. Certainly my Jesus was not afraid to tell people when religion was going bad in the temple or in the hearts of those who were afraid of him. It is important to remember too, that after the civil war, we split despite our open professment of being one. The first major split happened outside most history books when the Church of Christ became officially outside the the Disciples of Christ in 1910 (don’t quote me on the date – I just know it was around there). Sometimes even if we try like gangbusters not to take a stand to remain one, we simply are allowing the cracks and fissures to continue to split us anyway.

      Our next major split happened when we organized and the independent Christian churches were not on board during the restructuring. Many say it had lots to do with theology as to why we split, but others would say it just has to do with polity. But I digress.

      Now we are in an age when the church faces not only splitting once again, but also when the majority of the population does not even go to the church. Certainly, we want to be sensitive to a church that is struggling at best to even be a relevant witness of Jesus Christ in the world as it has such a small amount of numbers at all and many of us are focused only on survival.

      What you speak about is important. Racial reconciliation is one thing that our church is doing better than many other churches. We bear the wounds of a church that has been silent about racial issues throughout our country’s sinful history. It is good that we heard so many strong and wise voices share the good news of full inclusion of all races and cultures.

      What is sad to me is the ignorance of what full inclusion means. Believe it or not, the “gay issue” is not a “white issue”. While there may be perceptions that it is only an issue that those with white privilege can confront it, there are also perceptions that there are no gay people in cultures outside the United States and with people of color. I can assure you this is not true. I can only speak from my own culture and my own experience before I end up becoming irrelevant myself. However, I have taken the time to listen to many who are affected by a church that is fully inclusive who are not white. I have traveled to outside the country and lived abroad in Namibia where I learned about plight of people struggling with same sex attraction in places where hostility is shown through egregious violence. I have also met pastors who serve in our country who are gay and lesbian and who are people of color within the disciples tradition. look around and try to be sensitive – other communities in the church who are people of color do care about this issue. They may feel that they cannot be “out”. They also may know that their voice is a minority among their community, and many have already left the church. These are the voices that I think we, as followers of Jesus, must listen to well. We all know that Jesus loves the outcast best. The widow, the orphan, the stranger – all are welcome in the arms of Jesus. In a world where such welcome is so silent for people who are not heterosexual, it is a wonder to me why any mention of LGBTQ issues would be considered “shoving down the throat”. Shame.

      When I think of suicide rates among gay teens and adults (60% of these are due to sexual orientation and 80% of these suicides are glbtq teens who are Christian), it saddens me that this conversation is one that could even have a “pro” and “anti” place in the church.

      Certainly we tolerate opposing views in the disciples, but we also come together with a common voice and we try to use our collective education and experience as JEsus followers to respond to a hurting world. We saw this in the resolutions passed this assembly through the promotion of anti-hate speech toward muslims. We saw this in our acceptance of a resolution to help encourage our communities to come together in support of local schools. We saw this in the 2009 assembly when we passed a resolution against the violence in Uganda against lgbtq persons.

      It is my prayer that in the coming years you, specifically (and others), are able to befriend at least one person who knows the struggle of what it means to be gay and Christian. Perhaps through your own witness of this person, you might understand the strong language you use is very deafening and hurtful to a community that is constantly under attack by Christians. You might also find the church need not choose between one outsider and another. Through the radical love of God, I truly believe that we can find the love of God offered to all people and witness it in the world. It may take some serious rethinking about the Holy Spirit and church, but I believe my God is big enough to make it happen. Even in this church.

      One last point Joel –
      I want you to know that I, too, love our autonomy as disciples. In fact, I wonder at times if the Independent Christians may be following our founders better than us becuase of their more loose association between churches. However, as a life-long disciples believer, I also have come to appreciate the connectionalism that we have. I am one that has benefitted from the witness of Jesus through the different arms of the church through my service with DHM, as intern in appalachia and yakama christian mission, church camps in tennessee and ohio, as pastor, on the commission on ministry, as Bethany Fellow, and as seminarian. I appreciate the eclectic witness that we are in the world. However, if one were to reduce my church to a simple “one-ness” around a God with no definition or scope, I would rather just call myself an American. This is also a oneness that keeps me connected to all people. However, I believe Jesus makes us one not just to be together, but to walk in this world where JEsus woudl walk and with open arms welcoming as Jesus would welcome. and i believe jesus welcomes with full love and heart those who are glbtq and he mourns our own hesitation in welcoming.

  6. Your comments lead me to believe you don’t have a good grip on reality, and name calling ready isn’t helpful. I’m sure the pastors and speakers of the last General Assembly would disagree with your label of them. Our leadership has job security as long as they fall in line with O&A advocacy. Conformity is rewarded and a desenting opinion is frowned upon. It is a power culture that gets to dictate what is a piority.

    • Joel – I’d like to hear from you about how you think other issues are excluded. Yes, LGBT issues came up during both business sessions and worship, but so did other ways in which we Disciples have excluded one another from the Table. I’d like to know more about what else you think needs to be included by our church leadership, in contrast to how you see it handled today.

  7. It should not be assumed that I distance myself from GLBT people. The truth is I have family, friends and people I love who are gay. It is not my attempt to quatify the suffering of people, but I am offering a difference of opinion on the issue of whether our denomination should proclaim itself Open and Affirming. I am a third generation Mexican American and a fourth generation Disciple. The Disciple History course I took in seminary was a requirement, but the Hispanic Disciple History I am a part of relates to me that after one hundred years our denomination only has two hundred Hispanic congregations while other denominations have thousands. Lets face it, the fact that the majority of our denomination remains opposed to an O&A agenda can not be blamed on Hispanic congregations. What is truly shameful is a narrow view of Jesus’ teachings and censored proclamations of the Gospel. The greatest measure of equality is the scriptural proclamation that all fall short of the glory of God. We all have a sinful nature, we are just born that way. Jesus Christ came to release us from slavery to sin.

  8. Do we have to allow and practice exclusion and segregation to find unity? In this country, if I worship at a church that conducts its service entirely in a non- English language, I feel excluded. Yet, in another country where that language is a cultural norm, I would not feel excluded. I mention this only as a point to be discussed and not as a positional statement.

    While I accept that we are all children of God, I do not accept that our godly family ties are based on shame and guilt. I worship a God of unrestrained love and unqualified grace – and that love and grace and the transformative power of that love and grace is what binds us together.

  9. Joel, I will echo that all of us have fallen short, but by grace Christ has released us from that slavery to sin. We have been freed from sin, so that we might be freed to practice being the children of God that God created all of us to be. For me, this means putting grace and welcome at the very forefront of all that I do as a Christian, and all that the Church does in its life and practice. One regret I have of this format (ie, of typing into a computer instead of talking face to face) is that it is so much harder, for me anyway, to show grace as I type. I hope that sometime we can sit down at table and share fully with one another.

  10. The racial differences RE: issues of sexual identity is a conversation that the #ccdoc needs to engage in, but that conversation must not be an excuse not to act now. I don’t disagree that the majority of congos have conservative theology on such matters, but the majority is often wrong. Such is the case RE: sexual identity. The God I see in Jesus Christ breaks down walls to compassion….even “biblical” walls.

  11. God is
    God only is
    The past is gone
    The future does not exist

    God is not Christian or American or Santa Claus or Narcissus
    God is unrestrained love and unconditional grace

    God is not a distant diety
    God is a here-and-now presence

    Jesus is not sacrifice and death
    Jesus is a universal message and a transformed life

    Communion is not a ritual of a broken body and atoning blood
    Communion is a meal of a fellowship of sharing and of a unity without exclusion

  12. Pingback: Holding Hands and Finding Home | [D]mergent

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