This past Sunday we had opportunity to celebrate FCUCC’s 6th anniversary as an “open and affirming congregation” in the United Church of Christ. It was a special occasion to thank God for the courage and conviction of those members who studied and prayed and voted to advance the vision of extravagant welcome and inclusivity that prevails in the church today.
During the worship service Bruce Andres shared with the congregation the framed certificate from the Open and Affirming (ONA) Coalition. It will soon be displayed in the main hallway outside the church office. Bruce also mentioned the need for an on-going ONA ministry team, which will help promote and evaluate the church’s ONA ministry, mission, and advocacy. If you are interested in serving on this team, please speak with me, Bruce, or Gayle Newton.
Some materials were handed out on Sunday from the ONA Coalition urging the church to be steadfast and diligent in keeping its covenant. We were reminded: the “ONA covenant is an opportunity to grow, to build new relationships, and to become a visible and trusted partner with your LGBTQ neighbors and their families.” This thought was echoed in the litany of observance we prayed: “Thank you, O God, for spicing life and ministry with an array of friends for the journey. May we continue to learn: in our diversity there is strength and a way to understand the inclusiveness of Your love.”
The work of proclaiming the dignity and worth of all people created in the image of God is never ending. Counter prevailing cultural forces are well entrenched, often in religious communities, giving license to bigoted attitudes and hateful behaviors.
I hope and pray FCUCC will stay fully engaged in the struggle for justice and peace (UCC Statement of Faith), and fully invested in the work of manifesting a broader expression of Christian faith. There is much pain to heal and peace to grow. So may we keep strong the resolve to build beloved community, and to advance the love of Jesus Christ: for our good, the good of our children, and the glory of God’s name.
John P. Gardner