Becoming a People of Grace and Welcome
When my denomination -- the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) -- gathers for its General Assembly a month from now, we will have before us a Sense of the Assembly Resolution that speaks to the current debate over inclusion of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgendered Persons. Our churches are not of one mind. In fact, in many of our congregations there is more than one view on this topic. Indeed, our culture is in the middle of a major transition on the topic as well. We await with somewhat bated breath for a Supreme Court ruling that could in principle invalidate all legal prohibitions to marriage equality. We'll have to wait to see how the Court decides these increasingly important questions. In the mean time, what about the church?
Into this conversation some in the church have offered this resolution to get the conversation moving once again (we've been in a holding pattern for more than a decade). GA-1327 is a Sense of the Assembly resolution, which is not an official ruling or test of fellowship, but a word to the local churches, the Regions and the various dimensions of the General Church where the Assembly stands on the issue. There will be vigorous debate and there will be opposition. My expectation is that the resolution, will pass, but by no means will it be unanimous.
Like most resolutions of this type, there are a number of Whereas clauses that you can read for yourself, but I want to provide here the manner in which the issue would be resolved:
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the General Assembly meeting in Orlando, Florida, July 13-17, 2013, calls upon the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) to recognize itself as striving to become a people of grace and welcome to all God’s children though differing in race, gender, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, nationality, ethnicity, marital status, physical or mental ability, political stance or theological perspective; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the General Assembly calls upon the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) to affirm the faith, baptism and spiritual gifts of all Christians regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, and that neither is grounds for exclusion from fellowship or service within the church, but we celebrate that all are part of God’s good creation; and
FINALLY, BE IT RESOLVED that the General Assembly calls upon all expressions of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), as a people of grace and welcome, to acknowledge their support for the welcome of and hospitality to all.
The Rev. Dr. Sharon Watkins, the General Minister and President of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) offers a brief but helpful word of wisdom concerning this resolution, helping us understand why it is important that we pass it. I invite you to watch and offer your thoughts: