We Will Send No One Away
To be persuasive, we must be believable; to be believable, we must be credible; to be credible, we must be truthful. –Edward R. Murrow
WHEREAS Spring Creek United Church of Christ is a community of Christians that strives to be "...inclusive, reconciling and caring in our ministry to each other and to the wider community..." [from our mission statement], and
WHEREAS our members are people of faith who believe each of us is in need of God's love, guidance and grace,
THEREFORE, be it resolved that we are Open and Affirming (ONA) to all people who seek God's blessing, regardless of ability, age, gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, or national origin.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, we commit ourselves to the continuing process of understanding God's intentions for us as human beings, proclaiming and sharing God's extravagant welcome in this place for all people.
Open and Affirming in the UCC (Taken from the UCC website)
Open and Affirming (ONA) is the United Church of Christ's (UCC) designation for congregations, campus ministries, and other bodies in the UCC which make a public covenant of welcome into their full life and ministry to persons of all sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expressions.
Spring Creek took a bold step back in November of 2007 to proclaim themselves to be an "ONA Congregation. Many UCC congregations had not made that commitment then. However, more and more congregations are seeing themselves as ONA Congregations. We thank God for that!
You can see from our ONA Resolution, as compared to the United Church of Christ, there are some striking differences. It would appear we included our Resolution that we are Open and Affirming (ONA) to all people who seek God's blessing, regardless of ability, age, gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, or national origin — ability, age, gender, race, ethnicity, or national origin.
While it is important to a congregation that strives to welcome all people, regardless of who they are, or where they are on their journey, we need to be clear as a community of faith that expresses the uniqueness of being and Open and Affirming Congregation, but also an extravagant welcoming church. It is imperative not only for addressing the title of my article, We will send no one away, not only for our settled pastoral search, but what will we do when someone comes to Spring Creek and protests our resolve to be an ONA congregation?
I realize some chose to leave rather than to be a part of an ONA community of faith. That was their choice. And yes, your friends or families may have left because of our resolve, but what do we do when we strive to be an extravagant welcoming, ONA congregation and worship attenders do not?
What does it mean to be a congregation that is ONA, but not willing to send anyone away? This Sunday we will be addressing this issue. We will look at Luke 4:21-30 when theological and personal needs conflict with one another. And to carry on my focus of last week's sermon about being willing to connect with individuals who are struggling with life's "stuff" or not connecting with them.
As I was deliberate in carrying out that theme during prayer time by first reading the prayer, and then asking you to join in, it is paramount to understanding who we are and how we live out our faith-together. It is one thing for a pastor to pray what he/she thinks needs to be prayed for on behalf for a congregation. It is another for a congregation to pray that same prayer and believe it! The same is true when a pastor writes in his/her article in a newsletter what they believe, and a congregation reads it. It makes a difference if they believe the words as well.
In February, our sermon focus will be on the following:
Jesus affirms that God's blessing is not only for an "us."
Join me during February as we seek God's blessing in Rockford and beyond.