Monday, January 16, 2006

In the Spirit of MLK Jr

I cannot claim to understand or even know how MLK Jr felt about homosexuality in the church, or how his theological reflections would have been received today. However, it is in his spirit, a spirit of unity and equality that I write this entry.
Recently on the Disciples Young Adult Listserv a question has been raised on how the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) should act toward homosexuality in the church. There have been many entries (over 75 in just 3 days) for both sidees of the discussion, theological reflections, Biblical interpretations, personal stories and much more. Upfront and in the open, I am pro-equality of all people, I believe all people are children of God, made in God's image and that we all are beautifully and wonderfully made exactly the way we are. I wrote the following to the listserv explaining my congregation that I serve here in Lexington. Woodland Christian Church has not taken on the label of being and "Open & Affirming" church, being open and affirming of all people's life choices, but I know that we, at Woodland, promote that in our ministries.... Here is my entry...
"I am an associate at a church that is not necessarily considered open and affirming, but at the same time we most certainly are. We have not specifically taken that label, however, although I've never actually counted, I would be willing to bet that around 60% of the active members in my church are homosexual, most of whom are in committed and loving relationships. After working there I've come to embrace the reason we, as a congregation, have chosen NOT to accept the O&A label and can see that some aspects of this explanation may also apply to the DOC greater church in general. Our congregation does not want LGBTQ (Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender/Questioning) ministries to be its only ministry. Having a LGBTQ community within your church isn't much different than having a women's fellowship group, or a men's prayer group, a young adult group or even a youth group. All of these things, age, sex/gender, race etc are all demographics that can articulate the make-up of your congregation, but by no means can they place a definition on your church or its ministries. A particular demographic that can develop a support group within your congregation is much different than allowing the Open &Affirming label to dictate the only type of ministry your church serves. Our congregants, of any and all sexualities, genders, ages and races are an amazing group of people that reach out to our community and take on all sorts of social justice issues within our community, which happens to include LGBTQ discussions every now and again, but that's not necessarily the main focus of the ministry of our church. We as a congregation are much more concerned about other things going on in the community than how the community wants to define the demographics of our congregation. While others spend time trying to define our congregation, you can find us PARTICIPATING in Habitat for Humanity and ACTING in events like the MLK Jr Unity Breakfast.... TAKING ACTION. The main focus of our ministries is not to define our demographics and conform them to society. How are we supposed to be welcoming the LGBTQ community and say, "no, you're not different, or queer, or unusual" in the way most of society has labeled you......if we ourselves, label our churches in a different and special manner by saying we are O&A? Just because we offer open arms to all people who wish to worship within our community doesn't make us special, I think we are simply trying to live faithfully by welcoming all of God's children. Granted, I do not want to negate the experience a LGBTQ person has living in the world today. I can only assume that it is more difficult for them to operate in this heterosexually engaged world, than it is for me, a heterosexual individual. I can only imagine it would feel like trying to use right-handed scissors all the time, and wondering why people tell you that your cutting is incorrect or why it doesn't work out properly. I say I cannot negate this in the same way that I would be treated differently if I were an African-American or Asian-American living in my life.... So, at the same time, without sounding like I'm ripping off MLK Jr., merely in the same spirit, I have a dream that one day the difference between me and my LGBTQ friends is not treated any differently than the way people view my haircolor.... that it is merely an aspect of who I am, but does not change the person, of who I am inside. I pray that although our sexuality defines who we are to a certain extent, that it does not decieve others from seeing who we all are individually, as beautiful and wonderful children of God, created in God's image."

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