Pastor’s Message – July 23, 2020
Dear people of God:
I want to tell you about a decision your Session made this week and, in light of that, assure you of my readiness to listen to your concerns, questions, and ideas.
After a process of discernment that began more than two years ago (May 2018), involving prayer, conversation, reading, teaching, preaching, and lots of listening, your Session voted unanimously that we are a More Light Church. My experience of the wonderful elders on our Session is that not everyone is comfortable with it, not everyone is happy about it, but everyone believes that it is the right thing to do.
A bit on what that does and does not mean. It does mean that we are committed to full inclusiveness in our welcome and in our ministry. All who wish to follow Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior are welcome. In a society in which the loudest voices say, “We are Christians and therefore we reject gay people,” our voice will consistently say, “Gay people, Lesbian people, transgender people, non-binary people are welcome here. Come seek Jesus Christ every day, everywhere, in everyone.”
The experience of other Presbyterian churches is that this will not change us a great deal, even if you were hoping it would. Don’t expect LGBTQIA+ people from throughout Omaha to come flocking to our church. We didn’t do this as a church-growth ploy; we did this because it is true to our nature as an open, welcoming community. More Light Presbyterians will help us get the word out, but the primary means of evangelism will still be for you, the people of the Church, to invite others to know Jesus Christ within our community.
If we welcome all people, why make a point of welcoming LGBTQIA+ people? Because these are the people who are pointedly excluded by much of the Christian community. An analogy: some ask, “Why say that Black Lives Matter? Don’t all lives matter?” The best response I have seen is, “All lives won’t matter until Black lives matter.” Likewise, all people are not welcome in the Church until LGBTQIA+ people are welcome in the Church.
If you are concerned, troubled, or afraid of what this may mean for our Church, please know that I am ready to listen to you. I do not judge others; I will answer questions honestly and as faithfully to the Gospel as I know how. But as your pastor I care about you, so I will listen to you. And for those who celebrate this decision, I implore you not to judge your siblings who are troubled by it. Our mission statement says that we seek Jesus Christ every day, everywhere, in everyone, and that includes especially everyone who sees and understands things differently from ourselves.
After all, in the words of the Puritan preacher John Robinson, the Lord has yet more light to break forth from the Holy Word.