What is Our ONA Statement of Intentional Welcome?
Open and Affirming Statement of Intentional Welcome
by First Church of Christ, Congregational, 1652
The Council of Deacons appointed the Open and Affirming Ministry Team in 2010, in response to the consensus interest of the Congregation to explore intentional welcome issues demonstrated in the discernment process, and in accordance with the governance structure of First Church of Christ Congregational, 1652 (First Church).
Throughout its history, the Congregation of First Church has sought to follow the ministry of Jesus by standing with the marginalized and oppressed. First Church was a hub of the Underground Railroad and housed the African people who had been held as captives on the Amistad. Today that commitment is demonstrated in the relocation of refugees, the building of the Hope Day School in Sierra Leone, participation in Rebuilding Together, and the support of Farmington Food Pantry, Interval House, and similar outreach efforts. Grounded in our history and faith we are now in 2012 called again by God to act, to offer an intentional welcome to all who seek a Christian home for spiritual growth.
Religion-based justifications to exclude and condemn lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons (LGBT) are regularly found in what we all hear, see, and read. Some interpretations of the Bible are used to persecute LGBT persons, justify violence against them, and deny them legal protections or basic human rights. Some Christian Churches teach that LGBT persons are sinful, immoral, and undeserving of God’s love or the Church’s support. Religious justification for the condemnation of and attacks on LGBT persons provides cover for bullying and adds to the stress and struggle of LGBT youth, some of whom are actively contemplating suicide. For these reasons, LGBT persons may assume they are unwelcome at Christian Churches. This is why we need to express our intentional welcome to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons.
We covenant with God and each other to live and love as Jesus has taught. Following His example we strive to be a Christian community welcoming people of any age, economic status, ethnicity, family structure, gender, gender identity or expression, marriage status, mental or physical ability, race, sexual orientation, or theological tradition -- without exceptions, without exclusions. This covenant includes the right to participate equally and fully in all aspects of the life of our church. With open hearts and minds we strive for reconciliation as we seek to become the fully inclusive community of faith that God calls us to be.