Pastor’s Corner – October 1, 2023

This coming Sunday is World Communion Sunday. Around the globe Christians from many different traditions will be celebrating the Lord’s Supper as a show of unity and solidarity in mission. Though there are differences in theological understanding of the sacrament, we are all trying to find ways to follow Jesus the best we know how. We all share the understanding that Jesus broke bread with his disciples and calls us to do the same with our world. Breaking bread with our neighbors has much significance, of which peace and justice are essential components. A few days ago, we had nine people from our church attend a special seminar offered by Austin Theological Seminary; “Cultivating Belonging & Wellbeing with LGBTQ+ People ” with Rev. Dr. Phil Helsel and Dr. Cody J. Sanders. I was pleased that out of 40-plus attendees we represented almost a quarter! Our interest is due to the ongoing conversation we are having about what it means to be an inclusive faith community. Following worship on October 15th we will have a conversation about what it means to be a More Light congregation, that welcomes and affirms LGBTQ in our church (I encourage you all to come and join us!). Most churches like to see themselves as a welcoming and hospitable church, but often fall short of being more explicit or intentional about how a congregation can be a safe space for worship and celebrate differences in our identities. 

There were many points and insights from the seminar that were helpful, but I want to share with you a key word that stuck with me and that is “belonging.” (Once we get access to the recording of the seminar, an hour conversation, from the seminary we will share the link). The movement from inclusion and belonging is to create space for voices and bodies to be heard and be present in ways that will also transform the larger community. It’s not enough to say we “welcome” our “guests who are not like us,” but the guests become our community. It’s a movement from the margin to the center. There is a real paradigm shift where we are transformed because we can no longer sustain or assume heteronormative lenses to see our world or our church. What can we learn from our LGBTQ persons, their stories of grace, survival, beauty and struggles so that we may deepen our understanding of God and faith? How can we genuinely celebrate LGBTQ persons– their lives, stories and identities?  – Pastor Dae

I leave you with these questions to ponder. Please check out the e-news link I sent two weeks ago about the More Light Movement in PCUSA. For educational purposes, I ordered Dr Sanders’ book. If anyone else is interested in reading together, contact the office and we will order more books.

Queer Lessons for Churches on the Straight and Narrow is about changing the questions we ask about sexuality, gender identity, and faith. Sanders helps us imagine new pathways into old conversations by shifting our attitude from one of suspicious scrutiny toward LGBTQ people to one of compassionate curiosity. Less concerned with answering questions, it aims to cultivate our imagination for asking new questions. Sanders asks, “What can all Christians learn from LGBTQ people that will enhance our lives and strengthen our communities of faith?”