In the chapel at Holy Trinity Anglican Church, Edmonton.
Most congregations do their best to be welcoming, but being affirming goes deeper and is public, intentional, and explicit, in their commitment to diversity and inclusion.
Think “PIE”: Public, Intentional, and Explicit.
Public: An Affirming Ministry uses symbols and signs which are echoed outside and inside the church building, in worship, and in all other facets of church life. The broader community should also know what it stands for; a witness to the wider community that God’s love extends to everyone equally and without reserve. This is still a radical message!
Intentional: An Affirming Ministry is deliberate in their process of study, education and dialogue with members of their faith community (both during the Affirming process and as a piece of their ongoing work), to ensure that the history of oppression and discrimination by the Church is both understood and acknowledged, and that continued growth, education, and celebration are part of its ministry.
Explicit: Affirming Ministries should explicitly indicate in their Mission and Vision statement – and everywhere else! – that the LGBTQ+ community is a part of and embraced in all facets of church life. And as part of the Affirming process, their faith community will explore and explain how to live out that commitment.
Can a church be both open and inclusive on social questions and at the same time evangelical in outreach and committed to scripture and doctrine? Wouldn’t you want to be part of a church like that?
It is not hard to find theologically open churches that aren’t engaged with scripture and doctrine. And it is easy to find churches committed to scripture and doctrine that make the lines of belonging impossibly narrow. Could a church offer the best of both worlds?
John Pentland, minister at Hillhurst United Church in Calgary, Alberta, thinks so, and his church seems poised to reach a generation of Canadians who are skeptical of religion in general and Christianity in particular. He admits that this is surprising—those looking for innovative congregations and dramatic church growth are not likely to look at the United Church of Canada.
"Biblical, evangelical—and progressive" by Jason ByasseeOct 28, 2016