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May 1, 2017, 12:00 AM

My Two Cents

June 12th, 2017 will mark the one year anniversary of the mass shooting that took place at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida. This date will be but one of so many heartbreaking days for the families of those who died that night, many of whom were part of the LGBTQ community. They died in the prime of their lives. They died at the hand of someone who wasn’t well and who was filled with anger. And they died in one of the few places where they felt safe.

One resurrection that emerged from the cross of this tragedy was the increased awareness of the risks of being gay in this country. We like to think that we have evolved beyond our prejudice against people who are LGBTQ. But we fool ourselves. For many reasons, people who are “other” in the area of sexuality and gender   identification are so often not safe. And, sadly, one of the most dangerous places for this    community has been the church.

Shortly after last year’s Orlando shootings  members of the Christian Temple community began to look at ourselves. We began asking questions about our own welcome, and how hard we work to be sure ALL people know that this is a safe place.

Our findings? We’ve done a pretty good job of being a faith community where all really are  welcome. But we haven’t done as well at getting that word out. We like to think that once people arrive here, they are warmly embraced. But, with a church name like Christian Temple that can be confusing, and at a time when people want to know whether they’ll be welcome       before they walk in the door, we still have some work to do.

So, beginning last September, and continuing with a series of meeting of the elders, board and congregation, we are now prepared to present a “Statement of Welcome” to the congregation for formal approval. The statement specifically     includes mention of LGBTQ people, and it uses the language ‘open and affirming’, an important shorthand way for people to know who we are and who we try to be. The statement has been developed over the past year. We hope to spend a few more weeks both reviewing it and talking about how we can live up to its claims. And then, we plan to invite the congregation to consider approving the statement as part of our service of worship on June 11th.

I’m not sure how much comfort our approval will give to all those grieving families on the eve of the one year anniversary of the day their lives fell apart. But our Statement of Welcome, if adopted and implemented with spirit and creativity, will help the world know that there is at least one more safe place in the world for all who might consider entering.

Shalom,

Rick

 

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