Thursday, February 19, 2009

Is Honesty Allowed?

2 years ago, as a part of the process of naming ourselves an Affirming COnference, we passed a motion that all Joint Needs Assessment Reports in this conference would need to respond to this question:
The United Church believes that God calls people of all races, ethnicities, abilities, orientations and gender to ministry. Are there any theological or physical factors that would prevent you from welcoming any such persons to your Ministry site? Please specify and include your rationale.
Certainly this is an important issue. ANd certainly people searching for new ministry locations will often want to know the answer to this (and likely explore it deeper). But are congregations who would answer yes allowed or encouraged to be honest?

We have in our denomination congregations that have passed marriage policy saying that they will only perform "traditional" (ie. not same-gender) marriages. How do they answer the welcoming question? Is there a tyranny of being seen as "open" that silences those who want to be honest about how comfortable someone might feel in their location? I honestly think that there is such a tyranny within the church. ANd even though I align on the side of openness and welcoming it is wrong to force people to pretend they are something they are not.

Or do they do as some have and name their marriage policy but then say there is no reason anyone in the above categories would not be welcomed, and seemingly not notice the inherent contradiction?


  1. I think the bigger issue Gord is HONESTY.
    Having served in a congregation that believed itself to be "warm and welcoming" I was horrified to witness a person enter that congregation for SIX weeks and never once be spoken to nor made welcome.
    When I foolishly pointed out the inconsistency of the words and actions of this congregation, I became the villan ...

    What is desperately needed Gord is HONESTY by our leadership. we can no longer afford to simply close our eyes to such blatant hypocrisy and utilize a monty-pythonesque - "nudge, nudge, wink wink, say no more, say no more" response that has marked our journey thus far.

    If we are to be the Body of Christ Incarnate in the world we need to be open, honest, frank and BOLD in our approach to things like INCLUSIVITY. And we may have to prune some of the branches (leaders included) who can not nor will not embrace the radical inclusivity of the Gospel ...

    And YOU my friend, are not one of those branches that needs to face the pruning shears - but if we honestly look around some of our "beloved" leaders would have to be shown the door ... but heaven forbid if we do that ...

    at the end of the day it's about power and maintaining the status quo at ALL COSTS !!!

  2. I hear what you're saying Gord. As the United Church, we have a wide range of theological perspectives, all of which are accepted as 'United Church'.

    Your post takes me back to something I've said so many times that even I am tired of hearing it. We weren't bold enough in 1988. We had the opportunity at that time to become a FULLY Affirming United Church. That would have put the burden of opting out for theological or idealogical reasons on those who disagree.

    Because we were unable to be so bold, we are now paying the price. You have articulated it well here. I believe ministry personnel need to be honest about where they can serve AND congregations need to be honest about what they believe. That's the only way search committees are going to make good choices.

  3. Anonymous21/2/09 18:36

    Welcoming here means... we unlock the doors... but only because we have to. You know how God told Abraham that his offspring would be as numerous as sand... well... we have that many ways to be unwelcoming.

    Sorry that you are having to deal with this.... peace.