No matter where you are on life's journey, you are welcome here. Because Jesus has taught us to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind, and to love our neighbors as ourselves we declare Christ Reformed UCC to be an Open and Affirming church. We invite people of every race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, age, marital status, economic circumstance, and physical and mental ability into the worship, rites & sacraments, fellowship, and leadership of our church.
While we believe that this statement affirms our faith as an Open and Affirming congregation, people have raised questions about it and the need for it.
(Adapted from the ONA resources of First Congregational UCC, South Portland, Maine)
What does “affirming” mean?
In the context of our statement, affirming means that we go beyond tolerance. The policy of “don’t ask, don’t tell” often leaves the impression that we must hide who we are in order to be accepted. To declare ourselves “Open and Affirming” means that we believe all persons are entitled to be treated with decency and respect—truly equals because we are all made by God and loved by God. We want to state clearly that no one needs to be afraid of judgment or exclusion from our church because of who they are. All persons who live respectfully and responsibly, and who want to join us in following Christ, are welcome.
What does the Bible say?
Hebrew and Christian scriptures assumed that God made Eve from Adam, female from male. Therefore, they reasoned, God created only heterosexuals who were attracted only to the opposite sex. It was assumed that any homosexual act was contrary to human nature and to God’s intention. The languages of our scriptures, Hebrew and Greek, don’t even contain a word for homosexuality. They refer, instead, to homosexual acts by heterosexuals, which were condemned as idolatrous, exploitative or pagan practices. But research has shown that sexual orientation is not a choice but a matter of how God has created us. When we look at scripture we’re compelled to ask: “what broad principles do we see in Jesus’ teaching and living, and how can we apply that to our particular question?”
The spirit of the scriptures reminds us God does not reject us because of who we are. Sin refers to bad choices we make, not to our nature or our identity. Knowing that, we cannot love God whom we have not seen if we do not love our brothers and sisters whom we have seen. By God’s grace we are called to respond compassionately toward others.