Step 1: Forming a Team

 

A Statement from Our Moderator

August 20, 2020

 

Church Family,

Our Church Board has authorized the formation of a ministry team to outline and then guide the church through the Open and Affirming
discernment process. If you wish to serve on this team, please get in touch with our Moderator, Paul Heintzleman, or any member of the
Executive Committee.

 

This new ministry will select materials to use for this process, develop a projected timeline, outline the process for the congregation, and help us lovingly navigate this journey together. Part of the team's work will be to ensure that every voice in our congregation is heard and valued. Thank you.

Looking forward,
Paul Heintzleman

Church Moderator


We have been on a journey towards a discernment process around whether God is calling our congregation to express God's love in this time and place through a statement of Open and Affirming for at least a decade. In 2010, Rev. James Watson led a visioning process one piece of which was going to be entering into discernment (prayerful consideration) around becoming Open and Affirming. Rev. Watson left before this process could begin. Some of us fear the conflict and changes that will almost certainly come with engaging the question of whether to fully affirm our LGBTQ+ members. Some of us have experienced for ourselves or have watched loved ones experience the hurt of not being fully affirmed for who they are. 

 

This summer (2020), after receiving 4 letters from congregants asking that we embark on a process of prayer, education, conversation, listening, sharing and exploring around whether and how to welcome and affirm all people regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, our church's Executive Committee sent out the letter below.

July 15, 2020

 

Dearly Beloved,

 

If you are reading this letter, you have no doubt experienced the warm welcome from our church family. Whether you have been here all your life or have recently arrived, this congregation has made welcoming people in Christ’s love part of our identity for over 100 years. We agree this is a core value, one that we see as central to following Christ. 

 

While we agree on the importance of the act of welcoming family, strangers and friends alike, we do not always agree on what we mean by welcoming. Who do we welcome? Is there anyone we do not welcome? Do we welcome, affirm and celebrate the whole person? How do we do this?

 

In the last few months, the Executive Committee has received three letters from members of the congregation who serve in various leadership capacities. These letters request that our church move ahead with a discernment process, one where we learn about what it means to welcome all (and who in our community may not have been welcomed), as Christ showed us. This process specifically focuses on the welcome and affirmation of LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) people.

Over the last few months the need for education and prayer around racial justice has become clear, and we hope that similar energy, effort and passion can go towards education, discussion and prayer about Open and Affirming.

 

At our upcoming August Church Board meeting, the Executive Committee will recommend that we form an exploratory team to gather resources, outline a time frame and determine what this discernment process can look like for our congregation and how best to proceed to become an Open and Affirming Church. 

 

We are thankful for the initiative of congregational members in urging us to move forward in this process, and we ask that you hold our congregation in prayer during this time of exploration that will lead into discernment. 

 

Please do not hesitate to reach out to anyone on the Executive Committee or our Pastor if you have any questions or thoughts about this.

 

In gratitude,
Paul Heintzleman, Moderator
Pat Kukus, Treasurer
Kathy Bialy, Church Clerk
John McCoy, Chair of Deacons
Bernie Depperschmidt, Chair of Trustees
Alexandra Stanke, Co-Chair of Trustees