I’m proud to serve a congregation that welcomes and includes all people. Over 25 years ago Good Samaritan made the choice to include all people regardless of their sexual orientation. In church speak it means we became a “Reconciling Congregation.” At the time it was a bold move. It was not an easy decision, no one knew what the response would be of the larger Minnesota Conference. About five years ago, Good Samaritan voted to open our building to gay and lesbian people for weddings.
Reconciling Churches are committed to the inclusion of people of all sexual orientations and gender identities in both the policy and practices of United Methodist Church. As laws and attitude change in our country it might feel like the fight against LGBT intolerance has been won. Marriage equality has become the law of the land. However, Kansas, Arizona and several other states have passed laws making it legal to discriminate against same-sex couples.
Historically, Christian persecution of homosexuals is almost as old as the Church itself. In the middle ages gay people were excommunicated, ostracized and even executed for behavior forbidden by Church teaching. Many denominations and Churches still do not welcome GLBT people.
To this day the United Methodist Church does not allow LGBT people to be ordained or serve the United Methodist Church. The 2016 Book of Discipline states: The practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching. The Reconciling movement is a response to this injustice. But Reconciling Churches are still in the minority. There are over 30,000 United Methodist Congregations in the United States. Only 2% of them are reconciling.
This Spring Good Samaritan will try to tell the world we are not like the other 98% of United Methodist Churches. We will put a rainbow banner on the outside of our building as a visible sign that this congregation welcomes all people.
I look forward to the day when all United Methodist Churches welcome gays and lesbians. Until then, I’ll proudly let our flag of tolerance fly high.
Be at peace,
The best is yet to be,