CALENDAR  •  BIBLIOGRAPHY

 

Dear Members and Friends of First Church,

At First Church’s last annual meeting, June 10, 2012, the Church Council called for the establishment of a team to study Open and Affirming policies of non-discrimination and for welcoming those of all “sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expressions” (“lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender” people) into the full life and ministry of the church.

David Foye and I volunteered, and we were soon joined by Gordon and Lorraine Angel, Holly Brauner, Peter Crowe, Scott Heggie, Natasha Medwedeff and Sharon Scofield to complete the team. Pastor Ian Holland, is an Ex-officio member of the group too.

As a group, we prayed for God’s guidance, and reflected on how the First Church’s Mission Statement (on the back of every Sunday’s service bulletin) spoke to this process. We asked ourselves…Do we “provide a place of worship to learning and teaching” for all? Do we covenant “to bring glory to God as a worshipful and nurturing body of believers who encourage spiritual life” for all? The last covenant in our Mission Statement, “to celebrate our diversity with Christian love, forgiveness, and tolerance toward one another” sounds, we believe, a loud call for our family in Christ to visit the opportunities surrounding welcoming churches.

The team also considered how this ministry might be informed and inspired by the Gospel. We were drawn to: Philippians 1:27closePhilippians 1:27 27 Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, (ESV) closePhilippians 1:27closePhilippians 1:27 27 Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, (ESV) 27 Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, (ESV) Life Worthy of the Gospel; Philippians 2:5closePhilippians 2:5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, (ESV) closePhilippians 2:5closePhilippians 2:5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, (ESV) Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, (ESV) ; Romans 12:4-13closeRomans 12:4-13 For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and inspanidually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. Marks of the True Christian Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. (ESV) closeRomans 12:4-13closeRomans 12:4-13 For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and inspanidually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. Marks of the True Christian Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. (ESV) For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and inspanidually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. Marks of the True Christian Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. (ESV) ; Luke 10:25-28closeLuke 10:25-28 The Parable of the Good Samaritan 25 And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” 27 And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” 28 And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.” (ESV) closeLuke 10:25-28closeLuke 10:25-28 The Parable of the Good Samaritan 25 And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” 27 And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” 28 And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.” (ESV) The Parable of the Good Samaritan 25 And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” 27 And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” 28 And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.” (ESV) The Parable of the Good Samaritan and Mark 12:28-34closeMark 12:28-34 The Great Commandment 28 And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” 29 Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” 32 And the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher. You have truly said that he is one, and there is no other besides him. 33 And to love him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one's neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” 34 And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And after that no one dared to ask him any more questions. (ESV) closeMark 12:28-34closeMark 12:28-34 The Great Commandment 28 And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” 29 Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” 32 And the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher. You have truly said that he is one, and there is no other besides him. 33 And to love him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one's neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” 34 And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And after that no one dared to ask him any more questions. (ESV) The Great Commandment 28 And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” 29 Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” 32 And the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher. You have truly said that he is one, and there is no other besides him. 33 And to love him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one's neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” 34 And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And after that no one dared to ask him any more questions. (ESV) The Greatest Commandment
“… he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

And so as we begin to chart a process for the congregation we are committed to being good listeners, transparent in our deliberations. We strive to have our process respond to the nature and needs of First Church.

We anticipate the ONA process will take as long as a year, sharing resources with the congregation and giving everyone the opportunity to become informed by them. We imagine this will include books, movies, discussions and witnessing presentations. We pray that the Holy Spirit guides us through this process gracefully.

So please stay tuned. We plan to announce a date, hopefully in May, when we’ll share as many details of the process as we’ve envisioned them and to answer your questions about the process!

May God bless us on this journey,
Jim
Jim Kinchley for the First Church ONA Team