Here are 4 messages from Pastor Blair to our LGBTQ+ brothers and sisters:
1. As a representative of the Church, I am sorry for the ways the church has hurt you.
I am sorry if you have received messages from a church that have made you feel or believe that you are anything less than fully loved and fully accepted.
You are loved. You are accepted.
If you are currently a part of a congregation that says anything other than that, find a different faith community. We exist.
2. We affirm and celebrate that you are a child of God, created in the image of God.
You being you gives God praise! You are a light, a blessing, a gift to the world just as you are. If you worship with us, you won't be treated any differently than anyone else.
All are invited to come to the communion table. There are no rules. Everybody is in! There is grace for all!
And if you stick around our congregation long enough, someone is bound to invite you to be on a committee...don't say I didn't warn you. In all seriousness though, you have gifts and grace that are needed for God's work in the world.
3. We do not / will not ever interpret, teach or preach the Bible in ways that harm you.
We actively teach and promote different interpretations of the 'clobber passages.' Matthew Vines does an excellent job working through these passages in God and the Gay Christian.
Our tradition doesn't read scripture without considering its historical context. We rely on guidance of the Holy Spirit as we use our minds to study and reason and our experience to interpret the meaning of the text for today.
For more information on scriptures that emphasize the "value of love over the law, the God-belovedness of all people, and the special affirmation of those who have been historically rejected as unclean or unholy" read this article by Layton Williams.
4. We will continue to work to be agents of reconciliation, supporting efforts to eliminate discrimination and disenfranchisement of LGBTQ+ persons in the church and world.
There is work to be done to promote equality for all; this work requires thoughtfulness and intentionality in order to be truly transformative for us and our world.
I am committed to this work; we as a congregation have a history of being open, truly open for conversation, for deep and thoughtful questions, for listening and learning with open hearts and minds and for doing the often difficult work that needs to the done in order to transform the world.
May you, my LGBTQ+ brothers and sisters, know that you are not only loved by God but that God delights in you and may you find a community of faith like the one I am proud to be a part of at Arapaho UMC that strives to embody God's love for all.
Pastor Blair Thompson-White is the Senior Pastor at Arapaho United Methodist Church in Richardson, TX.