Saturday, June 11, 2011

Voices of Faith Speak Out: Affirming Baptists

The Rev. Deborah Kohler, about Woodside Church in Flint MI
Woodside Church's main web page now prominently states "We are an Open and Affirming congregation welcoming into the full life and ministry of our church all persons, including those of every race, culture, age, gender, sexual orientation, ability and economic status. At Woodside Church, our diversity strengthens our faith. Our actions are a reflection of our Christian faith."

A lot of people said "we already accept everybody, why do we have to take an official stance?" I would say that was the biggest element of resistance. And the education that we needed to do that any church that considers themselves welcoming, unless you have an official stance and a rainbow out front, people who have been excluded have no way of knowing that they're really included....

We decided that part of the justice ministry is to stay in the system and keep standing up for what's right, so yes we did want to be Baptists....

And so technically, the UCC and ABC-USA denominations are not hierarchical, although I would say in manifestation the American Baptists act like they're authoritarian. We just stood up to them and said, "You can tell us you're kicking us out, but you can't kick us out. We're Baptists as long as we say we're Baptists and we can affiliate with whoever we as a congregation choose to affiliate. You all have something called Four Freedoms, and one of those Freedoms is the freedom of each individual and each congregation to interpret the Scriptures according to their faith-conscience. You can't tell us -- you have no authority over us." But ultimately they do.

So we found ministries in the ABC-USA that we can endorse. ...

So we continue to be a presence at the national denominational meetings. There are other Welcoming and Affirming Baptists, and we're in coalition with them. We actually joined an association called AWAB, The Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists. That's in addition to the UCC Coalition for LGBT Concerns.
H/T Pam's House Blend

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