I was proud of our Helena St. Paul’s United Methodist Church when we became a Reconciling Congregation some years ago. That means we declared that we welcomed LGBTQI+ people into full participation in our congregation, despite the excluding and judgmental stance of our denomination.
We intend to remain welcoming, denomination or no. Still, we have something to learn from the Green Street United Methodist Church in Winston-Salem North Carolina. Here is their welcome statement:
“Welcome to Green Street, where the Kingdom of God is breaking through!
“We practice the radical welcome of God:
Whether you are
single, married, divorced, widowed,
black, brown, white, or mixed,
straight, gay, bi or confused,
transgender, cisgender or non-binary,
born in the USofA, or undocumented,
we welcome you.
“We love crying infants and wiggly toddlers
athletic moms and out-of-shape dads,
immature gray-haired people
and children with old souls.
“We welcome friends of Jesus and church-phobics,
religious refugees and agnostic doubters,
corporate executives and starving artists,
tree-hugging vegans and red-meat eaters.
the unemployed and over-employed,
Republicans, Democrats, independents and anarchists,
the tattooed, pierced, both or neither,
people who know it all
and those who have hard questions.
“We don’t care if your family came here
on the Mayflower or came across the border,
came through Ellis Island,
were brought here as slaves, or seek refuge.
Everyone is welcome.
“We believe that black and brown lives matter
and that white privilege is real.
We welcome the least, last, losers and the lost,
upper class, middle class, working class,
or people with no class at all.
If a crowded room gives you an extrovert buzz,
or if silence soothes your inner introvert,
there’s a place for you here.
“You are welcome
if you have sobered up or are still using,
in recovery or thinking of rehab.
We love sinners and saints,
neighbors, strangers and enemies.
Your presence enriches us.
Thanks for visiting,
and welcome home.”
Now that’s a welcome.