Reconciling Ministry Team Update
In 2016 our Church Council approved the formation of a Reconciling Ministries Task Force for the purpose of exploring how our congregation might be intentional in welcoming all persons, especially people of all sexual orientations and gender identities. To that end, the task force has met with a number of groups, led a Wednesday evening program last semester, and worked to develop a “Statement of Welcome” that we wish to share with the congregation for its consideration. Our team of lay persons (no pastors are serving on the task force) invites you to read the draft statement provided on the other side of this insert.
Why is this statement important? We are aware of how life-giving it is when the church welcomes those who have been excluded by the church because of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. At Clemson UMC we have heard stories of how a welcoming posture by laity, staff, and clergy has brought a sense of hope and self-worth to persons who have never had such experiences in church before.
We recognize not everyone in our community shares the same perspective on specific issues related to human sexuality. That’s why we are offering an invitation for you to attend a small group information/feedback session on March 14th. Sign up by contacting Bob Brookover, co-chair of the task force, at [email protected] or (864) 723-5917. It is our intent to take a “straw poll” in the future to gauge the congregation’s willingness to endorse our proposed Statement of Welcome.
Since the beginning, the church of Jesus has wrestled with the breadth of welcome. In the New Testament book of Acts, the followers of Jesus went through a period of discernment and eventual change when it came to welcoming Gentile outsiders. Jesus himself ventured into Samaritan communities, stretching the boundaries for most of his followers since Samaritans were looked upon with suspicion.
Our team prayerfully offers our proposed statement. We are aware that by even having this conversation we have made a place for persons who have often felt left out of the church community. Thank you for taking time to read our statement, offer your feedback, and engage in this process as we seek to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world!
Proposed Statement of Welcome
Clemson United Methodist Church is called to the ministry of reconciliation as we make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
We embrace the diversity of our community and the world as a gift. It is our purpose, therefore, to be a reconciling congregation, extending hospitality, accommodating, and encouraging full participation of all, regardless of age, race, ethnic or national origin, gender or gender identity, sexual orientation, marital status, educational or economic background and physical or mental ability.
As a reconciling congregation, we affirm that all people are created in the image of God and, as beloved children of God, are worthy of love and grace. We welcome the full participation of all people in the life and ministries of Clemson United Methodist Church as we journey toward reconciliation through Christ.
We recognize that there are differences among us, but believe that we can love alike even though we may not think alike. We proclaim this statement of welcome to all who have experienced exclusion or discrimination in the church and in society.
We invite all people to join us on our faith journey toward greater love, understanding, and mutual respect.
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Clemson United Methodist Church
Making Disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
Affirming that all people are created in the image of God, worthy of God’s love and grace.
Reconciling Ministries Task Force
The Reconciling Ministries Task Force is exploring the possibility of having Clemson UMC adopt a welcoming statement that includes language to make it clear that our church invites all people to come as they are regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, gender identity, socio-economic status, etc. This site contains resources about the issues of sexual orientation and gender identity in the church. In the near future we will post our draft statement and will continue to seek input on what the final form of the statement should include. When we feel that we have reached a level of consensus, we will put the statement forward to be approved by the membership of CUMC. A successful vote for adoption will require a vote of at least 75%.
- The United Methodist Church Book of Discipline on Homosexuality
- Becoming a Reconciled individual, a Reconciled small group, or a Reconciled church by Reconciling Ministries Network
- The ‘Homosexuality’ Debate: Two Streams of Biblical Interpretation by Ted Grimsrud, Professor of Theology and Peace Studies at Eastern Mennonite University
- What’s to Prevent Us? by Rev. Keith D. Ray II, Senior Pastor of Clemson UMC, and Stanton Adams, former Director of Creative Ministries at Clemson UMC
- Fling Wide the Doors by Rev. Keith D. Ray II, Senior Pastor of Clemson UMC
- Taking God at His Word: The Bible and Homosexuality by John Shore
- Love that Does Not Count the Cost – A Call to Celibacy by Ron, member of The Gay Christian Network
- What I Believe by Justin Lee, Executive Director of The Gay Christian Network
- The Bible, Homosexuality, and The UMC – Part 1 by Adam Hamilton, founding pastor of the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection
- Getting to Church Vitality by Rev. Tom Berlin, Lead Pastor of Floris UMC
- Resources on the Bible and homosexuality by Dr. James Howell, Senior Pastor of Myers Park UMC
- Can You Be Gay and Christian? by Matthew Vines, Founding Executive Director of The Reformation Project, and Michael Brown, leading evangelic apologist
- Welcoming but Not Affirming: An Evangelical Response to Homosexuality by Stanley J. Grenz
- Grenz asks: are same-sex relationships a viable, God-given way of giving expression to our sexuality? He reviews scientific research, the history of Christian teaching on homosexuality, the issue of biblical authority today, and the practical issues the church now face.
- God and the Gay Christian: The Biblical Case in Support of Same-Sex Relationships by Matthew Vines
- Feeling the tension between his understanding of the Bible and the reality of his same-sex orientation, Vines devoted years of intensive research into what the Bible says about homosexuality. The book has sparked heated debate, sincere soul searching, and widespread cultural change on the issue of what it means to be a faithful gay Christian.
- Redeeming Sex: Naked Conversations About Sexuality and Spirituality by Debra Hirsch
- Debra Hirsch has seen hope firsthand―in meaningful lifelong relationships with LGBT friends and neighbors, in Christian fellowships and in movements that have held a concern for people created in God’s image and a high view of the Bible’s teaching on sexuality in constructive tension. When you consider the world from the perspective of God’s kingdom mission, it turns out the smoke clears and a redemptive imagination takes root. Discover a holistic, biblical vision of sex and gender that honors God and offers good news to the world.
- Homosexuality and Christian Faith: Questions of Conscience for the Churches by Walter Wink
- Sixteen authors speak on personal encounters, the Biblical witness, define issues, assess Christian tradition, summarize prophetic voices, and discuss acceptance and blessings related to our faith and homosexuality.
- Love is an Orientation: Elevating the Conversation with the Gay Community by Andrew Marin
- Marin’s life changed forever when his three best friends came out to him in three consecutive months. Suddenly he was confronted with the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community (GLBT) firsthand. And he was compelled to understand how he could reconcile his friends to his faith. In an attempt to answer that question, he and his wife relocated to Boystown, a predominantly GLBT community in Chicago. And from his experience and wrestling has come his book, Love Is an Orientation, a work which elevates the conversation between Christianity and the GLBT community, moving the focus from genetics to gospel, where it really belongs.