Archive for Thursday, March 3, 2011

Baldwin First UMC to include ‘safe place’ wording in welcoming statement

March 3, 2011

After a unanimous vote Jan. 24 by the council of the Baldwin First United Methodist Church, BFUMC became the first church in Baldwin City to include a welcoming statement acknowledging it as a “safe space.”

A safe space means a place that is openly welcoming of all people, especially in terms of sexual orientation.

Matthew Potterton, adviser to the Baker University Gay-Straight Alliance group, began working at the church about a year ago, before he was the group’s adviser. Several months after he began working, a parishioner at the church approached Potterton about making the church a safe space.

“Both the pastor (The Rev. Connie Wilson) and I agreed that it needed to be a parishioner-led thing,” Potterton said. “Whatever she believed and whatever I believed shouldn’t be the driving force, it should be because that’s what the church felt.”

The parishioner, separate from Potterton, then put together a campaign and took it to the council.

“He showed how many other Methodist churches, not only in the United States but even some around here, had welcoming statements on their Web sites and he made the argument that we shouldn’t allow anyone to feel uncomfortable, regardless of their sexual orientation, in our church,” Potterton said.

As the GSA adviser, he hopes a welcoming statement will be posted on the church’s Web site, so that members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, often shortened to LGBT, can and feel safe, Potterton said. He also said Wilson has mentioned a statement about how the church is safe and welcoming of all people as part of the service.

The Baker GSA group has offered to give safe-space training at the church, where members of the church would be taught what to do if someone comes to them with a LGBT concern.

“We’re not sure what our role is going to be in that, but we want to help in any way that we can,” Potterton said. “We see it as only a positive.”

The GSA group has also reached out to Baldwin High School, with the hopes of starting a group at the school.

Potterton thinks the decision for the BFUMC to become a safe space could open the door to other members of the Baldwin City community to follow.

“I see this move the church is making really big and I think someday we can look back at this as really a huge step toward the bigger mission,” Potterton said, “which is getting everybody to understand this.”

Comments

8grands 3 years, 9 months ago

I thought all churches were a safe place if following God's Word. LGBT individuals, as well as any others of us who have our problems and shortcomings, should of course be welcome to worship and hear the Word. I would think that is a given in our churches. Those churches who follow the Bible are there to help us to overcome and live our lives in accordance with His Word, our life guide. Hopefully welcoming individuals and acceptance of a lifestyle the Bible itself admonishes are not being confused here. What are the members of the church taught when someone comes to them with a LGBT concern? Don't you direct them to the pastor or counselor? What kind of group at BHS. Certainly not promoting such a lifestyle? If so, NO.

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Peabody 3 years, 9 months ago

8grands, thanks for your brave and public condemnation of LGBT persons based on your strict interpretation of selected Bible scriptures. I know you are following the teachings you know to be true.

Nonetheless, numerous empirical studies indicate the suicide rate of LGBT teenagers is 3-4 times higher than heterosexual teenagers. I refuse to accept that these young persons are somehow expendable and believe the actions of the BFUMC may be a positive step to assist their adjustment. For that reason, I commend the church on this change to the church's welcoming statement.

I am sure you feel passionate and fully certain about your stance on this issue. Given that, I find it curious you would hide behind a blog name. Although I cannot be sure of this, my understanding is that St. Paul, the most virulent opponent of homosexuality in the New Testament, signed all his epistles.

Tony Brown

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8grands 3 years, 9 months ago

Wow Peabocy, did I hit a nerve? Would you read my comment again? Don't believe I made a public condemnation. My point was that I thought churches already are welcoming of EVERYONE, with any and all the problems we might have. If not, they should be. Why would the BCUMC need an additional statement if they have always welcomed everyone? Would you just please answer that question then? My understanding - not "interpretation" - is based upon what Paul wrote, not how I might "interpret" it. .I think you my friend have been duped into trying to portray Bible-believing individuals as somehow uncaring. How sad. Have you ever considered that the sad statistics you relay for these teenagers may be because of this lifestyle? I say if you truly cared about them, you would help them to find their way out rather than "assist" them to adjust.

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8grands 3 years, 9 months ago

Wow Peabocy, did I hit a nerve? Would you read my comment again? Don't believe I made a public condemnation. My point was that I thought churches already are welcoming of EVERYONE, with any and all the problems we might have. If not, they should be. Why would the BCUMC need an additional statement if they have always welcomed everyone? Would you just please answer that question then? My understanding - not "interpretation" - is based upon what Paul wrote, not how I might "interpret" it. .I think you my friend have been duped into trying to portray Bible-believing individuals as somehow uncaring. How sad. Have you ever considered that the sad statistics you relay for these teenagers may be because of this lifestyle? I say if you truly cared about them, you would help them to find their way out rather than "assist" them to adjust.

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8grands 3 years, 9 months ago

Wow Peabocy, did I hit a nerve? Would you read my comment again? Don't believe I made a public condemnation. My point was that I thought churches already are welcoming of EVERYONE, with any and all the problems we might have. If not, they should be. Why would the BCUMC need an additional statement if they have always welcomed everyone? Would you just please answer that question then? My understanding - not "interpretation" - is based upon what Paul wrote, not how I might "interpret" it. .I think you my friend have been duped into trying to portray Bible-believing individuals as somehow uncaring. How sad. Have you ever considered that the sad statistics you relay for these teenagers may be because of this lifestyle? I say if you truly cared about them, you would help them to find their way out rather than "assist" them to adjust.

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Julie Craig 3 years, 9 months ago

8grands - I think the intent is to make all of God's children feel safe and welcome, not to promote a lifestyle or help someone "find their way out." (Not sure what that means, exactly)

There have been some issues in the past regarding judgmental and non-welcoming leadership in our community. I think this is a wonderful step for BFUMC to take. Kudos!

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Nathaniel Johnson 3 years, 9 months ago

Having closely read 8grands statement the I believe that 8grands statement makes it clear that he/she/it believes that homosexuality is both a choice and that it is also a sin. First in addressing the sin, If you really believe in the prohibitions of the bible then you should follow all of them. Even the inconvenient ones. I have a list for you to consider:

Wives are supposed to be ‘submissive’ to their husbands (I Peter 3:1). Women are forbidden to teach men (I Timothy 2:12), Women are admonished not to wear Elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes(I Timothy 2:9), Women are not permitted to dress in clothing that ‘pertains to a man.’ (Deuteronomy 22:5). All are forbidden to eat shellfish and pork (Leviticus 11:7, 10[ abomination] ), usury is forbidden[loaning money at interest] (Deuteronomy 23:19[deserving of death] ), Shaving (Leviticus 19:27), Wearing clothes of more than one fabric (Leviticus 19:19).

Perhaps these are just too inconvenient for you to follow. Far easier to pick a visceral issue like homosexuality and make your stand there. Every time Christians put forth agenda items like homosexuality they are dodging the real issues that Christianity faces today, namely that of becoming irrelevant in today's society. When a mainstream church like the UMC makes an attempt to address these issues, they are cut off at the knees by a few throwbacks hiding in the corners. Note that 8Grand doesn't sign his/her/its post.

Having been close to many gay men and women, I am certain that it is not a choice and that they are neither evil nor good because of their sexual orientation. It is certainly not a lifestyle choice.

I should make it clear that I am not a Christian (I am a Unitarian Universalist) so the whole notion of taking the words of man as the literal intentions of a God seems absurd to me. Further, the idea that a God would doom any disbeliever to eternal burning makes me certain that it is no force/idea/deity that I will ever lend my support to and I would stand firmly in opposition to if I actually believed that is was real. Instead, I trust the internal compass that guides me. Some might call that God. I don't actually know. I just listen.

Nathaniel Johnson gruyere.emmentaler@gmail.com

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Peabody 3 years, 9 months ago

8grands, you do hit a nerve when you makes statements like, "Hopefully welcoming individuals and acceptance of a lifestyle the Bible itself admonishes are not being confused here," and then pretend that you are not condemning homosexuality.

At least say what the literal interpretation of the Bible tells us: God hates fags -- either change or suffer the consequences of eternal agony and pain. I would appreciate that level of honesty from your post.

Tony

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NUKD 3 years, 9 months ago

So, let me get this straight. In the mind of the professor, a person cannot both love and admonish at the same time. His false dichotomy may make sense on the planet of the apes, but in the real world, it falls flat on its face. As any parent knows, love and admonishment are inseparable. How else can we teach our kids? Aside from sounding very arrogant, I find the professors gross mistreatment of scripture to be not only crass, but also below the intelligence level of a person with a PhD. The unmitigated gall, to then go on to question 8grands motivation and integrity.

I'll say it again. Wow!

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Nathaniel Johnson 3 years, 9 months ago

NUKD,

I can not speak for Tony but I would make it clear that I believe that you can not take the literal facts as presented in the Bible and be a compassionate person. Christian apologist abound today that say otherwise (Robert Funk, Elaine Pagels, etc) by saying that the Bible portrays an inaccurate view of Jesus's teachings because they were manipulated by early bishops, intentional mistranslations, etc. Having repeatedly read the Bible (NIV, King James both) I do not understand how someone who actually READ the bible could come away thinking that the Old Testament God is anything but evil and the New Testament God is anything but insane. Perhaps if you spent time reading the ALL of the scripture and thinking about what you read rather than regurgitating some new age dogma about how admonish and love are inseparable, you might actually have an opinion worth listening too. It might also help if you had the courage of your convictions and didn't post anonymously.

Nathaniel Johnson

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NUKD 3 years, 9 months ago

Thank you for admitting your lack of understanding by regurgitating the ideas of Robert Funk and Elaine Pagels from the notoriously liberal "Jesus Seminar" to somehow give your argument some credibility! FYI, a Christian apologist would be someone who defends the faith not tries to discredit it. Fortunately for the honest doubter, there is abundant manuscript evidence (5,366 separate Greek manuscripts) for the Bible being true to the original text. In fact, more manuscript evidence than any other ancient text in existence. But I won't bore you with the facts, because you are obviously not interested in such trivia. BTW, I wonder what the BCUMC thinks about the affirmation of somebody who thinks God is evil, Jesus is insane and the Bible on which their faith is founded is a fraud? Keep following that internal compass my friend, I can see it's really working for you "duh, winning"! As far as "new age dogma" goes, I have no idea what you are talking about and can not answer to that criticism.

To the original point of this article, I really don't recall the Apostle Paul spending an inordinate amount of time calling out, and railing against homosexuals, as both you and the professor have implied.

Paul wrote about the the fact of Christ's resurrection!

1 Corinthians 15  1 Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand,  2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.  3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,  4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,  5 and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.  6 After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep;  7 then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles;  8 and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also.  9 For I am the least of the apostles, and not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.  

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Nathaniel Johnson 3 years, 8 months ago

It is curious that you say "my friend" in your post. Do you know me or are simply being disingenuous? A trait I find common in your subset of posters. These traits also include anonymous, smug, and pseudo-articulate. You cut and paste a small piece of a very long and complicated piece of a very complex set of documents in a language other than the original and this somehow satisfies your need to to beat me down into logical submission. The problem is that your arguments do not address my essential point which is that even if you take the Bible at face value (black letter law), it is impossible to pull a cohesive philosophy from it. For every opinion rendered you can find opposing value statements. In your first post you accused Tony Brown of having a "false dichotomy" which, if you understood the definition, then you would realize that you are the one with the false dichotomy - eg. you have decided that the Bible is all true rather than all false. The false dichotomy can run either way. If you didn't have a false dichotomy, you would be saying that it is somewhat true, or somewhat false or some other "gray" position.

I will take a shot at your statement about the "truth" of the Bible though, just to be argumentative. You assert that the Bible is true because an arbitrarily large number of documents in the original language (5,366 separate Greek manuscripts) prove that the Bible has not changed since it was written. You then state that "In fact, more manuscript evidence than any other ancient text in existence". Both statement are easily dis-proven(more below) but even more humorous to me is the general statement you are making, e.g. that a large number of old writings make something true or false. Does this mean that the more documents you can find, the truer something is? Does it mean that the older a document is the truer it is? If so, then you should consider converting to early Greek Mythology for which there are even more documents available. The Chines also have a wondrously large number of old documents, predating the Greek stuff by at least a thousand years. Should you convert to Taoism?

So lets move on to your next assertion. This arbitrarily large number of texts shows that the Bible is true because they point to how well the Bible has been preserved. Lets start with the obvious. Which Bible? Is there one agreed upon Bible? Which one is it? This was what drove all those historical Jesus writers to make their study. They were also bothered by the fact that each of those four "original" gospels portrayed a very different Jesus and that there exist many versions of each of those gospels. Those many documents you were referring to actually prove the opposite of what you are saying. In order for your premise to be true, all those documents would need to match. They don't.

Nathaniel Johnson gruyere.emmentaler@gmail.com

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NUKD 3 years, 8 months ago

GruyereEmmentaler:

You are truly amazing! With your distorted worldview, not to mention your facts, I wonder if you can believe "anything" is true. I believe we can know God exist beyond a reasonable doubt by examining all the evidence from creation, archeology and the manuscripts. The point of the manuscript evidence is in the "fact" that the oldest fragments are "not" much different in meaning than what we have today, not just the quantity. The evidence of archeology is numerous, Nineveh is just one example from the Bible. The evidence from creation is being explored through the lens of the most cutting edge technology of our time, rather than the blurry lens of 19th century Charles Darwin.

I believe that there are the truly ignorant and those that are ignorant by choice. You sir, fall into the later category. Peace out my friend, life is too short to be wasted arguing with a garden variety pagan and the average college professor.

Psalm 14:1 The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”

Happy April Fool's Day!

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