How does your church say “Welcome!?

In 2012, our Annual Conference members voted favorably on a proposal that said, in part, “…that each of our congregations adopt a statement that specifically welcomes people of all sexual orientations and gender identities in their membership, ministries, and leadership.” Reasoning for the proposal includes the following:

“The process of study and discernment that leads to adopting such statements of welcome can strengthen a congregation’s commitment to radical hospitality and can lead to increased vitality.” The action “…will expand the witness of our Annual Conference and our churches as inclusive and welcoming places. Local church members will be better prepared to advocate for changes to church polity and civil laws that discriminate and harm. It will position our Annual Conference to welcome the 2016 General Conference to a United Methodist environment where all people are valued and welcomed, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Why is a clear Welcome statement important? Our Bishop calls us to be “a church for all God’s children, intentionally opening its heart, mind, and doors to everyone! Where disciples of Jesus Christ proclaim and practice acceptance of all without regard for who they are, what they look like, or whom they love.” We already have Standing Resolutions in place that call for open membership and welcoming all sexual minorities; this action urges each congregation to articulate its welcome.
Who is challenged to do this work? The 2012 resolution makes that clear, “Congregations will write their own welcoming statements.”
Development time has been ample. In January, I asked the District Lay Leaders to query their congregations about each one’s new or improved welcome statements. We have heard from several yet not all. You can read the list we've gathered so far. Is your church included? Do you have a welcoming statement? Perhaps you publish it in your bulletin or on your reader board or web site or newsletter. You may call it something other than “welcoming statement” yet it is the statement that conveys to seekers and sojourners the welcome that your congregation offers. This list is growing. Send your welcome statement to me right away. We will have an updated list for Annual Conference session 2016.

Mary Foote
Conference Lay Leader
Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference

Mary Foote
Mary Foote was elected as Conference lay Leader in 2012. She is a mom, wife, and dental hygienist. As a member at the Hillsboro United Methodist Church she is active in many areas, but has a special passion for Hispanic Ministry and the English as a second language program. Contact her at marycfoote@yahoo.com or (503)648-3072.