I recently served as keynote speaker at the United Church of Christ’s 2014 National Gathering of Faithful and Welcoming Churches. What a joy and privilege to share Posture Shift with so many loving and Christ-honoring church leaders from around the country! 

“Faithful and Welcoming” (F&W) captures what many conservative churches are striving for: a generous orthodoxy that preserves historical scriptural beliefs while maximizing inclusion of all people. This is an alternative to “Open and Affirming” (O&A), which offers full support of same-gender relationships. F&W serves as a bridge for inclusion within more conservative churches.

While some who hold to O&A beliefs decry the F&W structure, it is really critical to point out that this structure preserves unity across “the belief gap” within mainline denominations. Without this option, many conservative churches are at higher risk to leaving their denomination.

Preserving unity in the midst of “belief gap” issues is common, but maintaining this unity across differing beliefs on same-gender relationships is more difficult to achieve. UCC has a motto: “That They May All Be One.”  I just spent two days with dozens of humble church leaders who desire to honor the Bible, enhance inclusion and preserve unity within their denomination.

It would be easy to leave. It would be even easier to change a church name to hide denominational affiliation. It is quite difficult to stay and hold to conservative beliefs. In this crowd, at least one O&A pastor attended the event. He humbly and graciously applauded his conservative counterparts’ attempt to increase inclusion of LGBT+ folks within their churches.

With love and humility, all things are possible. I just witnessed something beautifully possible: churches committed to maintaining unity across a difficult belief gap. They are to be commended.

Many thanks to Corinth Reformed Church for such awesome hospitality! You all are wonderful…   

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