How Our Ministry & Mission Have Led Us to Becoming an Open & Affirming/More Light Congregation
Collenbrook United Church, since its beginning in 1975, as a union of St. Paul’s UCC and Northminster PCUSA, has perceived itself as a family of God where all can feel welcome, at home, and at ease. Collenbrook has recognized that there are individuals and groups that the greater church has not accepted and embraced fully into the fellowship of Jesus Christ. Collenbrook has endeavored to reach out to these individuals and groups through service, fellowship, and financial support. We have done so out of our conviction that this is what Jesus Christ leads us to do. We see in the life, teaching, witness, and example of Christ how we are to reach out in love to all our human neighbors.
In recent years we have witnessed the struggle of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons for acceptance within the church of Jesus Christ. We acknowledge God’s gift of sexuality with its joy, power, and mystery. We believe that God has created us as physical, rational, emotional, spiritual, and sexual beings. We also believe that our sexual orientation and gender expression are part of God’s creation and plan for us.
Since both of our denominations permit the ordination and installation of non-heterosexual persons to the offices of pastor and elder, we affirm that policy for our congregation. It is also the law of the land that same-gender couples may legally marry, which we also affirm and celebrate.
While we feel that in our actions Collenbrook has been welcoming and accepting of all persons, we understand that not all people will be aware of our openness without our making a definitive public statement of our welcoming and affirming attitude. Therefore, it is necessary for our congregation to make such a statement publicly.
We know that we are enriched as a congregation when we have a diversified membership. We recognize that different gifts, different life experiences, even different opinions can help us grow in our mutual faith. We do not wish to inhibit the ability of God to teach us and have us grow through the use of a wide diversity of individuals. In addition, we never want to prevent anyone from coming to know the joy, hope, peace, and love of Jesus Christ that all of us at Collenbrook seek.
We further affirm that we are first and foremost a Christian congregation. What brings us together and binds us as one is our common faith in Christ. We invite into full participation in our worship community everyone who makes the same commitment to God and Christ.
We pledge ourselves to continue in prayer and study and love to seek God’s will for ourselves and our church.
Open and Affirming/More Light Ministry
WHEREAS, we believe that all persons are created in the image of God and that Jesus Christ died and rose again for all persons;
WHEREAS, we believe that the world should be a place of love, compassion, and respect, free from fear, discrimination, and prejudice;
WHEREAS, as children of God we hereby reaffirm our commitment to follow God’s will as given to us in the teachings of Jesus Christ, and foremost among these teachings is Christ’s commandment to love one another;
WHEREAS, we are called by Jesus Christ to declare our faith aloud and not hide our faith from the world;
WHEREAS, becoming an Open and Affirming/More Light congregation is a witness to the wider church, proclaiming loudly and clearly exactly where Collenbrook United Church stands;
WHEREAS, we seek to heal the wounds inflicted on individuals and groups by the church and our society;
WHEREAS, since we want lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons to continue to participate in the UCC and PCUSA, we need to make a meaningful gesture of support;
WHEREAS, becoming an Open and Affirming/More Light congregation will enable lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender members to share their spiritual gifts even more freely, fully, and openly;
WHEREAS, not adopting an official policy with regard to sexual orientation and gender identity/expression regarding ordination puts an unnecessary burden on non-heterosexual people who feel called to serve the church;
WHEREAS, exclusion of anyone from the fellowship of the church wounds the body of Christ;
WHEREAS, Collenbrook United Church desires to follow Christ more fully, receiving and reaching out to all people whom God may lead to us regardless of race, color, ethnicity, age, gender, marital status, physical or mental abilities, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, economic or cultural background, or any other socially limiting barrier;
On January 28, 2001, the congregation adopted our Open and Affirming/More Light Mission Statement:
We, the people of Collenbrook United Church, humbly, prayerfully, and faithfully declare ourselves to be an Open and Affirming/More Light congregation. This means that we covenant to be open to all people. Furthermore, the members of Collenbrook United Church declare that we
- welcome into the family and life of our church all people whom God leads to us;
- accept all people who are seeking a relationship with God and with our family of Christ;
- include all persons in our worship, fellowship, learning, service, pastoral care, and leadership who make the same affirmation of faith that all our members make;
- affirm all persons with their unique and valuable gifts given to them by God;
- and celebrate the diversity of all people created in the image of God and for whom Christ suffered, died, and rose again.
Therefore, we seek to include and demonstrate Christian love to everyone regardless of race, color, ethnicity, age, gender, marital status, physical or mental abilities, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, economic or cultural background, or any other socially limiting barrier.
We also covenant to support and work toward a time when discrimination of all kinds is eliminated from our churches and our communities.
We welcome you!