What is Reconciling Ministry?
Auburn First United Methodist Church celebrates diversity and welcomes each person who comes here to seek God and Christian love and justice. We invite all to full participation in the life of this church regardless of gender, race, national origin, physical or mental abilities, sexual orientation, age, marital status, or economic condition. In our quest to bear the light of Christ, we will know no circles of exclusion, and therefore declare ourselves to be an open, reconciling and inclusive congregation.
A Reconciling Ministry Team at Auburn First United Methodist Church has been established with a mission to:
Extend Christ’s love to, and to share Christ’s love with the LGBTQ+, disabled, immigrant, minority and other individuals who do not always feel welcomed by the church
Be intentional in practicing and celebrating the words in our reconciling statement
The Team will accomplish its work by organizing a variety of education, outreach, advocacy, service, and fellowship activities. If you wish to join or support the Reconciling Ministry Team, contact the chair, Paula Hills, at email@example.com.
How did Reconciling Ministry start at AFUMC?
The Reconciling Ministry team has been hard at work for several years now at AFUMC. The decision to become a Reconciling Church is one that affects the entire congregation, and therefore takes much thinking and preparation beforehand.
Lighting the Fire
Our journey towards reconciliation began during the 2014 Lenten season. Our pastor brought in a guest speaker who led a discussion about the discriminating language in the Book of Discipline regarding the LGBTQ community and the need for the Methodist church to reconcile with this community. This message resonated with a few participants and we started down the road to formally becoming a reconciling church.
Education, Planning, and Approvals
To move forward with a discernment process, we needed approval from the Vision Team and the Church Council. This is a very divisive subject in the Methodist Church (and elsewhere), and we spent many hours educating ourselves and preparing for discussions with these committees. We attended local Reconciling Convocations as well as the National Reconciling Convocation in August 2015. We used resources from the Reconciling Ministries Network and called on leaders who have successfully guided other churches to become reconciling in the South Puget Sound Area. It wasn’t easy, but our planning and perseverance paid off as we finally received approval to move forward with the discernment process in February 2016.
As a committee, we planned events to engage the congregation in open dialog about the treatment of LGBTQ persons in the Book of Discipline. We distributed and responded to survey questions documenting answers to many questions, provided books and information for study, held a “testimonial luncheon” for the congregation to hear first-hand experiences from fellow members, and organized small group studies for more intimate, meaningful conversation about LGBTQ issues and scripture.
Key to our decision-making was the full support of our pastors. They provided guidance to the committee, helped us navigate the approval process, and assisted in laying the foundation for biblical study of the subject in Sunday sermons and individual conversations.
On September 11, 2016, we took a “straw poll” of the congregation to determine whether we could move forward with an official vote or if we had more work to do. The poll indicated that we were ready!
On October 30, 2016 we held an All Church Conference, and with 95% acceptance voted to become a local, reconciling church!
While becoming a Reconciling Ministry was a long and arduous process, our work has only just begun.