One of the things I love most about you is the way you seek to expand God’s love and protection into the world. You are especially committed to extending this care to those the church has sometimes struggled to include. This past year has been an especially hard one for the United Methodist Church. At the special General Conference that was held in February, the church again stood deeply divided on its ability to offer full inclusion to our LGBTQ+ members. It has been a difficult season for many at the highest levels of church leadership to determine the best way forward.
In my opening introduction to Royal Oak First in the spring of 2016, the Staff/Parish Relations Committee, the personnel body of the local church, was clear that they expected their new pastor to lead in a manner that would extend our welcome to ALL people. They were clear with me that this included our LGBTQ+ members and neighbors. It did not take long to see that at the very heart of this congregation is a gracious and loving spirit. Royal Oak First already had a history of inclusion, so widening our invitation and deepening our hospitality has come naturally.
In these months, many of you have asked what you do to make sure the doors remain open to our LGBTQ+ friends, family, and neighbors. At this time we are forming a Diversity and Inclusion Team. This team will help us extend our reach into the community, provide ministry opportunities for families and allies, and create learning opportunities to dig deeper into the intersection of faith and human sexuality. This team is open to anyone who wants to support a welcoming and inclusive space and will meet again Wednesday, June 19, at 7:00 pm at the church. I am grateful to Katie Fitzpatrick, Robin Oesterwind, and Michael Monte for bringing this group together.
In addition, we will have a presence at two important community events. The first is Ferndale Pride, which takes place on Saturday, June 1. We will have a table where we will give away our God Loves You bracelets, share loving care, and extend a heartfelt invitation to join our movement of making Christ’s Love Real. The second is Family Pride night at the Royal Oak Farmers’ Market. This event will be a part of the Food Truck Rally, and we will provide a table with family-friendly games and prizes. This will be a great event to invite families to come and be a part of our Vacation Bible School.
If you are able to be a part of either of these events, please stop by the Connect Here Desk after worship and find a time where you can serve.
Thank you for being a part of this movement to where making Christ’s Love Real is at the center of all we do.
Grace and Peace,