What does "open and affirming" mean?
"Open and Affirming" is the phrase used to describe Disciples of Christ churches that welcome members of the LGBT community into fellowship and communion. To be open and affirming does not mean merely that a church will allow persons of a homosexual orientation to attend church, no questions asked. To be open refers to the intellectual, spiritual, and emotional process a church undertakes to truly understand homosexuality as a human condition. To be affirming is to celebrate, with our LGBT brothers and sisters, the glory of creation in all its diversity, and to stand with them in a demand for justice and equality.
After much discussion and prayer, in 1994 we adopted a statement to reflect this position. The statement we crafted aims to make clear the broad range of people who will find a place to belong within our congregation, and it is in fact broader in scope than just reaching out to the LGBT community. Read our statement for yourself:
Open and Affirming Statement
By the grace made known to us in Christ, we glorify God, we commit ourselves to growth in the Spirit, and we rejoice in the worth, gifts and dignity of every person as a child of God. We affirm Christ's call to love God with all that we are and to love our neighbors as ourselves, striving to love unconditionally as we are loved.
In response to God's grace:
1. We welcome all people who share our commitment contained in the affirmation above into our faith community. This welcome includes but is not limited to those of all ages, genders, races, classes, family configurations, sexual orientations and medical conditions;
2. We invite all persons who profess faith in Jesus Christ into membership in the congregation, with full and appropriate opportunities and responsibilities for participation, leadership and ministry;
3. We commit ourselves to seek justice for all human beings. We will encourage each other to stand firm against all acts of discrimination, persecution and violence, whether those acts are verbal, emotional, economic, social, legal, sexual or physical;
4. We acknowledge the many ways in which individuals choose to form families based on love, commitment and mutual respect. We support and celebrate loving and committed relationships;
5. We declare ourselves to be an "open and affirming" congregation. We support other congregations who have studied this issue, and encourage all others to continue their exploration of inclusiveness.