It is that time of year again… the backpacks are packed and the lunches are packed. At least, this is the case for many students. As the back to school season approaches, we should all be mindful of that fact that returning to school is not happy for all people. No, I’m not just talking about the teachers who mourn their too-short summer breaks. For some students, summer is a reminder of lack of resources or broken families and communities. Some teachers have spent the summer caring for relatives or dealing with their own health too long neglected. Going back to school is a challenge, the doors of a building or a bus the reminder of hurts too deep to express.
That is what coming to church is for some people. The doors of a church building don’t open to the memories of a caring community. For some, the church has held abuse and prejudice. For others, the church is a place with more intolerance than a person can handle.
We try our best to support students who struggle to go back to school. We hope to provide resources for teachers and school staff who give of themselves to support educating our young people. But for those who cannot bring themselves to set foot in a church? It is easiest for us to judge their choices and perpetuate the very attitudes which keep people out in the first place.
As Linworth United Methodist Church is seeking to welcome all people in the Spirit of Christ, we have before us a statement of inclusion. For too long LGBTQIA+ children of God have been harmed by the attitudes of congregations and denominations, the United Methodist Church being no exception. The statement, crafted by the Reconciling Team at LUMC to articulate the community which has historically gathered as Linworth United Methodist Church, would serve as a way to open the doors of our congregation to those who may be seeking an accepting and inclusive community of faith.
As students and teachers head back to school, will you join me in praying them and for those who are thinking about coming back to church?
(below are portions of the statement of inclusion)
Linworth UMC has a rich tradition of being a welcoming place for all people to worship God in a loving community of faith…
…Linworth UMC welcomes and affirms LGBTQIA+ individuals into the full life and ministry of the church. Furthermore, Linworth UMC welcomes and affirms all people regardless of race, gender identity, sexual orientation, nationality, physical ability, socioeconomic status, or faith background as part of our community…
…Therefore, at the invitation of Christ, Linworth UMC pledges to make space for one another, welcome one another, and love one another as God first loved us.