“I won’t go to your church because it’s too liberal.” Someone recently shared that this comment was made about First Christian Church Pomona. More specifically, it had to do with the fact that our ministerial intern is openly gay and that the congregation is open and affirming.
The word “liberal” means “open: open to new behavior or opinions.” Apparently, our congregation is too open. It all started when we took to heart the open table of Jesus Christ and affirmed, “All are welcome here. Christ invites everyone; we set the table and serve.”
It may be that we are “too open” for some people, but when people at a gay night club are massacred I think the church needs to be a safe place for people still hated by too many. The word “sanctuary” means “a place of refuge or safety.” The example of Jesus teaches us that refuge and safety are offered to people the rest of society marginalizes and even hates. Right now, members of the LGBTQ community continue to be marginalized AND targeted for hate crimes.
Most of the people who visit our congregation visit our web page first. They find our web page because they google “gay friendly church”. Some of them self-identify as part of the LGBTQ community. Some of them have family and friends who are part of the LGBTQ and want to worship God in a sanctuary where they will not hear hate speech about people they love. Some of them stay because what they read on the web page they experience in our community.
We are a relational community, centered in the grace of God we know in Jesus. We are a community of faith around the table of Christ, extending the hospitality we receive every week to people who walk through our doors and people who never will. We have a ministry patterned after that of Jesus: open to people and the world around us. Thanks be to God.