A statement from the Pastor regarding LGBTQ+ Affirmation
Beloved of God,
One thing that strikes me about the earliest followers of Jesus is the strength of conviction with which they held both to Jesus’s teaching and the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit. Sadly, the social and religious contexts that made early Christians so contemptable to some of their neighbors, and yet inspiring to others, is lost on many Christians today.
Rachel Held Evans remarks that “What makes the Gospel offensive isn't who it keeps out, but who it lets in.” You needn’t look any further than the life of Jesus, or the Apostle Paul’s Gentile-inclusive Gospel to observe the truth of this.
This scandalous inclusion is what made the Apostle Paul so contemptable to his more “orthodox” opponents, it’s what made the abolitionists so contemptable to pro-slavery theologians and anti-slavery moderates alike. It’s what continues to make women pastors so contemptable to many conservative Christians. But like the Apostle Paul, we are not ashamed of God’s power to save us from the divisions that we have historically relished in God’s name (Romans 1:16).
The historical amnesia that continues to cause Christians to repeat our predictably oppressive history is nothing new. Nevertheless, this forgetting is anything but inevitable. Within the ebb and flow of history, churches have risen up in faithful witness to resist those beliefs and practices that are contrary to the Gospel of God’s New Creation. Williamsburg Baptist seeks to live into that holy tradition.
After a long process of individual and collective prayer, worship, learning, conversation, and discernment, members present at a July 23rd business meeting of Williamsburg Baptist Church voted unanimously, and enthusiastically, to accept a Constitution & Bylaws, which includes a statement extending membership to LGBTQ+ individuals.
While our church has never adopted an exclusionary statement against LGBTQ+ people, I proposed that we make an explicit statement as a witness to our commitment to extend God’s welcome in a culture that still – in many ways – is unsafe for LGBTQ+ people.
So we ask the Williamsburg community to celebrate with us. We ask LGBTQ+ people and their allies to forgive us for our slowness. For those who do not understand our decision, or even find us contemptable, please know that this decision came because of our Christian convictions, not in spite of them.
Know that this is not a mere capitulation to the culture. Rather, this is a decision stemming from our overall commitment to the justice-love of God and our reading of the Bible’s liberative witness and trajectory. We stand confidently – before God and neighbor – in this decision.
We know that we are not perfect. Williamsburg Baptist Church is a fallible community, full of sinner-saints who try our best to love God and neighbor well. So, we realize that this decision represents a milestone, and not a destination. There is more progress to be made and we are looking for more fellow pilgrims who want to see a church mirror God’s justice-love as much as Christians claim to.
We want to become a space made holy by the love that we share, as we transition from one degree of God’s glory to another (2 Corinthians 3:18) - until we look more like the Christ who loves us and boldly proclaimed God’s dream for this creation to look more like the life of heaven.
With humility, joy, and hope - and above all, love,