The membership of First Christian Church in Jasper unanimously voted last week to proclaim themselves to be an open and affirming congregation. The resolution approved by the members affirms in …
The membership of First Christian Church in Jasper unanimously voted last week to proclaim themselves to be an open and affirming congregation.
The resolution approved by the members affirms in part that “full and equal participation in the life and leadership of our church is open to all.”
The Daily Mountain Eagle reported on that vote, the first of its kind in Walker County, in its Tuesday edition. It was clear by viewing many of the comments made on the story via the newspaper’s Facebook page that a little confusion over what that vote meant might be an understatement.
Rev. C.J. Cobb explained the reason for the vote pretty clearly in an interview with the DME.
“We thought it was time that Jasper had a congregation that would open its doors officially and let the community know that the LGBTQ community is welcome in our doors in leadership, membership and any of our programs,” Cobb said.
The vote wasn’t to allow gay or lesbian people to attend the church, as many Facebook commenters suggested. Cobb was open in stating that FCC has openly welcomed anyone in its doors for a long, long time.
The resolution approved on Sunday reads, "First Christian Church of Jasper, Alabama, is an Open and Affirming Congregation. We openly welcome persons of all sexual orientation, gender expression, socioeconomic status, family configuration, age, national origin, race, religious or non-religious background, and physical or mental condition. We embrace all people at any point in their faith journey and recognize each person’s spiritual gifts. We proclaim God’s inclusive welcome to the Communion Table, and affirm that full and equal participation in the life and leadership of our church is open to all. We seek to continue to learn and grow in our efforts to be a movement for wholeness in a fragmented world."
I applaud FCC on being brave enough to pass such a resolution.
Throughout the years, my personal thoughts on homosexuality/gay marriage has changed greatly. I started as someone who would have quoted the Old Testament and called it an abomination. I changed those views and felt it was a sin, but it wouldn’t have been any worse than any other sin. After many years of studying those scriptures regarding homosexuality, I now believe they are basically clobber verses used out of context. I don’t see it as sinful behavior at this point if it is a monogamous relationship. I have no problem with people who feel it is sinful; we are all on different parts of the journey. I do try to point out that if it is sinful, it shouldn’t be considered any different than a divorced person marrying someone else, but Christians conveniently look over that behavior pretty much universally at this point.
I am ordained and have performed several wedding ceremonies over the years, including one a couple of years ago for two lesbian friends of ours. I understand my position is in the minority, especially in our culture, but it has been a position that I have come to through much prayer, thought and study. It is also a position that just feels right in my heart.
I have witnessed on too many occasions, almost daily if you read social media comments, that LGBTQ people are treated as lesser than human beings in church settings. I am amazed at the faith many of those people have shown despite almost constantly being treated as if they are not wanted within the fellowship of many church buildings. Thankfully, buildings are just that. The Church is the people who follow Christ and love unconditionally. There are a lot of hurting people (all races, genders and sexual orientations) in our community who feel they are basically worthless in the eyes of Christians. A vote like the one made by FCC may give a little hope to those people. A vote like that may show them there is someone who loves them. If one person receives hope and love from just hearing about the vote, that made it the right thing to do.
James Phillips is editor and publisher of the Daily Mountain Eagle. He may be reached at 205-221-2840 or firstname.lastname@example.org.