Mill Plain United Methodist Church took a momentous step December 2, 2021. By action of our Charge Conference and after a congregation-wide ballot that was 91% in favor, we officially became a Reconciling Church. That means we openly welcome and affirm people of all gender expressions, gender identities, and sexual orientations. This vote was the culmination of work that began in 2019. When the pandemic hit, we put that work on the back burner for a while, morphed into work around anti-racism, and then resumed the Reconciling Ministry focus last fall.
For many of us, this decision does not really feel all that momentous. “Isn’t that who we are as a congregation anyway?” several people have commented. The answer is, “yes.” Mill Plain has striven for more years than I’ve been around to welcome all people, regardless of who they are. I realized last summer that the book studies and conversations we had around anti-racism addressed the same issue as the discussions we’d had earlier around gender expression, gender identity, and sexual orientation: how is it that we welcome people as beloved children of God?
What makes this so momentous and so important, is that some groups of people have been told by many churches that they are NOT welcome. Indeed, many people have not felt safe at church because of the messages that they are sinful for who they are or who they love. Because of that, we have learned how important it is to clearly and specifically state our welcome. That was the step we took Dec. 2. We will now learn how to live into that decision.
You can learn more under our Social Justice page, where you will find our Reconciling Ministry Foundational Statement, our Antiracism statement and a Land Acknowledgment. These statements tie together our commitment to welcome people who have traditionally been marginalized from the church. They set the stage for the work on social justice we will continue to do in the next year. I invite you to join me in learning and growing in our welcome. Truly each of us IS a beloved child of God.