Welcoming or Affirming?
This is the big question. Why become an Open and Affirming church? Isn’t being Welcoming the same thing? Well, not quite.
Welcoming: Anyone can come through the door and sit through the service. However, the congregation reserves the option make people change fundamental parts of their identity to be full members of the church. They may face disapproval or judgment.
Affirming: Anyone can come through the door and sit in the service. The congregation accepts differences in the way its members construct their identities and embraces this diversity as a gift from God. All people belong equally to the church.
Welcoming can turn into affirming, but our terminology matters. Welcoming can look like a trap to people who have been hurt by churches before. It can get them in the door so others can preach at them or judge them. By committing ourselves to be an affirming church, we promise all people who enter our doors greater support and acceptance than we show by remaining welcoming. Our churches become a safe place for all different sorts of people to worship and find fellowship.
Some Common Questions:
Question: Why should we make a public statement that we are affirming?
Answer: So that other people know. This statement tells people who aren’t currently part of our church that they can belong here.
Question: Does affirming apply to only LGBTQ people?
Answer: No. While current circumstances have made LGBTQ people the focus of the Open and Affirming movement, being Open and Affirming makes the church accessible to many people who might face judgment or rejection or be otherwise marginalized in other churches because of their identities.
Question: Will this cause problems or upset people outside the church?
Answer: Maybe. Some Affirming churches have faced a backlash for their support and affirmation of LGBTQ people and others. But the people we’d be accepting face this sort of misunderstanding regularly. We can choose to be a place where they’re supported and sheltered.
Thanks to the Ankeny United Church of Christ