A STATEMENT PROCLAIMING THE BELCHERTOWN UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST AN OPEN AND AFFIRMING CHURCH.
ADOPTED BY UNANIMOUS CONSENT OF THE CONGREGATION ON FEBRUARY 6, 2005
1.Whereas we have been created in love by our loving God; (Genesis 1: 27-28a)
2.Whereas in our baptism into Jesus Christ each individual is initiated without prejudice into a life changing and Spirit filled life lived in community, wherein the individual can dedicate him/herself to growing in faith, experience the nurture of Christian fellowship, regularly break bread, and engage in communal acts of prayer; (Acts 2: 14-47)
3.Whereas in the sacrament of Communion members of the Body of Christ are called into a new relationship/new covenant between God and humankind;
4. Whereas that new covenant transcends cultural expectations or norms and offers the Christian community a glimpse of God's nurturing and salvific love for all people;
5. Whereas John records Jesus as praying at his Last Supper with the disciples, "that they may all be one" (John 17:21):
6. Whereas this congregation has recognized by vote at its 2000 annual meeting, in a Statement of Intentional Ministry, the importance of nurturing Christian discipleship in all people by resolving to: be a church that seeks to: Identify, Equip, Encourage, and Evaluate Christian Discipleship, Anytime, Anywhere, by anyone, for the purpose of nurturing an individual's gifts and visions, thereby strengthening and glorifying the Body of Christ as it realizes itself in the world;
7. Whereas this congregation has had open discussion with regard to welcoming and ministering with people who have been historically ostracized from the wider body of Christian fellowship (in particular but not exclusively): people of color; people who are gay, lesbian, heterosexual, bisexual, or transgender; people who are economically challenged; people of varying marital status; people of varying nationalities; people of varying ages; people who are living with mental, emotional, and/or physical abilities other than what is considered "normal" by our culture
8. Whereas we recognize that "silence" in words and deeds can lead to spiritual dis-ease and unrest, disenfranchisement and even death;
9. Whereas this congregation has considered in prayer and study the importance of welcoming all of God's children to the table of reconciliation and healing;
10. Whereas this congregation is about building up the Body of Christ as it seeks to glorify God in the world;
11. Therefore, we do now declare this body of Christ, The Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, in Belchertown, MA to be Open and Affirming of all people wishing to grow and mature in the Christian faith. We understand this to mean that we will seek to be welcoming in both word and deed to the delightful diversity of peoples whom God has given us to minister with in Jesus' name including: people of all colors; people who are gay, lesbian, heterosexual, bisexual, or transgender; people who are economically challenged; people of all marital status; people of all nationalities; people of all ages; people who are living with mental, emotional, and/or physical abilities other than what is considered "normal" by our culture; we welcome all people to grow in Christian discipleship by using the gifts which the Spirit provides to participate fully in the ministries of this church.