An open and affirming church
Editor of the Reformer:
Members of the First Congregational Church in West Brattleboro unanimously voted to declare the church Open and Affirming at a meeting that followed Sunday worship on Sept. 15, 2013. A statement adopted by the membership explicitly extends the invitation to full life in the church to all people regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.
These qualities, along with a long list of others that have historically divided Christians, are named in an effort to make clear and public that our church affirms our belief that all are equally loved by God. It also expresses that our doors and hearts are open to all who enter.
The church’s vote followed nearly two years of study, conversation and prayer about why such a public declaration is necessary and how such a declaration could reflect our members’ beliefs about what God and Jesus have called us to be and do in the world.
The United Church of Christ adopted a denominational statement in 1985 and urged the autonomous churches affiliated with it to adopt individual statements. First Congregational Church joins several other Windham County UCC churches who have previously declared themselves to be Open and Affirming.
Following is the statement adopted by the members of the First Congregational Church: Because we believe that all people are created in God’s image and thus are blessed and loved equally by God, and because love is a unifying and strengthening force within our Christian faith, We, the members of the First Congregational Church of West Brattleboro, United Church of Christ, hereby declare ourselves an Open and Affirming Christian community, actively expressing Jesus’ inclusive embrace of all people.
We welcome all who seek to follow Jesus and to be doers of his word and not hearers only. This welcome extends to persons of every age, gender, race, national origin, faith background, marital status and family structure, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, mental and physical ability, economic and social status, and educational background, to share in the life, leadership, ministry, fellowship, worship, sacraments, responsibilities, blessings, challenges and joys of our church family.
Jesus teaches us to welcome all God’s children into God’s covenantal community. As we grow together in faith and love, we will strive to celebrate the diversity in which God has created us.
Contact information: Steve Rice, ONA chair, 802-451-9072; Pastor Joe Amico, 603-852-3168; Emily Daigle, Administrative Assistant, 802-254-9767.
Pastor Joe Amico
West Brattleboro, Sept. 19
Editor of the Reformer:
Seventy-five years ago, to the south of us, my brother and I would scramble to see who could get to the Sunday paper first, not because one section was in color, but because that’s where the funnies were.
Later that day at my grandparents’ house, the Herald-Tribune would present different characters, but the same inviting appearance.
In contrast, my wife and I now find that your new layout for the weekend comics is replacing joy with tedium. Funnies aren’t supposed to be a chore. Even the added strips don’t warrant so much discombobulation.
Please help us. Simple pleasures do not need to be difficult.
Alan O. Dann
Marlboro, Sept. 25