Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual or Transgendered?
The first thing you need to know is that you are welcome without reservation. No one will try to change you or persuade you that you will be more acceptable to God if you change. In fact, we believe that spiritual wholeness comes from being more fully what we are while living in loving, just and compassionate relationships with others.
We believe that Jesus taught a radical inclusiveness – that God’s people includes everyone. Jesus welcomed people of every kind to his table.
We believe that same gender relationships can be just as life-giving, just as blessed as opposite gender relationships and therefore we have chosen to expand our ministry to include the celebration marriage for committed, same sex couples (see our marriage policy).
How did we come to this place of acceptance and inclusion? Well, we think we have been a pretty open and inclusive congregation for a long time, but in 2002-2003 we went through a careful and intentional process of study and dialogue to discern whether we were called to publicly declare ourselves an Affirming Congregation.
What’s that, you ask? Affirm United is a national organization with the following stated purpose:
Affirm United is an organization of people of all sexual orientations and gender identities within The United Church of Canada. We work to provide the full inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people in the church and in society. We are a worshipping, pastoral, and prophetic community celebrating the biblical and theological liberation. We believe that all people are created in the image of God and are unconditionally loved by God.
In the end we did decide that it was time to reach out to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people by declaring ourselves anAffirming Congregation. Of course our welcome goes well beyond sexual minorities. The Statement of Faith that we developed as part of the process, alongside some of the other statements we have made over the years, expresses the scope of our intended inclusiveness:
We, the people of First United Church in Salmon Arm, are committed to creating a community where all people are welcome regardless of age, gender, race, sexual orientation, differing ability, ethnic backgrounds, socio-economic situation or any other characteristic or circumstance. We trust that God will continue to ensure that we share our faith and our gifts in language and worship, in the life and work of our church and wherever God calls us to do justice in the wider community.