Sunday, May 27, 2012

The values of our founder

This article has been sitting in my browser for about six weeks (that's from before I went to General Conference. It brings to mind the poll that found the word most used by those outside the church to describe Christianity is "anti-gay." Too many mainline churches try to say, "We're not like that," though their message gets drowned out by the Fundies.

St. James in the City is an Episcopal Church in Los Angeles. In an area of churches with shrinking membership, St. James is growing. One of its members describes it this way:
At our church, it is not unusual to see children with two mums or two dads, sitting next to Koreans, African-Americans, Hispanics, as well as many white middle-class families. There are monied people from Beverly Hills, rubbing shoulders with artists from downtown. Gay people next to straight. It’s jolly, social and somehow has a relevance to everyone’s life. It reflects an acceptance of all, the kind of value I’d like my children to have. And it is a community. Spirituality, I believe, comes from acknowledging that we are part of something greater than just ourselves.
Timothy Kincaid of Box Turtle Bulletin concludes by saying:
I think it is long passed the time when Mainline Christianity [should] stand and say, “We have strong values including inclusion, relevance, flexibility, and especially love for our fellow man. Our values predate whatever those others are selling and were, in fact, the values of our founder”.

Mainline Christianity deserves a better position that “the Christians who don’t hate you”. What they have to offer is a much needed commodity. It’s not just what they don’t give – it’s what they do give: values, the kind you wants your kids to have.
And the United Methodist Church missed its chance of saying that.

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