Website Dedicated to Adventist Church Welcoming Statements Launches


(Spectrumbot) #1

A new website geared toward helping Seventh-day Adventist churches craft welcoming statements recently launched. Its goal is to give site visitors ���biblical inspiration for creating a welcoming statement, a list of actual welcoming statements, and tips for creating a welcoming statement for your church.���

The landing page of AdventistChurchWelcomingStatements.org states,

The Seventh-day Adventist Church has officially published many encouraging statements welcoming all people.

In practice, however, Adventist churches at times have been exclusive and repellent. We have closed doors to people who didn���t behave like us or think like us or look like us. We have cared more about being right than about being kind. We have confused acceptance with agreement. We have been too motivated by fear. We have turned away thirsty seekers of the free water of life.

Now is the time to be more intentional concerning the openness and warmth of our local church climates. As important as a mission or vision, a welcoming statement gives the church a face.���

Chris Blake, professor emeritus at Union College and one of the founders of the new initiative, recently sat down for an interview for the Mid-America Union���s podcast, ���The Advance��� to discuss the website and the importance of a welcoming statement.

Blake says a welcoming statement can help potential visitors tell whether this is the church for them. ���Am I welcomed here, or is this just an exclusive club?��� According to Blake, though welcoming statements have been around a long time, Adventist churches have not used them as widely or frequently as some other denominations.

There are currently 22 Adventist churches across the world listed on the site that have published welcoming statements. In order to be added to the list, churches are encouraged to submit their welcoming statements to site creators at OpenDialogueResources@gmail.com.

Alisa Williams is managing editor of SpectrumMagazine.org.

Image courtesy of adventistchurchwelcomingstatements.org.

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/8609

(ROBIN VANDERMOLEN) #2

The church I now attend, has the following WELCOMING STATEMENT
printed in EACH weekly worship bulletin, and on their website :

ALL ARE WELCOME TO PARTICIPATE IN THE FULL LIFE OF OUR CHURCH, INCLUDING:

ALL RACES
ALL AGES
ALL ABILITIES
ALL CLASSES,
ALL GENDER IDENTITIES
ALL SEXUAL ORIENTATIONS

This inclusive, compassionate and loving statement was initiated and voted upon by the full church membership, many years ago, and is regularly ratified and endorsed.

It was not imposed nor dictated by the pastoral staff, nor the conference administration…

More recently the word ABILITIES was added, so that handicapped people would not feel excluded .

This all encompassing welcome would rarely exist in an Adventist congregation. God forbid that gays/lesbians would feel welcomed !!

Needless to say, this UNITED METHODIST congregation, my current church home, offers a splendid role model to all Adventist congregations.

PLUS, it has a FULLY ORDAINED, senior woman pastor!

The Methodists have been ordaining their women pastors since 1956 !!

Response to Billman who asks:
Does your church also welcome troublemakers ??

Well, my senior woman pastor, whom the whole congregation adores, is a superb preacher, a splendid administrator and a very strong lady who would not tolerate troublemakers…

Two Adventist congregations I am acquainted with, have resorted to getting a restraining order from the local police department to prevent a troublemaker from accessing the church campus!

Response to PLBDEL3
I left Adventism not merely because of its abject and abysmal absence of inclusivity, biut for its woeful war on women.

I am male, but my deceased wife was a physician, and my three daughters are professionals.

The festering WO issue broadcasts a bitter, bilious brush off that blacklists female members as being “less than”, and therefore not worthy to PARTICIPATE IN THE FULL LIFE OF THE CHURCH (see my current congregation’s welcoming statement above )

RESPONSE TO CHRIS BLAKE:

You state:
THE OFFICIAL SDA STANCE IS TO WELCOME ALL PEOPLE TO PARTICPATE IN CHURCH ACTIVITIES.

Sorry, Chris I have to disagree.

Most Adventist and ex Adventist gays/lesbians are in committed,monogamous LEGAL same sex marriages—Australia is now the latest and umpteenth country to legalize SSM.

These same sex couples are NOT accepted in “the official stance” ,
they are EXCORIATED.

Ted Wilson’s recent damning diatribes against homosexuality, plus the TOXIC transgender report from the BRI, not mention the notorious CAPE TOWN conference would emphatically endorse that the Adventist LGBT community is NOT welcome, at the GC level.

While the growing number of inclusive Adventist congregations are to be applauded, this hateful hierarchical homophobia does NOT send a welcoming message to our Adventist LGBT members.

Adventism continues to be TOXIC to LGBT’s.


(Billman) #3

The cynic in me doesn’t know what to say.

I think all adventist churches at their core want to be seen as welcoming, but from time to time their ideologies get in the way. There are very few churches that can genuinely make all people feel welcome. People who turn up who appear to be “different” almost always find it difficult to be accepted.

@ezbord - does your church also welcome All Troublemakers. If so, how does your church make it work?

@ezbord - reason for my query is that along the way, we have removed a troublemaker, and as the church is one that at its core is very accepting of people, there appears to me to be a tension between being accepting, and not rejecting some who in their own way are needy of help. And yet the troublemakers have the ability to destroy the tenor of the church. To create an accepting church, one cannot always accept all people.


#4

WOW!! That welcoming statement almost sounds like the “whosoever” (abusers, bullies, discriminators, robbers, rapists, spouse beaters, etc.) of John 3:16.
In true to life terms, what REALLY matters is, I assume, are we actually ‘walking the talk’. Whatever the case, blessings to that United Methodist church.
P.S. Relevant question, bill1. You might be referring to Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD).


(Johnny Carson) #5

Absolutely, spot on true. Yes, there are shining islands of sanity out there, both corporately and individually, but I’ve watched this play out time after time after god forsaken time over the years in the various congregations where my membership has been held.

Bravo to your congregation. When I read that I immediately know there was no way it could be and SDA congregation. Would. Not. Happen. At the very least there would be a watered down statement that sorta said that if you read between the lined but in actuality gave the various factions within the congregation a lot of wiggle room.

Ideology at the expense of the individual is nothing more than idolatry.

It’s been my experience that the biggest offenders when it comes to troublemaking are the “old guard”, the long established member who has a larger than life ownership of the congregation, it’s policies, and it’s practices.


(Randle Patrick) #7

Donkey’s will fly before “Welcoming Statements” flood mail boxes instead of “Amazing Facts”, “Revelation Seminars”, etc free invitation postcards.

The DNA of SdA is “Exclusive Remnant” not “Inclusive Remnant”.


(Peter) #8

It took the Methodist church many years of struggle to get to this point. And don’t forget that, even in Southern California, there are sizable Methodist churches that are NOT welcoming. If the Methodists who helped bring their churches to this point had walked away and found a comfortable church to attend, there might not be Methodist churches like the one you are attending now. It seems sad that you appear to have left an Adventist church that has struggled for years to be welcoming, at a time when other Adventist congregations are trying to follow a similar path.


(Chris Blake24) #10

I always find it fascinating to read comments that decry exclusivity and then disparage efforts to combat it.

The welcoming statements of many churches on the website (e.g. Hollywood, Glendale City, Florida Hospital) are every bit as inclusive as the Methodist statement Robin references. All you have to do is read.

Moreover, the official Seventh-day Adventist Church stance is to welcome all people–everyone–to participate in church activities. Many local Adventist churches lag behind the corporate administrative welcoming statements.

Yet local Adventist churches are all self-determining. Each church decides its climate, members, and leaders. That’s where the godly battles begin, not at the GC.

Hey, I just thought of a term we could use to refer to Adventist churches that welcome people of every race, appearance, belief system, sexual orientation, nation, gender, economic level, age, and ability (as the website states).

Let’s call these inclusive, loving, grace-filled churches the Remnant.


(Sam Geli) #11

I’d like to find a church welcoming statement that invites the public to ask real questions and promises an honest search for answers. I’d like to read carefully in a church opening statement about the longing and passionate desire that the people have for truth. And finally, I’d like to find a welcoming statement that resonates with hope and love for God.


(Chris Blake24) #12

Please read the Tierrasanta statement, Sam.


(Steve Mga) #13

It is one thing for a Congregation to compose a wonderfully worded, wonderfully crafted
Welcoming Statement.
It is quite another thing for a Congregation [and ESPECIALLY the Pastor at the time]
to ACTUALLY be welcoming and accepting of whoever walks through the doors.

It has been my experience that it is the Pastor who determines who will be welcomed and
accepted by the congregation. And the Congregations ALLOWS the Pastor to interpret
their Welcoming Statement on individual basis.
The Scriptures tell us “Whosoever will may com”. BUT in college and Seminary Pastors
are taught to be selective, to be seclusive, and REJECT the "Whosoever will may come"t
mantra of the Bible.
They are taught that the GOAL of the True Church is to be Pure. The two do NOT go
together is what is taught by precept, by example.


(Chris Blake24) #15

Robin,

I’ll stick with my original supposition: Officially, according to numerous documents (cf. the AdventistChurchWelcomingStatements.org website), Adventists are supposed to graciously welcome everyone, including married LGBT+ partners, to participate in church activities.

As a side note, the United Methodist Church has been embroiled in its own controversy over gay marriage for decades and a church split may be imminent. My Methodist friends tell me the “overseas” parts of their world church–particularly the continents of Africa and Asia–are resisting any calls to endorse a more progressive stance. Does the following sound familiar?

From a May 18, 2016 The New York Times article by Laurie Goodstein:

"After 44 years of debating sexuality issues, the United Methodist Church voted by a narrow margin on Wednesday to allow bishops to appoint a commission to re-evaluate rules on gay, lesbian and transgender clergy and marriage.

"The 428-to-405 vote by the delegates to the church’s quadrennial conference in Portland, Ore., was seen by many as a last-ditch effort to save the church from schism.

"It was celebrated by L.G.B.T. Methodists and their supporters as a way to buy time and avoid church discipline against more than 100 clergy and clergy candidates who came out as gay in advance of the conference. But it disappointed many conservatives who were exasperated that their church is still arguing over what they see as clear church teachings that prohibit openly gay and transgender clergy, and same-sex marriage.

“The church’s Book of Discipline, its governing document, says that the ‘practice of homosexuality’ is ‘incompatible with Christian teaching.’”

I’m glad you found a local welcoming church.


(Johnny Carson) #16

Chris, don’t get me wrong, I applaud this initiative and the efforts of those congregations who are designing these statements. For my part, I don’t think it’s so much disparaging as it is a healthy dose of skepticism based on experience.

I’ve found that the official denominational statement you speak of, nice as it is, is simply not a representation of the unofficial position taken by some of those who crafted it. And yes, I’ve been privy to some of those behind-the-scenes conversations and offhand remarks.

I’ve also found that the most inclusive and welcoming statement a congregation might have is still only a statement, but where the rubber meets the road there always seem to be caveats. People who are too different are still made to feel unwelcome. Yes, I’m sure part of that is their own awareness that they ARE different, but not all of it by any means.

So what’s the answer? Should this effort itself be marginalized and die on the vine? Absolutely not. It should continue with even greater fervor and sincerity. The only way to make a snowman is to roll the little ball around in the snow so that it gathers greater and greater mass. Same thing applies here, I think.


(Randle Patrick) #17

If a SdA church had a welcoming reputation in its community a welcoming statement would be superfluous.


(James Peterson) #18

… the operative word being “help”.

FYI

The Top Ten Reasons people pick a specific church to join (from a survey by Barna Research [and] similar survey results in almost the same order done by Gallup, and other church organizations):

  1. The theological beliefs and doctrine of the church.
  2. The people seem to care about each other.
  3. The quality of the sermons that are preached.
  4. How friendly the people are to visitors.
  5. How involved the church is in helping poor and disadvantaged people.
  6. The quality of the programs and classes for children.
  7. How much you like the pastor.
  8. The denomination the church is affiliated with.
  9. The quality of the adult Sunday School classes.
  10. The convenience of the times of their weekend.

Source: Sunday Resources

In my own experience, No.2 leads to No.1 like constant dripping that wears away the stone; and there is no greater evidence for this that I could present than:

  1. the personal testimony of Dr. Olive Hemmings, in all its confounding irony; and
  2. the strange embrace of J. Dana Trent.

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