At the corner of Kirkwood and Washington in Bloomington Indiana there is a church building. It is my church. In the scheme of things it has not been my church all that long, only about four years. FCC (aren’t most Disciples Churches called that?) is a gothic structure not unlike many old churches that are still around today. It is made of limestone, and the congregation had to recently make a choice to either dismantle and move elsewhere, or stay put and raise the nearly million dollars it will take to put the “old gal” back in pristine condition. We opted to stay put.
The location of FCC is significant because it is in the center of Bloomington, and when ever the IU alumni feel a need to protest, they do it at that location. There is always excitement outside our walls, and that excitement transcends itself inside our structure and in turn puts excitement into the souls of those who enter. We are an inner city church that try’s to take care of the homeless as well as minister to the university and to the community at large. Something was missing, though.
We have always been a loving congregation. Of course every church thinks of itself as loving, don’t they? And in most respects they are very loving. About three years ago, however, a group of people began to look at how we collectively feel about Gays. Committees were formed, sermons were preached and Sunday school classes discussed. It was about this time that my wife and I moved into the community and were once again looking for a church home.
Over our lifetime, we have had many churches we called “mine”. None had addressed the Gay concerns. Most even thought that the whole issue did not matter to them as it was not a major problem at my church. I confess that I was of that ilk until we became members of a Disciples church in Knoxville TN called First Christian Church of course. Knoxville was not O & A. As far as I know, it still isn’t. But, it was the struggle of the leadership trying to point out the un-loveliness of excluding the Gay community from our midst that began to enter my being. Of course, we didn’t really exclude them; we just didn’t want to talk about it. It was there, that we came out of the closet and became a straight advocate for our Gay friends. My wife and I had many Gay friends all our married lives, but we were of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” philosophy. And then we moved to Bloomington in southern Indiana and started looking for a Disciple’s Church.
We did not transfer our membership to Bloomington for about a year. And during that time the debate continued at First. And then some inspired soul at FCC came up with “An Invitation To Community”. Here it is:
And all that we hope to be
Is made more perfect
As the richness of varied lives
Meets the mystery of God’s unifying Spirit
And we become the Body of Christ.
There was to be a vote to accept this proclamation/poem as the backbone of our religious being. I wanted to make sure that we transferred our membership pronto so that we could make our selves present at that vote. In my mind, the vote was unnecessary as we all who profess to be Christians believe exactly that, don’t we? The vote would be unanimous.
While the vote was overwhelming in favor of accepting the invitation, there were still some that had a strong feeling that this was wrong.
It is exciting to live at the corner of Washington and Kirkwood. Easter Sunday is behind us and we are once again moving in this Eastertide journey on to new and great things. There will always be a cause…and this is not the end.