News from AllianceQ: November 2019
"I'm going to start to cry": A Story of Welcome
*contributed by Rev. James Brewer-Calvert, Senior Pastor First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Decatur, Georgia
We are richly, deeply blessed to be given a few minutes to make a world of difference, and sometimes that’s all we get. So let’s use every second to drive home our passion, our creativity and resourcefulness, our love for humanity, our hope that there are others, thousands and millions of others who care and want to make a world of difference as well.
At the Atlanta Pride Festival, we shared a booth in Piedmont Park with two other Open and Affirming Disciples churches. Dozens of Disciples from our congregations signed up to meet and greet our LGBTQ+ neighbors, to hand out brochures, offer real smiles, and invite folks to worship.
To be honest, I had some fear and trembling going in. I imagined the reception from those who have been shamed and shunned by the Church might be a curt, “Thanks but no thanks.”
I was so wrong.
I participated in the first few hours of the festival. We gave out hundreds of rainbow heart stickers, one at a time. We handed to people a brochure listing the three Open & Affirming churches in Atlanta.
To my surprise and joy, my personal encounters and open invitations were received with curiosity, gratitude, delight, and even a tear.
Two young adult women in matching t-shirts holding hands accepted the stickers, read the brochure, and listened to this modeler of Jesus Christ say that God loves them as they are, that love always wins, that all means all. “It’s only 10 AM,” one said, “and I’m going to start to cry.”
Do you have a “story of welcome” that illustrates how you have found welcome and belonging? How did a person or congregation extend its welcome and how can others help widen the welcome?
How can churches work to replace stories of unwelcome with stories of welcome?