Inclusion and Welcome: Resources with a significant focus on inclusion and welcome.

A Whosoever Church: Welcoming Lesbians and Gay Men into African American Congregations

Gary David Comstock, 2001 (format: Book)

Comstock interviews African American religious leaders from a variety of denominations in a conversation concerned with the church as a welcoming community and addressing how to welcome lesbians and gay men into African American congregations.

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Inclusion: Making Room for Grace

Eric Law, 2000 (format: Book)

Published by Chalice Press, Inclusion is a practical and theologically based guide in responding to diversity. The author is careful to understand that the impulse to exclude is very human and very understandable, yet the Christ who was accused of spending too much time eating with sinners calls us to expand our welcome.

Rev. Law explains with theological clarity how our safe sense of community is continuously challenged from the outside and describes with practical insight how Christian communities can respond to these challenges patiently and carefully with an eye to the scriptural mandate to welcome and include.

Inclusion provides a simple language and framework for understanding what is happening when we exclude and how we can include, thus providing a simple but insight filled guide for making practical and sound choices when confronted with diversity and challenged to include.

This is not a book about LGBT inclusion, it’s a book about Christian inclusion; a must read for all who seek guidance on building an ever more inclusive Christian church.

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Justice Calls: Sermons of Welcome and Affirmation

Phil Snider, 2016 (format: book)

In Justice Calls, Disciples Pastor Phil Snider collects sermons that add compelling clarity to the growing chorus of Christian voices that are passionate about LGBTQ justice and equality–not in spite of their faith but precisely because of it.

With a combination of pastoral sensitivity, scholarly insight, and courageous vision, these sermons are a must-read not only for LGBTQ people longing to know they don’t have to deny their religious convictions in order to embrace their sexuality and/or gender identity, but also for people of faith who wonder if they have to disregard the Bible in order to fully accept their LGBTQ neighbors, friends, and family members.

Justice Calls includes sermons and essays from many well known Disciples pastors and scholars: Rita Nakashima Brock, Derek Penwell, Sandhya Rani Jha, Christian Piatt, Glen Miles, and a host of other excellent writers.

This volume is an ideal resource for small groups, Sunday school classes, preachers, church leaders, and all people everywhere who are interested in recognizing how the rich resources in the Bible can be cultivated in order to celebrate–rather than condemn–LGBTQ friends and neighbors.

Starting with the call for equality and ending with a call for the transformation of the church, this volume walks the journey of God’s affirming love for all with both care and courage.

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Qu(e)erying Evangelism: Growing a Community From the Outside In

Cheri DiNovo, 2005 (format: book)

The book chronicles DiNovo’s own attempts as a minister to expand the membership of a rapidly shrinking congregation in a poor, inner city Toronto neighborhood. As a result, DiNovo discovers that, in her congregation’s decision to evangelize among the marginalized and “queer” in their neighborhood, church members are radically changed. Qu(e)erying Evangelism answers the following questions: How do we understand evangelism biblically and in a completely new way? How does one be a queer theologian in a traditional pastorate and not only be faithful to a queer Christ but grow a congregation with all sorts of differences of opinion? How does the presence of the transgendered/transsexual-or indeed everyone perceived as different-challenge both the theology and praxis of a mainline denomination?

From the first chapter:

Like other colleagues in inner-city inclusive ministry, I wanted to try all the techniques of church growth that emanated from places like Willow Creek Church in Chicago. Surprisingly, I discovered that not only did the techniques not transfer effectively to our inner-city, queer-positive context, but that they were predicated on a vacuous theology with more in common with colonialism than with scriptural conversion. Clergy and laity who felt like failures because their churches did not grow numerically, and who feared the death of an inclusive Christianity that plagued them, became another group needing evangelism. How to speak faith to them? How to speak faith to ourselves?

That attendance at our evening or morning service grew ceased to be for me the primary question of my or our evangelical ministry. My own struggle with the discipline of being Christian became and is still focused on ignoring those very numbers. To read anything into the numbers that join or attend our church except our ability to be hospitable, I consider a temptation. Our struggle is to be faithful, to be hospitable, to be nonjudgmental. As we succeed in that, we are caught up in evangelism, we are getting out of the way of the Holy Spirit. For us, what is much more significant than the numbers attending is that the queerest among us feel welcomed, and that we can allow ourselves to show our own queerness.

Qu(e)erying Evangelism can be read online here or bought at the link above.

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Queer Virtue: What LGBTQ People Know About Life and Love and How It Can Revitalize Christianity

Elizabeth Edman, 2017 (format: book)

Arguing from the heart of scripture, the author reveals how queering Christianity—that is, disrupting simplistic ways of thinking about self and other—can illuminate contemporary Christian faith. Pushing well past the notion that “Christian love = tolerance,” Edman offers a bold alternative: the recognition that queer people can help Christians better understand their fundamental calling and the creation of sacred space where LGBTQ Christians are seen as gifts to the church.

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Radical Welcome: Embracing God, the Other and the Spirit of Transformation

Stephanie Spellers, 2006 (format: Book)

A practical theological guide for congregations that want to move beyond mere inclusivity toward becoming a place where welcoming “the other” is taken seriously and engaging God’s mission becomes more than just a catch-phrase.

Read the review of Radical Welcome published in Crossbeams.

Don’t miss the resources available online. Click here for study guides and tools for reflection, assessment, and implementing Radical Welcome.

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Where The Edge Gathers: Building A Community Of Radical Inclusion

Yvette A. Flunder, 2005 (format: Book)

Flunder explains why the church is called to show the radically inclusive love of Jesus Christ to people on the margin and to move beyond affirmation and inclusion to accountability and responsibility.

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