Documenting Your Faithful Journey
How did your congregation become an inclusive, faith community? Is someone in your church collecting the stories and oral histories from your journey to inclusion? The Coalition's communications committee invites our partner congregations and affiliates to preserve and publish the stories of their own path to inclusive ministry.
Nearly all of our partner congregations have stories about how they became welcoming houses of prayer for all people. For most, the path toward inclusion meant defying their denominational rules and inviting condemnation and insults from respectable people. None of our partners started this journey without discussion, prayer, or soul searching.
A Personal Appeal
As a gay man, I am blessed each time anyone breaks from the centuries of social, religious, and legal dogma and damnation against people like me. When an organized religious group takes a public stand against centuries of hateful traditions and welcomes me, affirms me, and even tells me I am God's own, I am more than blessed. I am given new life.
Time may fade the stories of regular people of faith questioning what they'd been taught and of congregations risking their very existence to act on the unconditional love they preached and sang. I fear that someday the radical faithfulness of those individuals and congregations who dared to welcome me home may be forgotten or at best condensed into a passionless, academic footnote.
I urge each of our partner congregations and affiliates to begin collecting photographs, archiving documents, and interviewing your community's elders on video to preserve their oral histories. Now is the time to ensure that future generations in your communities of faith can know and be strengthened by your unique journey to inclusive ministries. Please don't allow this wonderful part of your church's history to be forgotten. I strongly encourage you to share your community's faith journey as widely as you can.
Those of us on the coalition's Communications Committee would also like to invite you to share your relevant photos and videos with us. We have a long-range dream of producing a video that celebrates the faithful journey of regular people with eyes, minds, and hearts open to the stirring of the God's Spirit. At the very least, we'd like to use some of your historic photos and videos to brighten up your congregation's page here on the CCWC website.
I further believe that stories of the faithful struggle to embody the divine love all Christians preach and sing about would be encouraging to persons and congregations just beginning their own faithful journeys.
Even more importantly, publishing your faith journey might function as a new form of evangelism. All around us are persons who despair of ever finding the kind of home your church strives to be. These hungry, thirsty, lonely, and tired neighbors hear and believe the louder voices in our culture declaring that there is no welcome and no home for persons like them. Your history may become the word of grace they crave.
Rev. Dr. Stu Smith