INCLUSIVE IN LOVE
Reba Place Church Policy Regarding Same-Sex Covenanted Relationships / Marriage and the Welcome of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender or Queer Individuals at Reba Place Church
In September, 2017, the congregation of Reba Place Church began a dialogue and discernment process around the question: How can the response of Reba Place Church (RPC) to the presence of same-sex attraction in ourselves and others best reflect God’s Good News as proclaimed by Jesus? On this journey together, we met in various ways to listen to one another and the Holy Spirit, pray and reason together, and study scripture as well as other relevant resources (see Acts 15 for the example of the Jerusalem Council). A map of our timeline can be found here.
We answer the question as best we can, knowing that there are varying views, convictions, and interpretations among us. In light of our agreements and differences, we find that we can best reflect God’s Good News as proclaimed by Jesus in pursuing the call to love: we love one another as members of RPC; we love all those who feel called to worship among us; we love all of God’s creations equally, as Jesus taught and embodied. We confess and lament that the Christian Church's history in relating to the LGBTQ community has caused pain and trauma; the relationship has been marked by hate and division. We repent and seek to end our complicity in this marginalization and oppression by committing to a stance of love.
To love one another amidst our differences is not easy, but this counter-cultural witness is essential for us, and desperately needed in the world. Though time-consuming and messy, this task is a necessary building block for Christian community. Therefore, in the midst of the challenges, we work to embody Jesus together, as honestly as we can: supporting one another in the developing of our convictions and understandings, challenging one another in love, and seeking to understand one another beyond cultural, social, political, and even theological differences.
We affirm that each follower of Jesus must “work out their own salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12). We respect individual moral sense and encourage ongoing reflection for each member of our body. With humility we resist the impulse to impose our moral insights on our brothers and sisters. Where we differ, we commit to cling to the love of Christ, holding us together, rather than the convictions which may drive us apart, knowing that the love we show one another is our greatest witness (John 13:35) and the unity to which we commit is the answer to Christ’s prayer for us (John 17:20-23).
In affirming the policy statement below, we will each live into the realities expressed with integrity and belonging. For some, the focus of affirmation stems from efforts to seek and live out the Bible's priority of justice for the marginalized (Isaiah 56, Amos 5; Deuteronomy 12:17-19). For others, the focus of affirmation comes from a sacrificial commitment to the unity of this part of the body of Christ, perhaps
noting a parallel in Jesus' statement that Moses made allowances for how divorce should be handled in order to make the best of a broken situation (Matthew 19:3-12).
Jesus came to fulfill the intent of the law: to demonstrate a way of life which seeks God's intentions for creation, including the reconciliation of all of humanity to God. We embrace this as our work of discipleship - pressing into being living members of the body of Christ at Reba Place Church.
We are united in our call to follow Jesus, to seek the direction of God’s Spirit among us, and to love and respond to all humanity as created in the image of God. Other statements that help articulate our common identity include our vision statement and our membership affirmations.
In summary, we believe our loving relationships centered on what we have in common are bigger than our differences and strong enough to create a joyful community that bears a uniquely beautiful witness for the Gospel.
At Reba Place Church, we are welcoming of everybody who is interested in learning about the way of Jesus.
We commit to consider all people for membership and service within the church regardless of sexual orientation.
We commit to fill roles of leadership and service with discernment that is based on one’s personal and spiritual gifting, maturity and suitability for the ministries under consideration without regard to sexual orientation.
At Reba Place Church, we celebrate the joining of two adults in the loving, lifelong commitment of marriage or covenant union. We commit to respect the personal convictions of individual leaders and members in discerning whether to participate in any particular celebration.
We also celebrate other commitments of love through vows of friendship or celibacy.
This policy does not seek to change our acceptance of the Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective except in its definition and limiting of marriage to “one man and one woman for life.” To that definition, we are adding our recognition of marriages/unions between any two adults, and assuming the same intentions of lifelong fidelity within the union and chastity without.
We commit to love and support all single people including those who have made a commitment to celibacy, those who are single by circumstance rather than by choice, those who are seeking a life partner and want to honor God in dating and those who wish to find a safe space to integrate their sexuality with following Jesus.