Stone Church – A Welcoming, Affirming Congregation
Beginning in 2007 the Session of Stone Church undertook a study of the theological, historical and personal perspectives related to the inclusion of gay, lesbian and transgendered persons. We watched an award winning film called The Bible Tells Me So, dealing with the devastation of gay and lesbian persons who were shunned or excluded by their churches.
We looked at the path that the Presbyterian Church (USA) has taken to its current position, a position that still excludes lesbians and gays from ordination as Ministers, Elders and Deacons and forbids pastors from officiating in samesex union ceremonies. We have seen that, although the church is split, there seems to be something approaching parity on the part of those for and those against, with the gay rights wing increasing in numbers.
Increasingly, science is providing evidence that same-sex orientation is not “learned” but inborn. The reality appears to be across all species in creation. In addition, biblical scholarship has revisited the handful of biblical passages thought to deal (all of them cursorily) with the subject. A more nuanced understanding of many of these texts reveals them not be as clearly anti-homosexuality as was once thought. For many progressive Christians today, a re-evaluation of the traditional view of homosexuality is overdue.
When viewed as a justice issue, the question becomes not so much a matter of the morality of particular sexual activities, but of the rights and dignity of people who have been marginalized, brutalized, stigmatized and discriminated against. Not waiting for this “catch up” of justice at the denominational level, the Session voted to become a “welcoming and affirming” congregation, that is, to go on record as affirming the full rights of gay, lesbian, transgendered persons and welcoming them into our community of faith. The rainbow flag displayed on our exterior marquee and on our printed bulletin is a symbol of this openness.