Welcome home! We are delighted you are here. In your worship bulletin is our Welcome Statement. Listen carefully, faithfully as I read it aloud.
First Christian Church of Decatur (Disciples of Christ) is an open and affirming congregation. We welcome everyone into full participation in the life and membership of the church.
Inspired and informed by God’s love, mercy, and justice, we are purposefully involved in healing and helping our community and our world. We covenant with God and the greater community to nurture a spirit of love and service to neighbors, honor one another’s differences, and fellowship in the breaking of bread.
Actively striving to honor each other’s race, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, nationality, ethnicity, marital status, physical or mental ability, family configuration, political affiliation, economic circumstance, or theological perspective, we truly do welcome all.
In your hand and now in your memory bank is something precious: You now possess a communal covenant that we crafted over the course of almost two years of prayerful, playful, purposeful work, together. We did so in dialogue with God and one another, and then we asked for God’s blessings, and then we shared it with the whole wide world.
Our Welcome Statement is a reminder that the Church of Jesus Christ is bigger than this significant congregation. Before us is a living testament that declares that we refuse to succumb to cultural temptations to devolve into cliques or tribes made up of Us versus Them. We testify in print and aloud that we’re intentionally creating the Beloved Community on earth as it is in Heaven. Ministry is meaningful, messy, and muddy; yet here we are, diving in together.
Most every Sunday in the context of worship we share aloud our Welcome Statement. It’s shared aloud weekly because change happens. You and I are not the same people we were in the last decade, or last year, or maybe even last Sunday. Thanks to the grace of God, we evolve, grow, and change, whether subtly and gradually or dramatically, being born again from above, again and again.
And because of the New Being you are becoming, you may find yourself in different places and definitions and transitions than before. No matter where you find yourself today, right now, hopefully you’ll find yourself lifted up by knowing that you belong. Trust that in your resurrected New Self, you are welcome in God’s home and people.
Our Welcome Statement is an opportunity to pray. As we read this aloud, we pray. We pray for those who are experiencing such a greeting for the first time, and for those hearing it for the 100th time. We pray that those of us who may not be able to see as well, or have not learned to read, or the letters on the page swim and dance and refuse to be in focus, may be able to hear such hospitality.
We lift up a prayer of hope, hoping that at least one soul, one child of God, one neighbor in need will hear these words of welcome and know — he or she or they will know! — that they are loved. God loves you, and we do, too.
And we pray for the Church Universal. This is a Welcome Statement that testifies to the One True Church of Jesus Christ about who we are, whose we are, and is our collective prayer for the world. May all the world search for safe places and sacred spaces, and be found and loved, just as they are.
Senior Pastor of First Christian Church of Decatur, Ga., since 1998 and the published author of numerous articles, liturgical resources, op-ed pieces, narrative essays and sermons in journals, newspapers and magazines, Rev. James L. Brewer-Calvert has also served served churches in East Harlem, N.Y., Dallas, Texas, and Jackson, Tenn. Married to Rev. Betty Brewer-Calvert, with whom he has two adult children, he is delighted to arise every morning to work and play among the whole people of God.