Volume 33, Issue 11
Last week, Ethics Daily published an outstanding article on LGBTQ+ inclusion, written by our very own Rev. Dr. Michael Gregg. Pastor Mike explored something that many of us who identify as queer have personally experienced far too often—many churches that claim to be “welcoming and affirming” often welcome us while refusing to affirm us.
The word affirm means to “state as fact; assert strongly and publicly.” Many congregations are content in allowing LGBTQ+ people to participate in the life of the church but are uncomfortable with making that fact known too publicly. I often refer to these churches as “welcoming but not yet affirming.” They are on the right track, but there is still more work to be done. Participation in a Pride parade or festival is often an important step towards affirmation—both for the congregation and for the local LGBTQ+ community.
Sadly, LGBTQ+ people are routinely excluded from communities of faith and pushed to the margins of society by harmful theologies. These theologies have proven to have deadly consequences, as they are a major contributing factor to high suicide rates, spikes in LGBTQ+ youth homelessness, and violence against the transgender community. That is why it is vitally important for places of worship—especially those with “Baptist” in their name—to be open and public about their support for full inclusion of queer people.
By our presence at the Dallas Pride Festival, we proclaimed proudly and publicly that no matter who you are or whom you love, you are not only welcome here at Royal Lane Baptist Church—you are also affirmed! This message resonated with many folks who stopped to speak with us at our two booths at Pride this year. Dozens of transgender, lesbian, and gay teens and their parents engaged us in conversation. Several parents of those teens asked us, “is this really a safe church for my child?” Many people were shocked to find a Baptist church at Pride and thanked us for our public show of support for their community. And as a direct result of those interactions, several people trusted us enough to join us in worship the very next day.
Becoming a “welcoming and affirming” congregation is not a moment in time marked by a church vote and a change in church polity—it is a perpetual process. Over the past four years, I have been proud to witness Royal Lane Baptist Church’s continued transformation as it moves further towards full inclusion. This year’s participation in the Dallas Pride Festival marks an important milestone in that process of becoming a “welcoming and affirming” congregation.
This Wednesday evening, June 12, you will have an opportunity to hear some of our stories from Pride, to see photos of the festival, and to hear directly from several LGBTQ+ members of our congregation what Royal Lane Baptist Church means to them. I hope you will join us for this important In Focus conversation hosted by the Education Committee following our Wednesday evening supper.
Rev. Tim Schaefer,
Minister to Youth