Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors. This is the sign that went up in front of SSUC on Thursday.
In an article written by Martin Thielen, a retired United Methodist minister and creator and author of doubtersparish.com, he tells a story of a couple who wanted to join his congregation because of the sign out front with this same message. They told him “we thought all churches were narrow-minded and judgmental. So, when we saw your sign, we decided to visit. When we discovered the church inside lived up to the sign outside, we wanted to become members.”
In honour of this story and many like it, our sign echoes the message that made a difference for that couple and for countless people who need something other than the active or passive rejection or judgement that they feel in many churches. The reality is that so many folks I talk to who have made their way to SSUC have had poor or traumatic experiences with church congregations of their past. And many others had written off participating in any religious/spiritual community because of the real and perceived reputations of what the rigidity or exclusion they may find there.
As a community that embraces an expansive view of life, spirituality, and the Jesus tradition, it’s important that we reflect a spirit of openness and inclusiveness in everything we do – every gathering, every teaching, every program. I reflect an adaptation of one of Progressive Christianity’s 8 guiding points:
4. Seek and create community that honours our common humanity, inclusive of ALL people, including but not limited to:
- Conventional Christians, questioning skeptics, agnostics, atheists, and persons of other faiths,
- Those of all races, cultures, and nationalities,
- Those of all sexual orientations and all gender identities,
- Those of all classes and abilities,
- Those historically or currently marginalized
This is not an easy path. In a culture that likes clean divisions between “us” and “them”, it is a harder road to include, to listen, to create community where all could feel welcome if they choose. But this is the way of our tradition, and we continue to try living it out expansively as a community.
My hope is that anyone visiting SSUC will notice that inside, we live up to the sign on the outside. Open hearts. Open minds. Open doors.