All are welcome. These three words are powerful, at least, when they are backed up by actions. These three words drew me to the Disciples of Christ (Christian Church) denomination many years ago. When I was left feeling isolated by the Catholic Church due to my gender, my sexual orientation, and my age, I found welcome at a Disciples of Christ congregation. Everyone was welcome at the table, which meant I could bring all my friends and they could partake in communion. I heard “all are welcome” preached from the pulpit and the pews.
Then, I began to find the discrepancies. Non-white members were left to feel isolated, same-sex couples were forced to hide who they were and refused access to church services. All were not welcome it seemed.
After my former partner and I were not allowed to be married at the church I had joined seeking welcome, I was disheartened. If even the denominations that preach welcome aren’t welcoming…where can the rejected go? What would Jesus, who practiced a most radical type on inclusion, have to say about this hypocritical exclusion?
It took me a long time to see that while the Holy Wisdom I have come to understand through Jesus is about divine inclusion, the church is run by humans. Just like it took me a while to forgive my home church and my denomination for its errors, it took my home church and my denomination a while to figure out the best way to live their creed.
A few days ago, the Disciples of Christ adopted this resolution on inclusion. It is a remarkable step in the right direction. There is still a long way to go, but as people of faith, people who believe in the wisdom of radical inclusion, we must strive to be living examples of these three powerful words–all are welcome.