by Sue Kinzer
I became involved in thinking about Reconciliation when a Reconciling Ministries Network staff member responded on Facebook to a comment I had made, and to my concern about finding a church community in the West Palm Beach, FL area. Prior to that, during a trip to Idaho, I attended a Reconciliation Methodist church in Boise. The pastor and the church community were so welcoming and obviously inclusive in thought, word, and deed! I was kind of in shock....this to me was how a church should be. This was what Jesus talked about. This church matched my belief that our God is a loving God. It's culture exemplified the teachings of Jesus in practice.
Returning to Florida, I searched for a church that felt like what I had experienced. Though currently a Presbyterian, I became convinced that the RMN foundational beliefs were more closely attuned to my lifelong beliefs about how church should be. So I focused my search on nearby United Methodist churches. While there are no identified Reconciling congregations in my part of Palm Beach, there are some that are very welcoming and open to all...I am attending one such church now.
While I understand the political and traditional concerns about the Book of Discipline as the rule of law, my mission through Reconciling Ministries Network is to find individuals and groups within churches who believe as I do that ALL people are welcome as active participants in church ministries; and that LGBTQ persons are the same in Gods eyes as anyone else. Anything else is just not what Jesus taught us, and is not fair or just. After all the Book of Discipline is a man-made document.
The Hillview Methodist church in Boise, Idaho is my inspiration after many years of searching. On the front of all their literature the following statement appears:
We are a Reconciling Congregation, welcoming all persons into full participation in the life of the congregation regardless of age, sexual orientation, gender identity, family configuration, racial or ethnic background, economic status, or mental and physical disabilities. As we journey to the reconciliation of all persons as children of God, we celebrate our human families diversity.
Hopefully soon some of our Florida Conference churches will take that leap and be that bold! It's the right thing to do.
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Having been an educator for nearly 50 years, Sue Kinzer work life has focused on the goals of equality, fairness, and justice for all students and educators. As a teacher, college professor, administrator, facilitator, and consultant in curriculum development, evaluation, leadership, and organizational development that mission guided her activities. Now retired, she is refocused on spiritual life and the church among other things. At different times in my life, she has been Lutheran, nothing, and later Presbyterian. Now my mission is to work within the Methodist community on Reconciliation focusing on lifelong goals and beliefs around social justice, fairness, and equality. My wondering...is it possible for organized religion to put those espoused beliefs into practice?