welcome & inclusion
How do you build a welcoming congregation?
“Building an Inclusive Church, A Welcoming Toolkit” is available on-line for download from the Institute for Welcoming Resources. The Toolkit is a step-by-step guide to help facilitate a Welcoming Process in your local congregation.
“LGBT Inclusion” from the interfaith Religious Institute offer resources for clergy, study guides for congregants, research reports, a reference center and links to excellent denominational and secular resources.
“Acting Out Loud” from the Religious Institute “provides clergy and religious leaders with background on LGBT people, points you to the best-available online resources, and offers ideas and approaches recommended by leading clergy, theologian and advocates across the country.”
Born Gay, Rev. Dr. Selma Massey
Adopting a Statement of Welcome, One Church's Journey
First United Methodist Church of Ann Arbor (FUMC) adopted a statement of welcome to all persons and specifically to the GLBT community. The 1300 member church adopted the statement by a margin of 9 to 1 at the Church Conference on January 7, 2007. The following statement had been approved and forwarded by the FUMC Leadership Council in November 2006.
As congregants of the First United Methodist Church of Ann Arbor, we welcome and affirm all persons. We are intentional in being inclusive of those of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender orientations, all genders, ethnicities, nationalities, and abilities. In modeling the ministry of Jesus Christ, we shall all journey together into full participation in the life of the United Methodist Church and a closer relationship with God.
A concerted effort to embrace inclusivity began in January 2005 with the formation of a group called Rainbow Crossing. This grassroots FUMC group committed itself to working for the inclusion of all, to working within the church and broader community, and to respecting and listening to all viewpoints regarding homosexuality. Among the efforts to raise awareness within the congregation were signed statements in the bulletin, wearing rainbow crosses and ribbons to show visual support, small group discussions, and a column of questions and answers called Rainbow Crossing Speaks …that appeared in the bulletin over eight weeks followed by posters and brochures with the same information.
Senior pastor Rev. J. Douglas Paterson led several weeks of Bible study, and a series of classes on the meaning of becoming a reconciling congregation. His sermon titled “Welcoming Through the Heart of Christ” was pivotal in creating a positive tone for discussion on our journey to inclusivity. In addition to the support of the FUMC pastors and administrative staff, we have been privileged to have the wise counsel of retired UMC Bishop Jesse DeWitt.
FUMC is both pleased and humbled to become a reconciling congregation, a significant step on our journey to become open and welcoming to all. We join as a reconciling body the Wesley Foundation at the University of Michigan, Methodism’s first campus ministry in the Americas and a reconciling ministry since 1996. Its ministry is closely intertwined with FUMC, sharing facilities and staff support.