A Word from Us…

Below you will find thoughts, updates, and articles from our staff.

Deacons’ Openness Task Force On LGBTQ Christians and UBC Membership

This fall, the Deacons are sponsoring a five-week Congregational Conversation on UBC’s open membership statement in the Church Bylaws (“Any person may present himself or herself as a candidate for membership in this church….”, Bylaws, Article II:  Membership) as it may apply to gay persons.  Is this meant to include openly gay Christians or an openly gay person professing faith in Jesus Christ and seeking baptism and church membership?  The letters included below and the “Questions & Answers” document provide background to this upcoming process of discernment.   Additional documents will be added as they are published in other venues, such as The Word church newsletter.

Documents Regarding the Deacons’ Openness Task Force On LGBTQ Christians and UBC Membership: 

To facilitate the conversation, the Deacons are inviting the Sunday Bible Study classes to participate in a church-wide book study and series of individual class and congregational conversations. The Deacons and Openness Task Force have chosen Changing Our Mind by David Gushee and feel that this book is an accessible resource for discussing Biblical interpretations to many questions asked of the modern church.

Church-provided copies of the book will be available beginning Sunday, August 28. Each book will contain an envelope for your convenience should you want to reimburse part or all of the book price of $13.00; however, no reimbursement is required.  Audio CD’s of the book are available at no cost (featuring our own Jack Averill reading!).   Or you can purchase a Kindle version at Amazon.com.  Please contact a minister or your Sunday Bible Study teacher with any questions.

The conversation and discussion dates are as follows:
  • Sunday, September 18 – Church-wide breakfast at 8:45 am, followed by congregational conversation at 9:30 am
  • Sundays: September 25, October 2, and October 9 – Individual Sunday Bible Study discussions, 9:45 am
  • Sunday, October 16 – Church-wide congregational conversation, 9:45 am
  • Wednesday, October 19 – Second church-wide conversation, to provide members who could not attend the October 16 Sunday session a time
    to share their views, 6:15 pm
  • Sunday, October 23 – Called Church Conference to vote on next steps

Upcoming for Sunday, August 28

UBC Summer Choir


African / American / Spirituals

Featuring Contemporary Spirituals from Africa, traditional African/American Spirituals, and American hymnody in the style of the spirituals.

Spirituals - no text



A Bridge Across – August 23

A Bridge AcrossA Bridge Across-2i

An elderly woman, an old-school Presbyterian, took a tumble down her stairs at home one day.  She bounced and slid her way to the bottom landing.  There she gingerly got up, brushed herself off, looked heavenward, and said, “I’m certainly glad that’s over with!”

I am not a Predestinarian Baptist, so whether God foreordained University Baptist Church to consider at this moment in its history the question now upon us, I won’t answer.  The question now upon us is how UBC’s membership policy applies to openly gay persons, especially openly gay Christians.

How God works in the details of our lives may elude precise description, but this I can say without hesitation:  God expects us to be faithful stewards of the Gospel in the day and time in which we live.  A large majority of UBC’s Deacons discern that this congregation’s faithful stewardship means finding clarity about church membership and gay persons.  This is why they are sponsoring the five-week Congregational Conversation on this topic beginning Sunday, September 18, and concluding on Sunday, October 23, as recommended by their Openness Task Force.

Letters went out on June 6 and June 29 detailing the work of the Openness Task Force, which the Deacons appointed.  The June 6 mailing included a four-page “Questions & Answers” insert.  If you have access to the internet, you will find a link on our church web site to where you can read these documents.  If you prefer to receive paper copies, please contact Sue or Stephanie in the Church Office.

I became aware of the Openness Task Force’s work prior to being considered as a candidate for Senior Minister in the Interim.  As a candidate, and then in the early weeks of my interim ministry with you, I said to church leaders that my goal was to serve the congregation in addressing whatever they described to me as needing attending to in these transition months.

Knowing of the Task Force’s work, I expressed that if the Deacons thought it best to leave this conversation to the next Senior Minister’s discretion, I was fine with that.   Alternatively, if the Deacons believed it wiser to address this question during the interim, I was fine with that as well.  My commitment was and continues to be, to assist you in doing in the interim whatever needs doing in the best possible ways that I know how.  This continues to be my commitment as we approach this five-week conversation.

By October 23rd, we all may join the Presbyterian lady in lifting our eyes heavenward and saying, “I’m certainly glad that’s over with!”  Why?  Not because this will be a tumbling, slipping fall on our interim journey.  Not at all.  But it will be a challenge, won’t it?  No doubt about it.  It will be a challenge.  So please join me in making this your personal commitment, too:  I will help University Baptist Church do this in the best possible ways I know how.  I am confident that in this mutual agreement we will do fine

Your Senior Minister in the Interim,

~ Gary


A Bridge Across – August 9

ABridgeAcross180x148 A Bridge Across-2i

We’ve completed three months of this interim transition together, and we’re well into the fourth month.  So, how’s the bridge-building going?  Are we nearing the other side?  Are we almost there?

Not there, yet.  But, closer than we were when we started, with some definite progress at laying out the structure.  The Leadership Transition Team hosted two well-attended, well-participated-in, church conversations.  They retreated back into the bridge construction trailer to confer and consult for a while, but here they are at the door, about to come back out with their report on Wednesday, August 17.

That’s next week!  You’ll want to be there to hear what they have to say, to receive their recommendations and to vote your approval or not.  Assuming you approve what the LTT recommends, they will pass their work on to the Senior Minister Search Committee as that group’s essential ‘marching orders.’  Then, it will be the Senior Minister Search Committee’s turn in the bridge construction trailer.

The Senior Minister Search Committee will get about doing the next phase of the work that ultimately will lead us over to that nearing shore, as the “Bridge Across” motto states.  They’ll be writing the placement advertisement, deciding where to disseminate it, laying out the lines of communication, setting deadlines for resumés to come in . . . all guided by what you, the congregation, say by way of the LTT report that you’ll consider next Wednesday, August 17.  Please be at this so very important Church Conference, ready to hear, discuss, and vote.  Building on The Bridge!

Your Senior Minister in the Interim,

~ Gary



Important Safety Notice!


  • When you are in the building for something other than a group activity, please let someone in the Office (during office hours) know when you arrive and when you leave.
  • If someone you don’t know wants to enter the building, suggest that they go to the front entrance and check in with the Office.
  • When you arrive and leave, please MAKE SURE THE DOOR IS COMPLETELY CLOSED.
  • When you leave, TURN OFF THE LIGHTS!
  • PARENTS: Please pass this information along to your teenagers!!



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