A Word from Us…

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

Openness Task Force Congregational Conversations

Congregational Conversations

  • Wednesday, October 19, 6:15 pm: Church-wide Congregational Conversation   |

 

Called Church Conference to vote on next steps

  • Sunday, October 23, 12:15, Fellowship Hall (Light refreshments will be served.)

See Ballot, with Preamble and Instructions here.  Copies are available at the church.

 

Copies of Changing Our Mind by David Gushee are available.  A discussion guide with chapter summaries and discussion questions for the book is available on the UBC website at universitybaptist.org/discussionguide.

 A bibliography of additional resources is available at http://universitybaptist.org/bibliography.  The bibliography, copies of some of the books, and a binder of all of the articles are in Room 114 (the Conference Room/Library).

 

Upcoming for Sunday, October 16

“Is God Alone God Enough?”

Rev. Gary Dalton

Scripture:  Genesis 22:1-14

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“The Sacrifice of Isaac” by He Qi.  With permission of the artist,  © 2014 All rights Reserved

 

 

 

 

A Bridge Across – October 11

A Bridge AcrossA Bridge Across-2i

An aspect of Impressionistic painting I enjoy is to stand, gaze, and watch the artist’s registration of light emerge.  What the artist portrayed as brightest in the painting becomes bright to me.  Hues initially hidden on my first viewing begin to separate and become distinguishable as the artist saw and recorded the shades and varieties of color.  I’m discovering this similar experience in hearing your impressions of our current conversation about membership of openly gay persons.

One message some of your comments are now registering with me concerns trust.

I would state what I’m hearing this way:  “Why won’t the Openness Task Force host someone to express the traditionalist view as well as views supporting membership of openly gay persons?  Why aren’t you trusting me to weigh the differing views for myself and form my own opinion?”

If I’m accurately registering your impression as a question of trust, then I appreciate how this five-week process offends your sensibilities of fair-play.  I assure you this is not the Task Force’s view of the congregation nor its intention.  (The Task Force members reading this column, as you are now reading it, are probably incredulous anyone might think that of them, or that I would suggest this question of trust…  What?!)

The Task Force, with my encouragement, recognized that our congregation has not heard openly gay Christians speak to us about their experiences.  And, to my knowledge, while no preacher in UBC’s pulpit has ever voiced an anti-gay message — not even close! — neither has any preacher argued for alternative readings of the Scriptures typically used to exclude openly gay Christians.  This omission recommended that these few weeks allow us time to hear those experiences and readings supporting full inclusion.

You can trust the Task Force’s best intention even if you’ve experienced it as an intention that’s missed the mark.  In this case, you might consider Option Three on the publicized ballot:  information is incomplete, the discussion is incomplete, it should continue after the church calls its next Senior Minister.

The second message some of your reactions are impressing on me is that you’re bewildered by the whole exercise.  UBC has never asked anyone about their sexual orientation, so why start now?  Our standard for welcoming a new member or electing a member to church service is a person’s demonstration of Christian experience and fidelity to Christ.  Whether a man or woman is gay or straight is between them and the Lord.  What we need to know is how they are living out their calling to follow Christ.

If this is your response, then you might consider either the first option or the fourth option on the ballot.  Option One states more precisely what UBC means by “any person” when we say, “Any person may present himself or herself as a candidate for membership in this church.” (UBC By-Laws, Art. II.1)  Or, if you believe this whole conversation is unnecessary or even unwise, you might go with Option Four that says, “Drop it — discussion is not needed!”

What about Option Two?  Option Two may be for you if you find yourself responding something along these lines:  “I cannot in good conscience accept an openly gay person into full rights and responsibilities of church membership.”  You intend no malice or harm to anyone; you fully affirm the gay person and the straight person are equal recipients of God’s love; but, you believe the Bible is clear in teaching that gay persons who act out their same-sex attraction are sinning, and you believe the church would be affirming people actively sinning.  Option Two offers you a way to vote your conscience on this question.

Thank you for presenting your views, allowing me to listen until I can begin to appreciate what you’re experiencing through these weeks.  Please consider how one of the four publicized options may best sum it up for you, and choose that option at the Called Church Conference on Sunday, October 23.

Your Senior Minister in the Interim,

Gary

 

Openness Task Force Congregational Book Study and Discussions

SundayOct. 9 at 9:45 am: Individual Sunday Bible Study Class Discussions of David Gushee’s book, Changing Our Mind; Will Brown will lead a discussion of the book in Room 114 (Conference Room/Library) for those not in a Bible Study Class.  A discussion guide with chapter summaries and discussion questions for the book is available on the UBC website at Discussion Guide.


Wednesday, October 5, 6:15 pm
:  “Psychology of Sexual Orientation” — Professor Charlotte Patterson

Sunday, October 16, 9:15 am: Church-wide Congregational Conversation

Wednesday, October 19, 6:15 pm: Church-wide Congregational Conversation

Sunday, October 23, 12:15, Fellowship Hall:  Called Church Conference to vote on next steps

 

For further reading

Bibliography of additional resources —  http://universitybaptist.org/bibliography (In Room 114, the Conference Room/Library, there are copies of some of the books as well as a binder of all of the articles.)  The following samples from the bibliography provide varying viewpoints on the LGBT issue:

  • “I’m an evangelical minister. I now support the LGBT community – and the church should too” http://goo.gl/1qyfqK

(A summary of David Gushee’s stance, published in the Washington Post)

(Written by one of David Gushee’s former colleagues, this is a broadly point-by-point rebuttal of Gushee’s argument.)

(A summary of Matthew Vines’ position regarding the biblical questions around sexuality, video and transcript)

  • “God and the Gay Christian? A Response to Matthew Vines” http://goo.gl/sn3hdI  (A critical review of Matthew Vines’ work; a free

e-book, available to download).  Multiple copies of this 96-page book are available in Room 114.

 

On Being Magnanimous

magnanimity

Magnanimity is the expansion of the soul to great things…to be more solicitous about the truth than about the opinions of others…to speak and to work openly.

Magnanimous people deliberately determine to forget injuries they have suffered.

Magnanimity is part of the virtue of courage and fortitude.

Magnanimity strengthens a person to take on good tasks.

   —  Saint Thomas Aquinas, b. 1225 A.D.

A Bridge Across – September 27

A Bridge Across A Bridge Across-2i

We’ve just completed Sunday #2 in UBC’s five-week Congregational Conversation on whether to receive openly gay persons into formal church membership.  What weighs on me in all this is that we could lose church members either during the course of this discernment process or as a result of its outcome.  That’s my topic for this week:  will we — must we —inevitably trade out current friends in our fellowship whom we know and love for some possible future friends we might take in?

How should I counsel you who feel strongly that if your fellow UBCer’s say “yes” or say “no” to openly gay members, then you must leave to find another place of worship?  What grief that possibility must be bringing into your hearts during these weeks, as with all of us who would dread such a loss of some of our church family.

Please note that “no” or “yes” are not your only options.  As the Deacon letter of June 29 detailed, you will have two other options as well:  “postpone this conversation until we call the next permanent Senior Minister,” or “drop this topic entirely.”  The Deacons’ Openness Task Force will begin publicizing the specific wording of these four motions on Sunday, October 9.  That will be two weeks before the Called Church Conference to be held after morning worship on Sunday, October 23.

To those who feel you soon must leave because the congregation will be out of step with your own convictions, I offer this guidance:  you must weight your convictions.  Which ones carry the most weight?  Which conviction or set of convictions tips the balance in your decision to stay or to go?

As we do on questions of whether to ordain women and divorced persons, whether we insist on believer’s baptism alone or also accept those who later affirmed their infant baptisms, whether we insist on the inerrancy of the Bible or allow a different reckoning of Scripture, whether we drink alcoholic beverages or fastidiously abstain, so must we weight our convictions on this membership matter now before us.

In the New Testament era, the questions of conviction were whether to worship on Sunday or on the Jewish Sabbath, whether to eat meat which might have been sacrificed in pagan worship before being sold in the market or to refuse any meat with a whiff of suspicion, whether Christian Jews should fellowship with Christian non-Jews, whether to abstain from marriage so to more fully serve the Lord or to seek marriage, whether women might speak in worship or must remain silent.  Please don’t dismiss or minimize these First-century Christian convictions!  Differences over these matters disrupted congregations and at times provoked physical violence.

The Apostle Paul wrote extensively on these questions of conscience and practice affecting the early churches.  He himself weighted his own convictions so he might find fellowship with the greatest number of believers, as he describes in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 and Romans, chapters 14-15.  Acts 21:17-26 shows Paul accommodating himself to the Christian Jews in Jerusalem so he might avoid offending their sensibilities.  Again, don’t take those convictions lightly; despite Paul’s genuine efforts in Jerusalem, rumors of his violating Jewish practice led to his near-murder in the street (Acts 21:30-31).

If I may offer particular counsel with you at this time, please don’t hesitate to contact me.  For all of you in our fellowship, I value you, I respect and honor your conscience, and I encourage your patience and forbearance.

Your Senior Minister in the Interim,

~ Gary

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.

Copies of Changing Our Mind by David Gushee are now available.   Audio CD’s are also available at no cost.  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 necessary.  You may also purchase a Kindle version at Amazon.com.  Please contact a minister or your Sunday Bible Study teacher with any questions.

Sunday, September 18 –
8:45 am:  Church-wide Breakfast
9:15 am:  Congregational Conversation

Sundays:  September 25, October 2, October 9, 9:45 am –  Individual Sunday Bible Study Class Discussions

NEW ADDITION:  Wednesday, October 5, 6:15 pm –  “Psychology Behind Sexual Orientation” — Professor Charlotte Patterson

Sunday, October 16, 9:15 am – Church-wide Congregational Conversation

Wednesday, October 19, 6:15 pm – Church-wide Conversation, for members who could not attend the October 16 session

Sunday, October 23 –  Called Church Conference to vote on next steps

 

For further reading 'Look down here' arrow

Bibliography of additional resources — http://universitybaptist.org/bibliography  (In the Conference Room [Rm. 114] there are copies of some of the books as well as a binder of all of the articles.)

New and relevant articles will continue to be added, so check often.

 

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