by Kai Abrahamson, Emerging Ministries & Service Director
Go out at once into the streets and lanes of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.’ 22 And the slave said, ‘Sir, what you ordered has been done, and there is still room.’ 23 Then the master said to the slave, ‘Go out into the roads and lanes, and compel people to come in, so that my house may be filled. —Luke 14: 21b-23
This past week I had the amazing opportunity to attend a conference in Denver, CO for an organization newly renamed “Q Christian Fellowship.” Their mission statement beautifully articulates this organization’s place within the larger global Christian community;
OUR MISSION: Guided by the light and love of Christ, Q Christian Fellowship is transforming attitudes toward LGBTQIA people across denominations and cultures. We equip churches, educate lay people, build supportive communities, influence key thought leaders, foster self-acceptance, and advocate on behalf of the marginalized and oppressed.
Throughout this four-day conference we listened to keynote speakers Rev. Dr. Yvette Flunder, Rev. Asher O’Callaghan, Rev. Nadia Bolz-Weber, and Julie Rodgers, some of which you can watch online.
There were opportunities for multiple breakout sessions each day covering a wide array of topics, and a panel discussion titled “Imago Dei-Created for Relationships” where the panelists explored the concept of how we, being created in the image of a Trinitarian God are intrinsically multifaceted, relational beings, who are called to fully live in and celebrate our bodies. You can watch the whole talk on YouTube: search “Q Christian Fellowship- Panel Discussion.”
This year’s theme was #WeExistIBelong, which fits perfectly as we celebrate our 9 years of being an RIC (Reconciling in Christ) community, understanding that an explicit welcome is needed for those who have historically been explicitly excluded from the church. When we exclude parts of ourselves or reject other people we fracture the body of Christ, but when we begin to mend those wounds we repair our connections to one another, and through those connections we are drawn closer to God. Just like in nature (of which we are obviously a part) diversity is required for a strong ecosystem. Why then would it be any different for the Body of Christ?
“46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?” –Matthew 5:46-47
It’s easy to love those who are like us: it doesn’t take much effort. We can relate to each other’s struggles and joy quickly and authentically. God calls us to love those “unlike” us; Jesus went out of his way to go to those who are marginalized or “othered” by society in some way (and who hasn’t felt the sting of exclusion at some point in their lives?). God comes to us in our differences and thrives between us because of them. So because of this an authentic welcome is never about homogenization but the delight in finding God in new places of our lives. Our welcome statement is for everyone! Find the line that you are welcomed—how does it feel to be named and seen? Would this community be worse off without you here? Yes. What would this community miss out on if you were absent? Then think about how much vibrancy and beauty is created through the diversity of our lived experiences. That is the Relational God I want to know more.