|Sometimes when I am trying to explain what kind of a congregation I serve, I am tempted to begin by explaining what we are not. You look at the way that Christians are portrayed in the media, and from the get-go we start on the defensive that we are not-closed-minded and that we are not-like-THOSE-Christians. I do have a slight advantage that when I say I am the pastor of the church, my being a woman does tend to expand the conversation a bit.
However, it feels a lot more powerful to name ourselves not in reaction to others but in response to God’s call. We are a church that follows the one God with many names. We are a congregation drawn together by the Christian way with many paths. We are Open and Affirming, and seek to live into God’s rainbow of affirmation. When I speak about our church, I want to tell stories about hosting the rotating homeless shelter in November, a music program with a symphony of ways to celebrate God, the social justice group who even today are advocating at Olympia for climate justice, the kids learning and playing on Sunday, and much more. I find so much energy from our many “yes’s”—the places where we step into God’s call with courage and love. I also find that each of these “yes’s” comes with a challenge; how to live into the words that we claim.
Last Sunday was an important day in the life of our church. Along with a packed agenda of youth, bylaws and faith formation, this congregation voted unanimously to become an Immigrant Welcoming Church.
I found myself, after the work of motions and seconds, wanting to have a moment to pause, and reflect that this was a big deal. In a world that can be spinning in fear, it matters to name for ourselves and our community that we have a call to love our immigrant neighbors. It matters that we are ready to connect with our neighbors here in Bellevue, support physical and emotional needs, and advocate for justice in our immigration system.
Thank you for the committee and its work as we have explored the immigration system and delved into immigration stories. Thank you to all the volunteers who have put in the hands-on work of furnishing homes for refugees or facilitating conversations with our neighbors learning English. And thank you to the congregation that is ready to make a greater commitment now and in the time to come. It is a proud thing to name, that we commit ourselves to be an Immigrant Welcoming church.