On November 4, 2012, at our annual Charge Conference, our Cooperative Parish adopted this Welcome Statement:
The Silver Spring Cooperative Parish believes that having open hearts, open minds and open doors means we are called to share God’s welcome with all people. We are a community where believers, seekers and doubters of every race, ethnicity, age, ability, socioeconomic status, gender identity and sexual orientation are valued as beloved children of God. We believe that Jesus taught of God’s love and acceptance for all, which we seek to embody through our actions, prayers, service, witness and discipleship. All are welcome here.
When we adopted this Statement, we also became a Reconciling Congregation, joining a movement of United Methodist churches that aims to open the church to our lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) brothers and sisters in Christ.
The Reconciling movement formed in response to the United Methodist Church’s Book of Discipline, which contains a clause that states that homosexuality is “incompatible with Christian teaching” and forbids same-sex marriage in our churches or officiated by our clergy, and also prohibits “self-avowed, practicing” homosexuals from being ordained as clergy. At the same time, our Book of Discipline also maintains “homosexual persons no less than heterosexual persons are individuals of sacred worth.”
Believing that these statements are in conflict, a group of clergy and lay people came together to challenge the policies that prevent the church from serving its LGBT members. Decades after its beginning, the movement now consists of over 500 United Methodist communities throughout the United States working together to change the church and to share the welcome Christ offers to all people.