A Statement of Affirmation and Dissent, toward a Gospel Inclusive Church

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20 November 2013
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Urban Village is a United Methodist church plant called to be a multi-denominational community welcoming people from many religious backgrounds (including “nones”) to go deep in relationship with Jesus. Since 2010, we have launched campuses in four diverse urban neighborhoods in Chicago and are one of the fastest growing churches in our annual conference (our region of the United Methodist Church), with the great majority of our membership in their 20s-30s. We are grateful to God that we are blessed with a community made of straight and LGBTQ people. God has gifted us with this diversity at all levels and we are a stronger church because of it.

While we resonate deeply with and are truly proud of our denomination’s central theological beliefs and core mission, we disagree deeply with the current institutional policy that attempts to limit evangelism, discipleship, and ministry, as though the full expression of life in the church were only for people of some sexual orientations and gender identities, but not others. In the past week, we have seen this policy nakedly expressed: a bishop has been reprimanded for celebrating the wedding of two men and a pastor has been “found guilty” of officiating at his own son’s wedding to his male partner. This is hurtful to the body of Christ.

We understand that there is no perfect church and there is no perfect denomination. We understand that the United Methodist denomination is deeply polarized on these questions across its global membership, with successive recent votes being split, often nearly down the middle. While many good and faithful people stress the importance of “keeping covenant,” “honoring the discernment of the body,” “staying faithful to ordination vows,” or “respecting church law,” we can not do so in good conscience –the Gospel of Jesus Christ is too full of life, honesty, liberation, and hope to accept limits imposed by unjust and unkind laws (even church laws).

And so we dissent publicly from the recent actions of our denomination, not out of petulance or reactivity, not from lack of loyalty or failure of love, but because we are trying to be faithful to the Gospel of Jesus Christ in all things.

At Urban Village Church, we believe the Gospel can transform human lives, our own included – in fact, we’ve experienced this transformation. This is why we are in ministry. This is why we are both evangelical and inclusive. This is why we continue to affirm the following statements (from of the beliefs section from our website):

  • We believe that every human being is created and gifted by God; therefore, people of every race and ethnicity, sexual orientation and gender identity, age and background, ability and disability, theological and political conviction are invited to be a real part of the church. We are a Reconciling Congregation and celebrate the gifts of diverse Christians—lesbian, gay, same gender loving, straight, bisexual, transgender, queer—in every part of our life together, including lay, staff, and pastoral leadership.
  • We believe Christian marriage is more than love between two people in isolation; it is a covenant to be supported and grounded in the broader church community, as well. The congregation and clergy of Urban Village Church celebrate weddings (including civil unions) for people of all sexual orientations and gender identities.

As our denomination continues to search, we join our prayers and witness with people across the world, trusting “that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to God’s purpose” (Romans 8.28).

If you would like to talk more about questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out to any of us. We welcome the opportunity to reflect with you on recent events and our ongoing mission to be bold, inclusive, and relevant.

With gratitude and love,

The Pastors of Urban Village Church

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2 Responses to “A Statement of Affirmation and Dissent, toward a Gospel Inclusive Church”

  1. December 03, 2013 at 7:23 pm, Rev. Frank Schaefer Trial - Facts and Media Coverage « Reconciling Ministries Network said:

    […] 11/20/2013 – Urban Village Church, Chicago, IL – A Statement of Affirmation and Dissent, toward a Gospel Inclusive Church […]