During our Easter worship service the congregation completed a consensus-based ritual to confirm their desire to become a designated Open and Affirming church for LGBTQ+ individuals and families. Each member came forward to weave a rainbow ribbon onto the flower-covered Easter cross as a sign and symbol of their individual commitment to an open and affirming faith and church. Then each person took a rainbow colored heart-shaped lapel pin from the communion table as a sign and symbol of their commitment to live out the resurrected radical love of Christ publicly within the church and in the world. Finally, Rev. Dr. Jenny Whitcher offered anointing with Prophetic Blessing anointing oil, that each person "would be transformed and transforming in sharing the resurrected radical love of Christ." To complete this ritual and confirm the congregation's collective commitment to being an Open and Affirming church, together we read aloud the below Open and Affirming Statement written by the congregation:
"Evergreen Christian Church affirms and celebrates LGTBTQ+ individuals and families to be authentically who they are. We invite all to join in life’s faith journey, to serve together, and to create a safe haven for the marginalized. Together, we will continue to seek to understand the challenges of the Church to live out the mission of Christ in the world."
At the suggestion of one of the members, Chris Lambrecht, we will leave the rainbow cross up in the sanctuary through the Easter season (through June 9th), so that those who couldn't be with us on Easter can participate in the Open and Affirming confirmation ritual during Sunday worship in the near future.
If you would like to participate in this ritual on a particular Sunday, please let the pastor know before worship by either emailing the preacher of the week in advance, or letting them know the day of during fellowship some time before worship begins.
We have a few photos of this O&A confirmation ritual on our website.
We began our time together by lighting a purple candle to invite Christ into the space and the Holy Spirit to guide us, and read the corresponding section of the Rainbow Christ Prayer: "Violet is for vision, the wisdom of spirit. Interconnected Christ, you are our Wisdom, creating and sustaining the universe. Free us from isolation and grant us the grace of interdependence. With the violet stripe in the rainbow, connect us with others and with the whole creation."
Today marks our final session of the six-week Open & Affirming process. We focused our time in discussion and co-creation of an Open & Affirming Statement for Evergreen Christian Church. This statement is different from, and also, in alignment with mission, vision, and values statements, and is for the specific purpose of articulating together four ourselves and the wider community what it means to us to be an Open & Affirming congregation. After we put together the statement, we asked some of our LGBTQ+ friends from outside of ECC to review it to make sure that our intentions came across accurately to them.
Here is our Evergreen Christian Church Open & Affirming Statement:
Evergreen Christian Church affirms and celebrates LGTBTQ+ individuals and families to be authentically who they are. We invite all to join in life’s faith journey, to serve together, and to create a safe haven for the marginalized. Together, we will continue to seek to understand the challenges of the Church to live out the mission of Christ in the world.
This coming Easter Sunday, 4/21, we will hold a ritual of affirmation and confirmation at the end of our Easter worship service to become designated as an Open and Affirming ministry of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Open and Affirming Ministries commit to openly welcome and affirm persons of all gender expressions and sexual orientations to the table of Christ's communion and to the full life and leadership of the Christian Church.
Rev. Dr. Jenny Whitcher
Minister of Prophetic Formation at Juniper Formation. Currently working with Evergreen Christian Church to rebirth their ministry as more missional, inclusive, and community engaged. Join us on our Open & Affirming journey.