Northbrook United Methodist Church joins network of “reconciling” ministries openly welcoming of gays and lesbians.
By Jennifer Fisher
Two sets of rainbow-colored ribbons dangled from the cross above the altar at Northbrook United Methodist Church this Sunday, a visible welcome to people of all sexual orientations.
Congregants carried orange, yellow, purple and red banners up to the altar during the service, and pastor Melissa Earley led church members in a “Hallelujah” chorus as one after another spoke about what the church’s new, official statement of welcome meant.
Two years after a group of church member began leading discussions on whether the church should be openly accepting of gay and lesbian members, Northbrook United Methodist Church (UMC) officially held its “reconciling ceremony” Sunday. The service solidified the church’s commitment to welcoming people of all sexual orientations and to joining a network of United Methodist churches that take that stance.
“Jesus’ ministry is about tearing down walls that separate people from God,” Rev. Earley told congregants in her sermon on Sunday. “Our welcoming statement isn’t a break from our tradition, but an embracing of it. This decision doesn’t make us rebellious to the church, but radically obedient to Christ.”
Change Came From Within
Along with a small group of fellow congregants, 27-year church member Alice Lonoff led the efforts to change Northbrook UMC. Lonoff said she believes that the teachings of the Bible, and in particular, the example of Jesus Christ, serve as a testament in support of full acceptance of all people.
“Christ modeled loving everyone, and he never judged,” she says.
As a whole, the United Methodist Church promotes acceptance of all people regardless of sexual orientation, but those churches who have not committed to a reconciliation do not “condone” homosexuality or affirm gay marriage, Read the rest of this story here
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