Don’t Just Welcome--Create Belonging!

By JC Mitchell

I feel I am supposed to write on Sense of the Assembly Resolution 1327, “Becoming a People of Grace and Welcome to All,” that was passed at the General Assembly of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and thus I will not.  Ok I will, but through another resolution that was voted on a little later that business session, 1322 “Hearing Accessibility for Participants,”  for the following reasons.  First off this resolution assumed the passage of 1327.  “What do you mean?” you may ask.  Well here are the first two “Whereases:”

WHEREAS, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) affirms the inherent worth of every person; and
WHEREAS, the Identity Statement for the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) states “…we welcome all to the table as God has welcomed us”

See!  Everyone is affirmed and we welcome everyone.  I love that it emphasized exactly what 1327 emphasized, that all means ALL! 

Secondly, this is a much needed resolution to make our churches more accessible to all people, and the “therefores” that followed are simply statements that the General and Regional Assemblies, and local congregations, can be involved in including everyone at church.  It was truly a sense of inclusion at the Assembly with some great ideas for including the hearing impaired with follow up at the 2015 General Assembly.  I plan on bringing forth ways we have made our ministries more accessible to those with hearing impairments both in worship and on-line for the workshops for 2015 General Assembly as per the resolution.  

There are a lot of good ideas and help out there if you simply ask for help to include everyone in church.  But inclusion often stops at welcome.  Have you heard of the church that keeps voting down the access ramp, with the great reasoning they don’t need it because no one comes who uses a wheelchair?  (And actually they say “in” a wheelchair).  Well I have, just as I have heard churches that welcome everyone, including LGBTQI people, but say things like “we love the sinner but…”  We cannot simply include or welcome, we need to do the hard work of making people feel that they belong.  As Thomas Reynolds says, his test for inclusion is knowing that if someone is not present they are missed, and they miss the community; that is belonging.

So 1322 & 1327 were adopted, but we have work to do.  Did you know there was a Loop system at GA and Communication Action Real-Time (Captioning) available?  Did you know that some people were terrified of the ramifications of voting yes on 1327?  So get to work understanding there are many places we can improve making our table a table of Belonging!

I believe these Sense of the Assemblies are important only if we believe they do not end at the vote, and if we consider them all. Because all means ALL!

PS.  And I resolve myself to work on a Sense of Assembly, or perhaps an Item for Research and Study to challenge us all to make our table a table of belonging for people of all abilities, so if you are interested in helping construct that to challenge us all as these (and all the others adopted at GA) do, please contact me.  Thanks.




Let Us Pray for Belonging for ALL!  

Let Us Pray for Belonging for ALL!