Church Board Publishes “Welcoming Statement”

For immediate release.

February 26, 2013 Grand Haven, Michigan.

A local congregation, St. John’s Episcopal Church in Grand Haven, has taken another step to identify themselves as a place that is explicitly welcoming to gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender persons in the Tri-Cities. Though for some churches, this move might prove controversial, their church leadership believes this is a natural extension of their developing sense of identity and faithfulness to the Gospel.

“St. John’s has a history of social progress. Time and again, this congregation has heard God’s call to faithfulness beyond societal prejudices,” explains the Very Rev. Jared Cramer, rector of St. John’s. “In the early twentieth century, in an age of extreme gender bias, we were among the first Episcopal Churches to elect women to serve on our Vestry. This week’s decision marks the next step in that journey.”

The step Fr. Cramer is referring to is the church vestry’s (the parish lay governing board) approval of a “Welcoming Statement.” This Welcoming Statement is a step in St. John’s enrollment in the “Believe Out Loud” program of Integrity, USA, Integrity is a nonprofit organization of GLBT Episcopalians and straight friends and has been the leading grassroots voice for full the full inclusion of GLBT persons in the Episcopal church since 1974.

The Welcoming Statement approved by the vestry of St. John’s reads:

Grateful for the unexpected grace of God displayed in Jesus Christ, this congregation commits itself to answering the calling of the Holy Spirit that all people may be brought together in the Church. We repent of any ways that we have ever said to any part of Christ’s body, “I have no need of you,” and we commit to deeper faithfulness to God’s welcome in the world today.

In particular, we aspire to be a congregation where people of diverse ethnicity, culture, gender, age, sexuality, gender identity, political views, economic condition, mental and physical ability are present and fully involved in the ministry of Christ we share here.

We look forward to the ways a fully diverse congregation can teach us more about the manifold love of God and we commit to love all as Christ loved us—without reservation, without question, without judgment, without restriction.

St. John’s Episcopal Church Welcomes You!

“The next step will be to bring this statement before our Annual Parish Meeting for full ratification by all the membership of St. John’s,” Fr. Cramer said, “However, the Vestry feels confident that this statement reflects the sense of calling we have as a congregation and we are thrilled to announce it publicly.”

St. John’s Episcopal Church is a diverse Christian community in the heart of downtown Grand Haven. One of the oldest places of worship in Grand Haven, they seek to blend historic liturgy with challenging education and active outreach. They gather together for worship on Sundays at 8:30am and 10:45am and on Wednesdays at Noon.

February 26, 2013

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