That is what I want our membership to do anyway during the summer: to slow down so you can read more. To ponder things that you cannot always on the run. To pray to find a way forward for you, your family, and the spiritual family of FCC.
But I have an extra assignment this summer. Last Sunday I preached about the blessing FCC brings for couples. Not just for the bride and groom on the top of the wedding cake. But for when two men or two women approach us to be wed.
In 2006 FCC reached a consensus to allow its clergy to bless gay and lesbian couples in commitment services to form a civil union. But with the Supreme Court decision in 2015, the way has been cleared for the church to extend the rite of marriage to same-sex couples. For some, holy marriage is far beyond civil union.
So I preached on this last Sunday. Attendance was good for a summer Sunday, but we need to reach more of you to update our consensus. We shared an 11th Hour gathering which 17 persons attended. Each of us spoke out of personal convictions, and respect for everyone’s point of view carried the day. We want that to continue. The consensus in the room was for FCC to take the next step.
I propose we declare ourselves a Full Blessing congregation. Let me explain that. For nearly 2,000 years, the Christian church was a Zero Blessing church to gays and lesbians, expecting them to keep secret their sexual orientation, rendering them invisible, or in some cases even becoming party to the persecution of gays.
In the 1970s, some pastors began doing commitment services for gay couples. Most churches tolerated these pastors exercising their conscience, but no few churches forbade them from conducting the services within the church sanctuary. I am calling this in-between period of recent decades our Partial Blessing church.
By proposing to become what we call a Full Blessing Church, we agree to offer an unhesitating and fully celebratory blessing over two men/two women forging a holy covenant together before God to love the other as Christ loves the church. Last Sunday’s text had Peter the Apostle exclaiming, “God shows no partiality.”
While the consensus within our 11th Hour gathering was clear, we want to make the effort to seek out all of the congregation for your sense around this change. My sermon from last Sunday follows this Flash so that you can read and ponder, pray and discern. Take the summer to search your heart and soul and spirit on this matter. By fall, we’ll hold another 11th Hour hoping to hear from any and all. Or if you prefer, call me personally any time this summer to chat about this issue.