The Indiana e-Christian

News and information from the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Indiana

Indianapolis Church Completes First Year as Open and Affirming

with 2 comments

In many ways, Central Christian Church, Indianapolis, is much like many other Disciples congregations. The lectionary is followed. The building is old and the organ is grand. Young children haven’t quite mastered the art of walking slowly and quietly as they proceed to Worship & Wonder.

Despite other similarities, Central Christian has just concluded its first program year as one of only three in the Indiana Region to proclaim their congregation to be Open and Affirming, making a public commitment that persons of all sexual orientations are welcome in the full life and ministry of the church.

The congregation’s membership has included gay and lesbian members for two decades, but it took as many years of conversation and study, a formal discernment process, a new Mission Statement and a Welcome Statement to reach the point of taking a public position.

The formal discernment process began in 2003, as 70 members of the church met in groups of 10-12.  However, it was not until March of 2007 that the congregation began holding “circles of inquiry” about becoming open and affirming.  A Welcome Statement approved in the spring of 2008 affirmed the diversity of the congregation, and the Board voted in favor of proclaiming Central to be an open and affirming congregation in September 2008.

Elder Kerry Armstrong, reflecting on the process, observes that Disciples belief and practice have traditionally been at odds. “We claim the Table is open,” he says, adding, “We declare the invitation is by God and not the church. But, still we draw a circle around the Table and say some are not worthy.”

Fortunately, this tension can be resolved, he adds, through “a long process of living out our journeys of faith – both gay and straight – openly and honestly.” Based on his experience at Central, Armstrong suggests that when “a church shares ministry and struggles together with hard questions, stereotypes and misconceptions about ‘the other’ disappear.”

The congregation’s Mission Statement also calls upon the congregation to “extend God’s boundless hospitality to all.” Central continues to find that to seek to welcome in a way that reflects the fullness of God’s love can be challenging, but rewarding.


Written by ccindiananews

July 7, 2009 at 8:38 am

2 Responses

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  1. Another shining example of what “good church” looks like. God Bless you, CCC!

    Ginny Campbell

    July 8, 2009 at 6:16 am

  2. Wow! So exciting to see congregations doing this. Hope and Pray that we can figure out how to follow! I am so impressed by the time frame that it took to get this accomplished. I am in awe!

    Diane York

    July 9, 2009 at 7:57 pm

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