On Monday I saw that there was a voicemail on my office phone.  As I played the message it was soon clear that this was not a normal voicemail.  The caller complained about our church having a rainbow banner and went on a rant about LGBTQ+ people, our church’s stance of welcome, and female pastors like me being “prohibited” if our church actually followed “the Word of God”. 

I would love to tell you that this is the first phone call like this I’ve received since serving as the Pastor of Colchester Federated Church.  But alas, it’s not the first such call.  For those of us connected on social media, I decided to share that this happened on my personal Facebook page and I’m sharing it now in these weekly thoughts.  Why?  Because intimidation and hatred thrive in the shadows.  Sometimes I think that people need to shine a bright light on hatred, so that we are aware that our public stance of radical welcome will inevitably have detractors.  We have good, holy work to do here in Colchester to witness to our belief that all people are created in the image of God.

Calls like this leave me a bit shaken.  Not really because of fear.  Mostly because hearing venomous words about one’s faith community and one’s self is inevitably jarring.  To know that someone had this much of an axe to grind that they chose to find our church’s phone number, listen to voicemail options, and leave this message for me personally . . . well, how can one not take this a bit personally?  

But here’s what I know to be true—Jesus turned no one away. 
So why should those who profess to follow him do so? 
We welcome everyone here at Colchester Federated Church. 
Why?  Because that’s what Jesus would do.

As our Welcoming, Open and Affirming statement proclaims:

“We invite all who seek to follow Jesus into the full life of our church, ministry, leadership, worship, sacraments, rites, and fellowship: all persons of every gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression; as well as all ages, races, nationalities, mental and physical ability, family structure, and social and economic status.  Jesus teaches us to welcome all into God’s covenantal community.” 

I am proud to serve as the Pastor of a church like ours. 

Pastor Lauren

Photo by Steve Johnson on Unsplash

Thursday Thoughts 5/5/22