Weaving our Welcome

First Congregational Church has a long history of being an inclusive community, striving to welcome all into its doors and hearts. On Sunday, October 13, we will be weaving two important inclusive ministries together in our worship service.

In the 1960’s an elevator was added to allow easier access to our multi-floored structure. In 1983, the need was seen and addressed for better accessibility to the Sanctuary, calling for the existing Garden Entrance and elevator renovation. The ramp was also added to allow easier access to the church office and Chapel for people with limited mobility. In 1992 the church doors were figuratively, and literally, publicly swung open wide to intentionally welcome the LGBT community as an ONA (Open and Affirming) congregation. In 2008 a Special Needs Committee was enlisted to address the multiple needs of our community, including but not limited to disabilities. It is important that we be attentive to all in our midst in order to best allow both physical and spiritual access to worship and events so we can continue to be a welcoming community.

For many years First Congregational has celebrated ONA Sunday on the second Sunday in October, lifting up that day to commemorate the steps taken to create a safe environment for  LGBT sisters and brothers, and their families. This year, Sunday, October 13 has also been designated Disabilities Sunday by the UCC, so it seems to be a great fit to weave these two ministries together, celebrating the ways we have worked as a community of faith to address the needs of those who may have in the past felt shut out by the Church.

Members of the congregation personally affected by these two ministries will be participating in the service to allow all of us to better understand the differences we have, and can make in people’s lives.  We will also be dedicating our new hearing loop system that was installed this summer.  Many people have been able to use the system and have found it to be a great improvement over the way they were able to hear before its installation.

Continuing with the Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations, it is through these two intentional inclusive ministries that we are able to practice Radical Hospitality. To quote the book, “We, too, were once strangers to the faith, residing outside the community where we now find rich resources of meaning, grace, hope, friendship, and service. We belong to the Body of Christ because of someone’s hospitality. Someone invited us, encouraged us, received us, and helped us feel welcome—a parent, a spouse, a friend, a pastor, or even a stranger. By someone’s love, we were engrafted onto the Body of Christ. If we had not felt welcomed and supported in some measure, we would not have stayed.” 

Let us celebrate the work that has been done by First Congregational to be inclusive! Let us hear how First Congregational has, and continues to, change lives! Let us continue to weave our welcome throughout God’s creation, as we strive to welcome all!

 

~ Eldonna Hazen

 

Posted on October 1, 2013 at 10:24 am in Featured Content.

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