May 2023

Embracing the Beauty of Diversity: Becoming a Church of Extravagant Welcome

In the United Church of Christ, we celebrate the boundless love of God that knows no boundaries. This love embraces all people, transcending race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, abilities, and social background.

The beauty of God's creation lies in its wonderful diversity, where each individual is uniquely created in the image of God. As a church family, it is our sacred duty to ensure that all people feel welcomed and valued, as we strive to be a church of Extravagant Welcome.

The richness of human diversity is something to be cherished, for it brings forth a tapestry of experiences, perspectives, and gifts that enrich our community. When we embrace diversity, we take a step closer to understanding the fullness of God's creation and the vastness of divine love. Our commitment to inclusion allows us to experience the joy and blessing of unity amid diversity, as we celebrate the sacred worth of every person.

To ensure that all people feel welcome in our church, we must first recognize and address the barriers that may exist within our community. These may include biases, prejudices, and misconceptions that hinder our ability to fully embrace the beauty of diversity. By engaging in open dialogue, education, and self-reflection, we can work together to create an environment where everyone feels seen, heard, and valued.

Here are some practical steps we can take to continue being a church of Extravagant Welcome:

1. Foster a culture of openness and inclusivity: Create opportunities for conversations about diversity and inclusion, and encourage church members to share their experiences and perspectives. This will help to build empathy and understanding within the congregation.

2. Provide education and resources: Offer workshops, seminars, and materials on issues related to diversity and inclusion, to help church members better understand and appreciate the beauty of God's diverse creation.

3. Celebrate our differences: Incorporate diverse forms of worship, music, art, and cultural expressions into our church services and activities, as a way to honor and celebrate the many ways in which God's love is expressed.

4. Be intentional in outreach: Actively engage with and invite people from diverse backgrounds to join our church community. This may involve partnering with organizations that serve marginalized communities or creating programs that address specific needs within those communities.

5. Create a welcoming environment: Ensure that our church facilities are accessible and welcoming to people with different abilities, and that our services and programs are inclusive and accommodating to people of all backgrounds.

Wilbert and I have felt the warm embrace of this church since we arrived, and are eager to work together to ensure that everyone in our community feels the same. For some people it's a little bit harder to step in the front door than it was for us. So let us be a church that goes out into the world and actively INVITES people of diverse backgrounds into fellowship.

As we work towards becoming a church of Extravagant Welcome, let us be guided by the words of Ephesians 4:2-3: "Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace." By embracing the beauty of diversity and striving for unity in love, we can build a community where everyone feels at home in God's loving embrace.

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Hide yourself in God, so when a man wants to find you he will have to go there first.


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