A couple of times in the last week I’ve had to answer the dreaded, yet socially-acceptable, question, “So, what do you do?” I imagine for many of you that question isn’t such a big deal. However, I’ve come to realize that my answer sounds a bit insane. “Well, I’m teaching adjunct classes at Carthage College in the fall and (here I’m tempted to cover my mouth with my hand and mumble a bit) I’m starting my own church.” I mean, really, who starts their own church? Typically those with a very rigid, fundamentalist, Bible-thumping, going-to-hell theology. So, very quickly I follow up my statement by declaring that we are an “inclusive, progressive Christian church.” Next they are asking what that means and my short, sweet, crazy answer ends up closer to a dissertation.
Seriously, though, what does it mean to be an inclusive, progressive Christian church (aka. spiritual community for those of us with an aversion to the “church” word)? I truly thought that “inclusive” was self-explanatory, but perhaps it is such a foreign concept in the church that it needs explanation. In a nutshell it means that every person is valued and affirmed as a child of God. We don’t care what your religious or political background is, what your family structure looks like, or whether you are black, white, green, purple or any other color. No matter your mental or physical ability, age, sex, sexual orientation or gender itdentity, profession, vocation, economic status, race or planet of origin, you are welcome to participate fully in this community. We will not condemn you based on your past, your present, your marital status, who you love or who your favorite football team is. That is what we mean by “inclusive.” Make sense?
Progressive means that we have a theology based in love, not in fear. Progressive means that my sermons are not hell-fire and damnation, nor will they encourage you to feel guilty. Our services will not require you to admit to being a miserable, rotten sinner. And our learning opportunities are geared toward thinking, analyzing, asking questions and engaging God from different perspectives. Progressive means we look at scripture seriously, but not literally. Honestly, it’s a lot more work to do it this way, but a lot more fun. We look at scripture from historical, cultural, literary and metaphorical ways. Then we also allow our own experience and reason, as well as current knowledge, to help us interpret scripture in a way that can inform and guide our lives today. (See our “We Believe” page, too.)
To me, progressive is also a dynamic word suggesting change and evolution. Our goal is to progress toward a deeper understanding of the God of love, of ourselves, and of the sacredness and interconnectedness of all of creation. Come, join us. Our next worship service is Sunday, July 31st, at Roma Lodge in Racine, Wisconsin.