Pastor's Notes‎ > ‎

August 2014

posted Dec 18, 2014, 3:14 PM by Henry McTague

Dearest Friends in Christ,

As followers of Jesus and members of his church, we are called to be a place of extravagant welcome, and I am sure that many of you who read this statement will nod your heads in agreement and think, “But, of course!”  There may be some difference of opinion, though, over just what extravagant welcome means.

It does, naturally, mean that we are warm and friendly when new faces show up in our congregation on Sunday morning.  That first smile and word of welcome is extremely important, as it is the initial impression given of who we are as a community of faith.  But that welcome cannot end there.  Extravagant welcome is a friendly face and a hearty handshake.  It is also a bulletin printed in larger print that is easier to read; a sound-enhancing system to make it easier to hear; and explanations in the bulletin so that the service and rituals within the service are easier to understand.  This is extravagant welcome that is inclusive and which lets newcomers know that they are welcome – and wanted.

There is a second aspect to extravagant welcome that extends to the culture of the congregation, and that pertains to the issue of judgment – who is welcome and who is not.  If we are truly following the example of Jesus that is preserved in the Gospels, we know that he was radically inclusive in his ministry.  The outcasts and marginalized people of his time received his attention and his love – not his judgment.  To call ourselves his disciples means that we must strive to do the same.

Currently our brothers and sisters in faith in the UCC church in Rochester are being bullied and persecuted because they have chosen the path of extravagant welcome to all, and in particular to the LGTB community.  Their property has been stolen and they have been receiving hate mail and threats.  I ask your prayers for them as they seek to walk this journey with respect and dignity for all of God’s children.  Further, I ask your consideration of how we can show our solidarity and stand with them as followers of the Christ and people who extend acceptance and hope.  Please pray with me and let me know how God speaks to you on this matter.


Pastor Gail