This article was originally published at TCU 360 on July 19, 2013 . Photo taken by me.
The Disciples of Christ denomination voted to formally recognize and welcome LGBTQ members of its congregation in worship after a general assembly meeting in Orlando, Fla. this week.
Resolution GA-1327, “Becoming a People of Grace and Welcome to All,” was overwhelmingly accepted by members of the general assembly on Tuesday, meeting attendees said. It states that “the General Assembly calls upon the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) to affirm the faith, baptism and spiritual gifts of all Christians regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, and that neither is grounds for exclusion from fellowship or service within the church, but we celebrate that all are part of God’s good creation.”
The resolution was 16 years in the making, after a general assembly meeting in 1997 included dialogue about encouraging the church to “give continuing research and reflection ‘concerning the participation of gay and lesbian persons in the full life and ministry of the Church.’”
Minister to the University Rev. Angela Kaufman, who is a Disciples of Christ member, wrote in an email that the response to the resolution at the general assembly meeting was one of “celebration, gratitude and even relief” and that the church formally agreed on the issue.
“In the end, the hope is that all people who feel called by God to serve in our churches will find places of support, places where their gifts can be fully nurtured and celebrated, regardless of their age, race, culture, gender, sexual orientation, ability or any other ‘difference,’” Kaufman wrote. “The phrase many used within the Assembly walls by those in favor of the resolution was that ‘all means all.’”
Students on TCU’s campus who are affiliated with the Disciples of Christ church said that the resolution was simply formally recognizing a viewpoint that many people in their denomination have held for a long time.
Tony Stripling, a TCU senior and gay Disciples of Christ member, said that he has always felt accepted within the church.
“Oh yeah, I was never discriminated against,” Striplng said. “They take everybody, and they’re just happy to have them there as a person. And since they’re already practicing [non-discrimination], this officially says there’s no discrimination.”
Effie Husbands, another student with Disciples of Christ ties who was also at the Disciples conference this week, said that while the resolution is affirming a popularly held belief, it isn’t a standard that individual churches must abide by.
“It’s not stating that any of the churches of any of the Disciples of Christ have to change, it’s just giving a general belief of the whole denomination,” Husbands said. “They’re just encouraging churches to change their policy if it’s not already in place.”
Both Husbands and Kaufman said that the resolution will not change the way that TCU’s Disciples on Campus organization reaches out to the LGBTQ community. TCU is affiliated with, but not governed by, the Disciples of Christ Church.
“We as a university have always strived to be a place that welcomes and supports our entire community, students, staff, faculty, alumni and others, without exception,” Kaufman said. “So I don’t see the passing of this resolution changing how we do what we do, in terms of programs and services. I hope we as an institution and as a campus community can always continue being intentional about how we support our entire Horned Frog family.”