Saturday, March 19, 2005

We're Proud

Our new Conference Minister was installed today. (Sorry we didn't go; we clean forgot and went to Central Market instead.)

But she did make us proud in her remarks:
"The 'God is Still Speaking' initiative is an identity campaign which is intended to affirm that God is not just a god of history. . . . Rather, God is still speaking through scripture, music, worship, service, fellowship, social issues and in many other ways. Our job is to listen. It is true that the commercial shows a wide acceptance of all people, but it isn’t about gays. It's about offering welcome to anyone who has been excluded from knowing God’s love. That includes not only same gender couples but people with handicaps, people of various races and abilities, young people and old and of every socio-economic status. It has reminded our congregations that it isn’t 'all about us.' It’s about God and sharing God’s love . . .

The campaign has been enormously successful. Our Still Speaking Web site, which previously had about 12,000 hits a month, had over 300,000 hits in December. More than 112,000 people (searched on the site) for a UCC church by ZIP code or city. . . .

The Penn Central conference was a test site for the commercial last spring. While I am sure that there are people who are not happy with its message, we have heard few complaints from our people. Churches were given the choice to 'opt-in' because we know that the campaign does not meet the needs or theology of all our local churches."

Coons-Torn said nearly 40 percent of Penn Central Conference members opted in to the campaign.


And:

"Three churches in the conference are Open and Affirming (officially welcoming gays into the full life of the church) — St. Paul's UCC in Mechanicsburg, and Grace UCC and the Disciples UCC in the Lancaster area.

About a dozen churches are studying the issue (and they will decide by vote). . . .

Churches that do not choose to be Open and Affirming or part of the Still Speaking initiative retain the right to be who they are. We believe all of our churches are faithful to God in their own understanding, and we encourage churches that cannot honestly be Open and Affirming to refer visitors who have that need to one of our churches that is."


Good work, Marja. And we promise: we'll turn up next time.

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