Statement of Affirmation and Welcome

Adopted as policy by the Steering Committee on June 1, 2003

Background

We are part of the network of people known as The Gathering of Baptists. Four of us began to meet many months ago, because of our concern for the pastoral needs of gay and lesbian people, and their families, who are or have been members within Baptist churches. We began a process of Bible Study, Prayer, background reading, and listening to the stories of those who felt free to speak with us. Our circle has grown into a much larger group of people who have become friends in Christ — a true Table Fellowship, as we meet to enjoy food and mutual affirmation in one another's homes. We are young and old, male and female, gay and straight, clergy and laity. Our common heritage has been our Christian walk and in many cases, a long history of service in Baptist life.

We have been guided in our discernment by the Covenant Statement of The Gathering of Baptists.

With all of this in mind, and at the end of our process of listening, studying, praying, and eating together as friends in Christ, we have developed the following statement:

In keeping with the stated values and goals of The Gathering of Baptists, and as people of faith, we affirm the following:

  1. All human beings are created in the image of God, are loved by God, and owe their first allegiance to God.
  2. All persons are called to commit to Christ as they encounter him.
  3. A Christian way of life includes fidelity in our relationships, particularly in sexual relationships, where we are so prone to hurt and be hurt by our failures to be faithful.
  4. As Baptists, we cherish our heritage of soul liberty, and believe that each person has the right to read and interpret scripture without imposed creeds or institutional coercion. However, we also believe that as Christians, we have a responsibility to engage together in the community discipline of discerning God's desire for our understanding of the text, and its impact on our lives.
  5. Christian community, as a simple matter of Christ-like justice and mercy, must welcome believers and seekers who come, without regard to social or physical status, gender, age, or sexual orientation. Nor can there be denial of leadership gifts on any such basis within the Body of Believers.

We believe our process has been a valuable and fruitful one, enabling us to practise the way of reconciliation, which includes listening to and respecting those with whom we disagree. It is not our intention in any way to coerce or intimidate those with the fellowship of The Gathering of Baptists who do not agree with us. Rather, it is our hope that all of us in The Gathering of Baptists, and those Canadian Baptists in wider circles than ours would be encouraged to engage in close and contextual study of the scriptures which respects the full integrity and diversity of scripture. Further, we encourage Baptists everywhere to accept a full and open dialogue with one another, listening attentively to all concerned, and especially to those gay and lesbian Believers who have struggled so over the years.

Committee Members: Mimi Allan, Barbara Bishop, Linda Sparks, Michael Steeves.

Click here for a list of reviews of pastoral resources for gays lesbians and their families.

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