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  • Micah Royal
    Hey. I think I had mentioned on this group (I may not have -- I am on so many groups!) that my wife and I are in the process of planning a church plant in the
    Message 1 of 1 , May 28, 2005
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      I think I had mentioned on this group (I may not have -- I am on so
      many groups!) that my wife and I are in the process of planning a
      church plant in the Inland Empire area of Southern California, which
      had as a focus working to tear down the walls of prejudice between
      the straight & glbt community, different cultures, and between able-
      bodied people and the disabled.
      One of our goals is to be outreach oriented, involved in the
      community making stands for social justice and serving others.
      I wanted to just drop a line and see if y'all had any ideas about
      how best to do this, as well as pitfalls to look out for. Also to
      ask if you knew anyone in the area that might be interested in
      networking with us about this.
      If so, feel free to respond on the board of, if its more
      appropriate, just email us personally.
      I'm sending a copy of a values statement we are working on, to let
      you get a sense of the direction we see ourselves going.

      As a Christian community, the center and source of our beliefs is
      the person, life, teachings, death, and resurrection of Jesus of
      Nazareth. These constitute the "Good News" which are the
      heart &
      core of what Christianity is about.
      In that sense, we are evangelical: we are as a community is centered
      on Jesus' life, death, teachings, and resurrection. This is the
      good news that shapes who we are as a community and as individuals.
      Yet, being Christ-centered means that we have a distinctive approach
      which makes us different from what is traditionally understood as
      an "evangelical" church. In many cases, churches with that
      designation apply Scriptures in legalistic and literalistic ways
      that at times oppress and marginilise women and minorities such as
      the poor, gays and lesbians, ethnic minorities, and the disabled.
      We believe that Jesus' approach to Scripture should be our model
      how Scripture is read, and we remember that when Jesus'
      contemporaries legalistically applied Scripture in ways that
      marginalized and oppressed others, Jesus chided them, telling
      them "If you had known what these words mean, 'I desire mercy,
      sacrifice,' you would not have condemned the innocent." (Matthew
      12:6-9; cf. Matthew 9:13). Again and again when the literal
      application of the law forced people to the fringes of religious
      life and were used to oppress others, Jesus bent, broke, and taught
      against those literal applications. We read Scripture through the
      lens of this Jesus, who proclaimed his mission as being to "to
      proclaim freedom for the prisoners
      and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to
      proclaim the year of the Lord's favor" (Luke 4:18-19), not to
      oppress or marginilise anyone.

      Jesus himself recognized that there were issues we as believers and
      followers would face which his teachings did not directly address
      and to which the Bible does not directly speak. He says "I have
      much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when that
      One, the Spirit of truth, comes, the Spirit will guide you into all
      truth. The Spirit will not speak on the Spirit's own; The Spirit
      will speak only what the Spirit hears, and the Spirit will tell you
      what is yet to come" (John 16:12-13). So as a community we are
      committed to being open to the diverse ways the Spirit speaks,
      guiding us into truths beyond the letter of the law, applying the
      principles of Christianity to new and different situations. And we
      know the outcome: when the Spirit works through a person, it brings
      liberation from oppression and a focus on Jesus and the One who Sent
      Jesus (Luke 4:16-20; John 16:14).

      We believe that, despite all mistakes, errors, and divisions of its
      members, God has revealed a truth about life and God's world
      the church. There is a core message, a deposit of truth, that we
      see at the heart of all the mainstream Christian traditions and
      movements. We see this as the core of what the Gospel message is,
      the basic truth of the faith, upon which all our different Christian
      traditions and expressions of Christian faith and piety spring.
      Because of this, we feel free to be an ecumenical fellowship, which
      allows the expression of the best and the truest of our varying
      Christian traditions. We believe in being a safe place for
      Christians of varying traditions to find harmony and unity. We
      believe that, in so far as one's tradition can be true to this
      motto "in essentials unity, in non-essentials diversity, in all
      things charity and love," we ought to make room for its inclusion
      our life as a church and our work in the world.

      Celebrates Diversity
      We recognize that when God created humanity, God created human
      beings to be a beautiful diversity. We recognize that each
      uniqueness is a gift of God, in all the ways they can be unique:
      their gender, race, culture, sexual orientation, gender identity,
      disabilities, etc. All of these are divine gifts. Though the world
      oppresses and marginalizes those who are labeled "different",
      believe that in the God's family, the church, these differences
      should be celebrated and affirmed as blessings.

      Following Jesus` example of welcoming the marginalized and
      in the language of the people he served, we feel that our church
      ought to practice a welcoming and inclusive approach to Christian
      Just as Jesus chose to speak in language the people he served could
      understand, so we choose to include language and images for God in
      our worship and teaching which will allow for people from as many
      backgrounds as possible to relate with our loving Creator. This
      means avoiding, in so far as we are able, potentially sexist,
      patriarchal, racist, homophobic, or cultural insensitive language
      This also means intentionally including women and minorities in
      leadership, ministry, and decision making, so that our church can
      work to prevent, in so far as we are able, any group from being
      excluded from decision-making.
      Finally, this means that we realize the truth in Jesus' words
      that "I have sheep not of this sheep-pen," by recognizing
      that God
      is not limited to any institutional or confessional boundaries. In
      our outreach, while not giving up our calling to share our story
      with others and invite them to become students and followers of
      Jesus with us, we acknowledge that God is working in people of other
      faiths and people who are in no faith community at all. This
      means realizing that, just as we must share the lessons God teaches
      us, so God can teach us through any person, even those we might not

      Practices Solidarity
      We recognize the need to practice the biblical principle of
      solidarity: "If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if
      part is honored, every part rejoices with it." (1 Corinthians
      12:26). Remembering how early Christians shared all in common,
      despite differences of class, culture, and language, we choose to
      practice this same solidarity by seeing people of different races,
      classes, sexual orientations, genders, gender identities, and
      cultures as our family. We practice solidarity by choosing to make
      sacrifices for those who are different, viewing their suffering,
      their experience of injustice and oppression, and their trials as
      also our struggle. We also choose to stand in solidarity as a
      church with those in our surrounding community and in the wider
      world who suffer from injustice and poverty.

      We recognize that Jesus' life was not spent merely in synagogues,
      religious services, and among those who believed as he did, but
      instead he was constantly involved in the community, serving others
      and sharing his Good News. His last command to his followers was
      that they would go out into the world to serve it and to share with
      the world Jesus' teachings, that others might become his students
      and followers. Because of this, we value being a church that is at
      work in our community, reaching out in whatever ways possible to do
      works of service and liberation for those oppressed and in need, and
      to make others aware of Jesus` message. We are not content to
      merely learn of God's love for ourselves but feel a desire to
      demonstrate that love in social action and by sharing with others
      God's love for them.

      Shared Ministry
      We believe that God has gifted all God's children with gifts for
      service and ministry. Because of this we believe ministry is best
      done not by one or two key leaders, but should be shared by as many
      as are willing and gifted to do the work, take on the
      responsibility, and share in the planning. Thus, we choose to try
      to share the baton of leadership between as many gifted people as
      possible, from as many backgrounds as possible. Also, we strive to
      share the work of fulfilling God's dream for our church and world
      with as many as are willing to take part in that work, making room
      for the diverse gifts and backgrounds of God`s people to be
      expressed in our ministries.

      Whole-Life Discipleship
      When Jesus summarized his message about how one should live, he did
      so by saying one ought to love "your God with all your heart, and
      all your soul, and all your mind…" and "… to love your
      neighbor as
      yourself" (Matthew 22:37-38). This is commission that touches
      aspect of one's life and growth: one's mind, one's heart,
      physical and emotional health, and one's most intimate and trying
      relationships. Because of Jesus' emphasis, we feel that our
      teaching and practice of Christianity ought to apply Jesus'
      teachings in such a way that all of who people are is strengthened
      and made whole by God, not just some "religious" aspect of
      life and personality. We also believe that those who lead in our
      church should model this whole-life growth, by setting first
      priority on growing healthy Christ-centered practices, attitudes,
      and relationships and teaching only what they have learned to apply

      Jesus told his followers to go out "teaching [others] to observe
      that [He] commanded" (Matthew 28:20); likewise, St. Paul tells us
      that God the Spirit gives each believer special gifts that are meant
      to be put to work in sharing Jesus' message and doing his works
      setting others free (Romans 12:1-7; cf. Luke 4:16-20). This means
      every member is made to be, in one way or another, a minister who
      can live a life like Jesus' and who can share in the work of
      Jesus' dream for our community and our world a reality. Because
      this, we feel that our duty is to equip and empower others to be
      able to grow on their own until that they no longer are dependant on
      another minister or priest to connect with God, but have developed
      their own intimacy with God and Spirit-shaped character. We also
      feel we have a commitment to equip and train all who are willing to
      discover their own gifts and calling, that they can find their place
      in fulfilling the work of Jesus in the world, equipping and
      empowering others for a Christ-like life and Christ-centered
      ministry. Everyone who is a child of God is called of God to serve
      Jesus and the world!
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