We spent time last fall talking about affiliating with the Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists, and identifying as a church that advocates for the full inclusion of all people as God’s beloved, especially those who have been marginalized because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. We signed up, because AWAB’s work is the same work FBC has been about for decades. We explored and discussed that affiliation, and when we said yes, we celebrated.
There’s another affiliation that has long been central to this church’s identity: we belong to the Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America. We receive their newsletter (copies are under the bulletin board in the Gathering Room; it sometimes features words from Bill Apel). We send people to Peace Camp; we once hosted when it was out this way. FBC members support BPFNA with their dollars, and BPFNA provides resources, training, and inspiration for how we can more faithfully follow the way of Jesus. Their theological statement seems especially poignant these days:
We strive, following Jesus, to listen with openness, speak with conviction, resist evil, receive hostility and return love, break silences which harm, resist cooperation with structures that cause hardship and suffering, practice healing, mend creation’s wounds, offer hospitality to the refugee and the sojourner, insist on human rights, love friend and stranger, ally and enemy: to point with our words, attitudes and actions to the acceptable year of God. — Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America (BPFNA) ~ Bautistas por la Paz
This past season has left many of us startled, angered, disbelieving, unsure of how to move forward. And some of the answers are still out ahead of us, and we will discover them together in the days to come.
But some of the answers are even now centering and grounding us, found in the ways we’ve already defined ourselves. What if the only challenge really facing us now is: how do we more fully become who we’ve already said we are?