A Gospel of Inclusion: Welcoming straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer people to the table of God.
First Baptist of McMinnville, strives to live out the Gospel of inclusion, as presented by Jesus in Luke 14:7-23. In this passage, Jesus likens the Kingdom of God to a great banquet table: “Go out at once into the streets and lanes of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame. Go out into the roads and lanes, and compel people to come in, so that my house may be filled.” This passage reminds us that everyone is welcome to the table of God. The question we are to ask: “Who are the ones marginalized in our time? Who are the ones that society excludes from God’s table, God’s house?”
For too long our gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer sisters and brothers have been persecuted in our culture and condemned or ignored within too many churches. For the last twenty-five years, FBC has been on a journey, learning what it means to be an inclusive congregation as it relates to the LGBTQ community. Beginning with the prophetic ministry of former pastor, Bernie Turner, and during the next several years, FBC has evolved as an inclusive congregation. In October 2007 the News Register, a local paper serving Yamhill County, ran a series on our former pastor, Kent Harrop, and his work towards welcoming members of the LGBTQ community at FBC; other members of First Baptist were also featured prominently in this series. In April 2013, the Church Board of FBC voted unanimously to allow the current pastor and all future pastors to perform weddings of same gender couples on church grounds.
We were the first congregation in McMinnville to publicly offer a welcome to all people regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation into the church. We continue to be a prophetic witness to the wider community and hope other congregations will join us in this welcome and work to break the stereotype that Christians are exclusive and unwelcoming to those in the LGBTQ community. Reverend Howard Bess wrote a biblical overview that offers a concise and clear summary of relevant passages. We welcome ongoing discussion with those who agree and disagree with this biblical understanding. As people of faith, it is essential that we are able to articulate a biblical base for how we understand and live out our faith.
Guiding our discussion is our affirmation of historic Baptist distinctiveness including: Soul Freedom; Bible Freedom; and Autonomy of the Local Church. Soul Freedom refers to the responsibility of each to follow her/his conscience. Bible Freedom refers to discerning the wisdom of scripture (via individual study and community discussion). Autonomy of the Local Church refers to the freedom of FBC to follow the leading of the Spirit. In humility we continue to pray, listen, and learn from one another. We believe that God’s Spirit is at work, continually leading us ever deeper into the heart of God. Here at FBC, we continue to evolve.