From the earliest musings about our church, we identified ourselves as people who embrace and celebrate diversity. We are toddlers, grandparents, newborns, first-time parents, empty-nesters, singles, widows, adolescents, teens and newly-weds. All of God's children are welcome here regardless of faith heritage, ethnicity, gender, education, sexual identity, age or ability.It is under the tag "Who Are We." It could be on the front page of the website. It could be on our bulletins that we hand out. We could fly a rainbow flag over the building. We could be as sensitive in referring to families to be inclusive of gay couples as we are inclusive of blended families.
Here's an argument against doing this: Why should we have to say that, why not just say we accept everyone?
If you think about this for race & gender it makes a lot of sense. What do you think about a church that says, "We welcome people of all races!"? Isn't there a part of you that says, "Well, good for you."?
I think it is different with being open & affirming. I think telling people you accept gays is a stand in for all kinds of things. I would love to hear from some non-church goers on this. What do it mean to you when you hear that a church is welcoming and supportive of the GLBT community? Should a church advertise this fact about itself?
[Side note: What does a church need to do before it is open & affirming? Congregational vote? Hire an Open & Affirming Pastor? Fly a rainbow flag?]