On Inclusivity and Becoming One Church
June 23, 2023
Our family just returned from an epic three-week trip to Paris and England. One of the things we noticed was how inclusive everyone was. It wasn’t some political statement; it just was. Vegetarian? Got you covered. Have a veggie burger or some vegan sausage. From somewhere else? Here are falafel and fried rice and avocado and vegetable samosas on the breakfast buffet. Gluten-free? Try this beer or that dish or just ask and we’ll do what we can.
This inclusivity continued in signs that were in English and French. In waitstaff who spoke English to us. The prayer rooms for Muslims in the airport. Inclusivity was a way of being.
We were tourists but felt welcomed. Included. Able to participate in their culture and way of life.
The church has a commitment to be inclusive as well. We don’t call it that of course. We say we have a commitment to hospitality, to make sure all who come are welcomed, to feel a part of the community, are able to participate. For example, we offer hearing assistance devices (ask at the sound booth if you need one). We have more spaces for the handicapped than the law requires. We offer gluten-free communion elements. We pay attention to signage around the building. We try to use language those who don’t attend church can understand. (Narthex and doxology are very “church” words!)
You have a role in this inclusivity as well. You have a part of hospitality at St. Mark’s.
As we merge two congregations together, we will have some growing pains. We will have new people to meet. New traditions to understand. New ways of doing things.
You can help during this transition time as you provide hospitality and a radical welcome. Wear your name tags. Come to church with a spirit of openness and wonder, expecting to meet God even if something (or everything!) is different.
I challenge you to be more active in these next six weeks, while two congregations come together as one. Go out of your way to talk to people you’ve not met. Try out a new study or Sunday School class. Volunteer to try something new—set up coffee hour, or usher, or help set up the altar or sing in the summer choir. St. Mark’s folks, sit in a different place each week to acknowledge that we, too, can get out of our comfort zone for a while.
I’m excited as we embark on this new adventure together. May God bless our endeavors, even when we fail. May all who come in our doors find an experience with God, because we made sure they felt welcomed into the family of God.
This Sunday, our worship celebration will include a small choir, organ and piano, a praise band. We will baptize two girls. We will sing and pray and hear scripture and a sermon. We will worship God as we come together as one community. It’s pretty exciting! If you haven’t been to worship in a while, it’s a perfect Sunday to return, meet some new people and praise our Creator who blesses us, that we might be a blessing to others.
See you soon!
- 8:30 a.m. Traditional service in Sanctuary and child care in Rm 15
- 10 a.m. Traditional service in Sanctuary and child care in Rm 15
- 10 a.m. Youth and children’s Sunday School and child care (except fifth Sundays)
- 10 a.m. Livestream premieres on YouTube and Website
To access our livestream service:
- From the main menu on our website click “Worship.” -OR-
- Go to YouTube and search for UMC St. Mark’s Oro Valley or use this link.