Statement of Inclusion
First Baptist Church of Columbia, Missouri, welcomes people of every age, race, gender, economic reality, and LGBTQ+ status. We believe all people are created in the image of God; thus, all are welcomed to participate fully in the life of our church and serve in leadership.
How did we become Welcoming and Affirming?
Due to brave LGBTQ+ Christians sharing their experiences of wrestling with their Christian faith and sexual orientation, more and more followers of Jesus are beginning to question their historic exclusionary stance. It has become clear that exclusionary theology and policies have caused harm for LGBTQ+ people and their families. Plus, excluding LGBTQ+ folks is a detriment to the Church, because a part of the body of Christ is missing!
As a result, many Christians and their congregations are rethinking their theology and practice. Some churches have tried to create a more welcoming environment by downplaying their position on LGBTQ+ inclusion. This, however, tends to lead to a great deal of confusion and hurt because their underlying policies have not changed. (For more information, see ChurchClarity.org, which is an effort to help people understand exactly where churches stand on LGBTQ+ inclusion and women in leadership.)
For this reason, in 2014, First Baptist realized we needed to be clear about our position on LGBTQ+ inclusion. We welcomed LGBTQ+ people for many years and even had gay and lesbian folks serving in leadership, but we had no official policy or statement of inclusion. As a result, we went through a time of Bible study, congregational conversation, and reflection. After which, we officially became “welcoming and affirming” and adopted the inclusion statement above.
Since then, we have tried to continue to live into our calling to be an inclusive community where LGBTQ+ people are welcomed and affirmed. As such:
In 2015, we hosted David Gushee, the author of Changing Our Mind. You can watch here:
In 2019, we hosted a church-wide LGBTQ+ inclusion training with trainers from The Center Project.
In 2020, we hosted Austen Hartke for a community-wide Christianity and Transgender Inclusion event.
We know we have more to learn, but we are committed to being a more inclusive community where LGBTQ+ people are welcomed and affirmed.