When we talk about “our story” we like to think of a people who are on a journey that is always in motion, always challenging and never stopping. We take this cue from the overall context of the story of God found in the scriptures. Throughout time we see a God constantly in search of people, who has been consistent in bringing people to a better understanding of His character. Finding its ultimate expression in the person of Jesus.
Our story is missional because God is missional. We also, are taught this, through the way Jesus modelled his life. For much of our journey we have aimed to make decisions based on theological motivation rather than trying to be cool or conform to the way’s society moves for the sake of that cool and people attracting movement.
We have redefined what it means to do leadership where each person on our Central Leadership Team is valued. We have gotten to know each other. We have learned from each other and at times survived together. We challenge each other and we walk together through this journey.
We know that change is hard, often unpopular and has a cost within church systems. We have seen families move on and this can be hard. But we have seen other things too. Good things; encouraging things.
We have always had the question: what does it mean to be an authentic community who truly care for one another. Who love each other? Who work things out? What does it mean to sit at a bigger table? We are really trying to find out.
We removed our pews and brought in couches and tables to sit around. Not because we want to be trendy but because we want to be more connected. We share coffee, tea and snacks during our Sunday service. We can be noisy and sometimes messy. We share communion every 2nd week because we feel it is central to being a worshiping community. We believe eating together is holy and also an act of worship, so every six weeks our services focus is table communion where people listen and share stories over a meal.
The way that we do community, care for one another, journey with each other is very important to God. The importance of removing the boundaries that traditionally has kept each other outside of our personal spaces cannot be overstated.
In our quest to find out what it means to sit at a bigger table, we began to be challenged and to challenge our own understanding of who is in or who is out when it comes to Kingdom living. As a part of this process SLCC leadership began to explore the injustice and harm done by excluding the LTGBQ+ community. During this long process of researching, asking questions, investigating and exploring, many on the CLT moved beyond the sense of injustice to having a clearer theological understanding concerning inclusion and the importance of becoming a fully affirming church.
On September 22, 2019, Shallow Lake Community Church held a special congregational meeting and the congregation voted 89.8% in favor of being an LTGBQ+ affirming church. This means that no-one will be prevented from worshiping and participating based on their gender or sexual orientation. No one will be prohibited from leadership roles based on their gender or sexual orientation. Full inclusion also means that no-one should be prevented from entering into a covenant relationship of marriage based on their gender or sexual orientation. It also means we will endeavor to end the harm.
Our story continues. Always moving, always challenging and never stopping.