Monday, September 18, 2017
When I was reminded that the 3rd Sunday in September is National Back to Church Sunday I didn't really give it a lot of thought. I did notice that there is no National Back to Church Sunday on the Disciples of Christ calendar, but I remembered doing something with donuts before worship last September and figured it was one of those "things that we do here."
As the date drew closer I began to wonder about the origins of this annual celebration. So I looked on the Internet. I found the National Back to Church Sunday website easily enough, but much to my surprise there was no back story on the About Us page. No cute anecdote about how some kids (or adults) thought it would be great to welcome the choir and Sunday Schools back with donuts, no theological justification for the day, just "Hi! Here are some folks who look like you celebrating National Back to Church Sunday! Sign up so you can be counted!" There was no founding congregation. Nothin'.
Come Sunday I was even more curious. I asked some members when we began celebrating this day, and learned it was introduced just a few years ago.
Back to the computer. My geek sister Leah found a mailing address on the webpage, so I searched that and found the home page of an organization whose goal is, "To reach every person in America with an invitation to a Bible-believing church." That's good. I like that. Then I checked out their Statement of Belief. And what I found disturbed me.
You see, here at First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Selma we are an All Means ALL congregation. My message on National Back to Church Sunday was about openness and welcoming every person who comes as a beloved child of God. It wasn't totally about LGBTQ+ folks, but they were certainly included. Sadly, and according to their Statement of Belief, the organizers of National Back to Church Sunday don't recognize our kind of congregation as "Bible Believing." We believe people who love one another should be allowed to be married, even if they are the same gender. They state that this belief means we are guilty of moral compromise, and not their kind of folks at all.
I like Back to Church Sunday. I don't want to stop doing it. I like the donuts and the socializing ahead of time and the making sure everyone knows they are welcome here.
But I think maybe next year we will choose a different week, and make it about us instead of a National Event. Sort of a combination "Everything begins again this week" and "Bring a Friend" Sunday. And YOU are welcome to join us. Because, you see, we believe that All means ALL. No matter who you are or who you love.