As the new year begins, we elders are calling for a series of monthly congregational meetings to discuss the implications set forth in our letter of November 20, 2021 which concluded the Elders' discernment on LGBTQ inclusion at WCF. The planned ninety-minute congregational conversations concerning those implications are scheduled for the following Sundays: January 30, February 27, March 27, April 24, May 22 and June 26.
Child-care will be offered to allow parents of young children to participate fully.
We anticipate challenging conversations at these meetings. While challenging conversations among Christians can be intimidating, they also offer opportunities to deepen our faith and strengthen our fellowship. That’s because, at their best, challenging conversations require us to rely more deeply on the Spirit to help us love one another and our neighbors, to bear with one another, and to trust the promise that in Christ all things hold together.
This will require sacrifices. For one, the process we plan to follow is designed to encourage a safe environment for trust to be built over time. Sporadic attendance is not conducive to this goal of mutual trust-building. Thus, we elders call all who call WCF their home faith community to commit faithfully to attend all the congregational meetings, being absent only for reasons of illness or travel. Forging trust will require consistent participation and courage of us all, a courage which comes only from leaning with abandon into God's love for each of us. We therefore urge us all to appropriate that love and so be able to enter fully and openly into the conversations, putting aside the urge to stand back, waiting to discern whether the direction of the discussions will lead us either to stay or leave WCF, or to dominate the conversation.
The meetings are designed to address the range of critical issues we elders identified as implications at the end of our letter on LGBTQ inclusion. One of the most important rules of good process in hard conversations is “do not rush.” As presently laid out, we plan to walk through the letter's implications over the course of five to six ninety-minute sessions. The sessions involve small group "listening sessions" as well as large group discussions. We will participate in a number of "listening circles" together. The success of the circles depends on all of us. We will create a list of group norms and expectations on how we engage with one another that everyone can agree on. As the sessions progress, we can make changes to our norms if necessary.
We expect that engaging these topics in a Jesus-centered way will deepen our faith, clarify how we should live, and give witness to the presence and power of God’s Spirit at work among us. These conversations will also provide important insight or context for the congregation in any decision it may take to modify current congregational practice.
Because these issues are relevant, personal, and important, it is natural to have some fear about how this process might go and what might happen at WCF moving forward. So, in preparation for the congregational conversations, please prayerfully take the time before hand to address personally the following questions. If possible, please consider discussing these questions as openly as you can in your small group this month prior to our first conversation on January 30.
And so we call us all to prayer and fasting in the days leading up the congregational conversations. May we be free to anticipate the surprising presence of Jesus in our midst, remembering he is Immanuel, and may his Spirit refresh the joy of our salvation in and among us as we step into this new year confident in his love.
In the grace and peace of Jesus the Christ,
The 2022 Elders
Pastor Andrew Cheung, Karin Hope, Kristal Graber and Jerry Herbert