You will want to read all about the announcement of the Risen Lord Welcome Statement in this week’s eNewsletter. It’s been a long time coming. People in our community need to know there is a congregation in Johnson County (Morgan, Marion or any county) that admits the church has not always been a welcoming place for all and strives to live out their faith and try to do better.
This statement is challenging because it gets pretty specific about naming potential groups of people who may at one time or another have experienced God’s word used to condemn or judge them. Worse, some have experienced religious people using God’s word to justify violence against them or to explain away their suffering.
A big idea in this statement that sticks out for me is diversity. God’s creation is diverse with intricate plants and animals and ecosystems that help our earth thrive with life. When we don’t treat it well, we experience things like climate change and extinction and scarring of the earth.
For humans, too, there is diversity. There are cultures and colors and differing abilities and genders and personalities and families and ages. When we hurt each other, we hurt God. We hurt God’s creation. People live in guilt, pain and suffering. But when we lift each other up and value people’s stories and experiences, we thrive as society. We experience God’s healing. More importantly, we thrive as a sign of God’s kingdom where all are welcome, all are fed, all are loved.
Below are just a few examples of why I believe that this statement is needed now more than ever!
1. Nearly 30% of the student population from the nearby Clark Pleasant school district are racially and ethnically diverse. At Risen Lord Montessori School, 50% of students are from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds. 
2. Recently, I sat down with friends and heard two different people relay stories of family and friends whose skin color is darker experiencing cruel words and actions toward them in local schools in these days.
3. LGBTQ+ youth are more than twice as likely to experience homelessness as their non-LGBTQ+ peers. And, while LGBTQ+ youth make up only 7% of the total U.S. youth population, they comprise an astounding 40% of all young people experiencing homelessness in the country, according to one estimate.
4. Nearly 15% of youth in Johnson County live in poverty. 
The Welcome Statement is a bold statement. It has been a collaborative effort. It is not a suggestion that Risen Lord has it all right. We are a part of God’s continuing creation, leaning into the creative work of the Holy Spirit that we are always being made new.
I’m looking forward to striving for God’s reconciliation and healing with you as we love and embrace all neighbors around us.
“So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; look, new things have come into being”! 2 Corinthians 5:17 NRSV
 https://inview.doe.in.gov/corporations/1041450000/population?student_group_id=el#enroll-subgroup-trend  https://www.covenanthouse.org/homeless-issues/lgbtq-homeless-youth  https://www.stats.indiana.edu/profiles/profiles.asp?scope_choice=a&county_changer=18081