Every Sunday, as we are sent from worship, we recite our purpose statement: As followers of Christ, we share God’s love through words and actions. Supporting our purpose, we have a list of values, one of which is that we open our door and welcome all in Christ’s love.
Many churches like to use the statement that all are welcome, but usually there is an unspoken “if” added to that - All are welcome...if you are like us. All are welcome...if you clean up your act. All are welcome...if you don’t challenge what we believe.
Our challenge in this world is to be able to say that all are welcome...period. We seek, not just to passively welcome, but to actively invite all people and to ensure that they can be welcome in this place.
One way that we seek to improve our welcome is by being educated about dementia and how to welcome those with dementia and their care-givers into our life together. On Tuesday, January 28th at 7 pm, we are hosting an information session from Dementia Friends Indiana. In this one hour session, participants will learn about dementia, begin understanding and appreciating the perspective of someone living with dementia, and have the knowledge needed to better communicate and interact with those living with the disease and their family caregivers. Each attendee will be registered as a Dementia Friend in Indiana. You can find more information about Dementia Friends or register for this event. Anyone is welcome to attend so please invite others so that we can work to make our community a place where those with dementia are welcomed and embraced.
One benefit of affiliation with and training by Dementia Friends is that we can publicly say that we are dementia-friendly organization - and know that we truly are. This can be an important statement for those who are looking for a worshiping community where they can go and know that their loved one with dementia will be loved and embraced.
There are other marginalized groups who may also struggle to find places where they know they will be accepted, whether it is people who are handicapped, have young children, who identify as LGBTQIA+, who are economic or racial minorities. Sadly, for many people, church is not a place of welcome but a place of exclusion. Jesus spent much of his time and ministry with those who were on the outside of acceptable society - the poor, the sick, women, tax-collectors, and more. As we seek to live into our purpose and guiding principles, we must ask ourselves how we are working to publicly and intentionally welcome those who are on the outside, just as Jesus did.
In the abiding hope of the Risen Lord,