Led by the Spirit of God, TCC is passionate about relieving suffering and fighting injustice, joining the God of the oppressed in living out the transforming message of the resurrected Jesus. We value the image of God in all people, everywhere – and believe that we were created to live deeply with one another, carrying each other burdens, sharing our possessions, to suffer and celebrate together.
Because of our deep commitment to these values we have been committed to embracing and listening to our LGBTQ Christian brothers and sisters who have come to TCC. We have heard stories of how deeply they have been hurt by the church and how time and time again they have been barred from full acceptance because of their sexual orientation. The Bible teaches us that to love is to sacrifice. To love is to include; To love is to embrace; To love is to become vulnerable and loving another necessitates the establishment of equality. And no matter what - love never fails.
After much prayer and conversation we, the board and staff of TCC, have made the decision to allow full access to membership and service for everyone – regardless of ethnicity, economics or sexual orientation. We believe that when access is denied, love is refused; when equality dissolves, love becomes self-centered.
We realize that there are differing opinions on this matter and competing Biblical interpretations. We also realize that some within our church will disagree with this decision – but our hope is that we can be a community where we are unified in our commitment to be in relationship with everyone, everywhere - engaging in the difficult work of being a Christian and taking communion with those we disagree with, with those that are different from us.
Unfortunately, this position has put us in violation with the Wesleyan’s Church’s guidelines that prohibit members of the LGBTQ community from becoming members or serving in any position of leadership or service. We have entered into many conversations surrounding our differences and have been told that we cannot, under any circumstance, continue to offer equal access to our LGBTQ friends and maintain our relationship with the greater Wesleyan Church. This has deeply saddened us as we genuinely desired to continue in relationship as “complicated allies.” Unfortunately, we have been told this it is “impossible” for us to hold our position and continue to be a Wesleyan Church. Because of our commitment to this position, the Wesleyan church has recently taken steps to remove us from the denomination. While this separation is amicable, it seem that it will be separation none the less.
While this is sad for us as we never desire any relationships to be lost – we are committed to our position of offering equal access to all Christians. We believe the communion table sets a precedent for equality that we cannot ignore.
The board is currently working with the leadership of the Wesleyan Church to navigate the details of such a separation from our denomination. These actions will take time, possibly even up to a year to settle. Despite our differences, the Wesleyan Church has no desire to harm TCC, to seize our property, or to inhibit the work of the Kingdom that is happening here – for which we deeply appreciate.
We understand there are many questions surrounding these decisions and assure you that the staff and board are working hard to prayerfully discern what direction TCC needs to take. Will we simply become an independent church or ally with another denomination? These are questions we are slowly navigating and researching. We also want to hear from the congregation and are planning a listening session in January to listen and to answer any questions you may have. But we know this – we are united in our desire to reflect a community of justice and equality for all our friends and believe deeply that the Spirit is working and will continue to work in our midst. Our best days are still ahead.
As we move through these difficult decisions, we humbly ask for your prayers.
Thank you so very much,
Jason Butler, Lead Pastor
Lori McDonald, TCC Board Vice-Chair