St. Paul’s has a comprehensive Welcoming Statement (see below) underscoring the congregation’s commitment to offer the full ministry of the church to everyone, including all historically marginalized populations. A two-year process of discussion and discernment led to a vote by the congregation, in the fall of 2015, to adopt the Statement. In addition to racial and ethnic minority populations, it includes people of all sexual orientations and identities (LGBTQ).
Established in early 2016, the Opening Doors Ministry provides resources, facilitates discussions, and organizes brief programs to include in worship services, with the intent of cultivating appreciation for all peoples and inviting reflection on Christian approaches to social justice, love of neighbor, and ministry to all. Recent initiatives have included a celebration of history and culture in connection with Black History Month, a reflection on President Obama’s declaration of June as LGBTQ Month, and the publication of a booklet of stories written by our congregants about influential women in our church’s history.
The Ministry is also focused on reaching out to the community and has engaged the local newspapers to report on the adoption of the Welcoming Statement and to publish a story about the then-pastor’s courageous invitation to Booker T. Washington to be a guest preacher, which put St. Paul’s at the forefront of confronting racism in the region in the nineteenth century.
We believe in God’s unconditional love and grace. We affirm the dignity and worth of every person as created in the image of God. We celebrate all loving and committed relationships. We also believe that discrimination is incompatible with Christ’s Gospel.
In this spirit, St. Paul’s UMC welcomes people of every race and ethnicity, culture, age, gender and gender identity, sexual orientation, mental and physical ability, faith history, family history, marital status, educational background and economic status into full participation in the life, leadership, ministry, and sacraments of our church.