One of the slogans at Hope Cov. that has generated the most interest is
“Everyone is welcome but no one is comfortable.”
It is borrowed, loosely, from the late Christian author Rachel Held Evans, and exemplifies what ought to be a core principle for any faith community.
In short, making sure everyone is safe and welcome is MORE IMPORTANT than making sure the members are comfortable.
Almost 2000 years ago, when the New Testament was being written, the gospel authors were careful to include certain biographical details about the people Jesus called to be in his inner circle (his disciples) in order to give us a model for this principle. Zealots (anti-Roman Jewish nationalists) and Tax Collectors (Employed by Rome and considered ethnic traitors) both found a place among the inner circle. Had they met in wider society, likely one would have left in a bodybag, but with Jesus they were (likely uncomfortable) allies.
Similarly we hear The Apostle Paul address, time and time again, the ethnic and political conflicts between the faith communities popping up around the Mediterranean.
Paul's message is always the same: Become uncomfortable for the sake of welcome.
And so it is with us in the highly polarized context of 21st century America. We believe it is more important to embrace welcome (and subsequent discomfort) than to “have it our way.”
This means that often times we do things that intentionally make some some of us uncomfortable. For example:
We intentionally sing in a foreign language to embody what it must feel like for non-native English speakers to come to our church;
We allow people of all ages and abilities, regardless of “disruption”, to have full access to our services;
We took pandemic protocols far more seriously that almost any other church in our area because comfort of some never takes priority over the safety of all;
We often talk about things like race, sexuality, homelessness, addiction, or discrimination even when those things are uncomfortable because they are necessary conversations ;
We center our small groups on books that challenge and deconstruct rather than uphold and venerate White Evangelical Christianity (as so many do);
We haves guest musicians and preachers who we allow to be unapologetically themselves without a call to “tone it down” for our comfort;
We stand up for marginalized people against oppression, even when it costs us.
And these are just the beginning.
The truth is, the God of the Bible, the Ground of all Being, is never one who allowed the called to remain as they were or sit comfortably in their privilege. Instead the call was always to go to unknown and uncomfortable places so that the Kingdom of God could be made known.
And so may it be with us.
If this sounds like something you're interest in shoot us an email: firstname.lastname@example.org