We have probably all heard stories of churches that are not welcoming to LGBTQ people or exclude us altogether, and many of us have experienced that hurt. But they really should be welcoming.
Mathew 10:40-42 says:
“Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. Whoever welcomes a prophet as a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and whoever welcomes a righteous person as a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward. And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.”
It is pretty clear that Jesus is telling us to welcome each other. If we do, we welcome him and in turn the Father who sent him. He doesn’t say to make a judgement about who is worthy to be welcomed, he simply says to welcome.
But I believe that welcoming each other is more than just letting us attend or even saying “welcome” or “hello”. Jesus also commands us “Do to others as you would have them do to you” which is pretty well known and can be found in Luke 6:31. I wouldn’t want a church to say hi then make it clear that I am not really wanted or not trusted or to question if I could serve. I wouldn’t want gossip or snide comments or sermons telling me I am doomed to hell. I would want to be loved and treated with respect and to be welcomed into church life. So that has to be how I should welcome others.
Sadly, many churches are not so welcoming to the LGBTQ community and as a result lots of people attend churches or groups set up specifically to serve our community. There are none here in Teesside that I can find and so I am keen to get something started. If you are local to Teesside or within travelling distance and would be interested in such a group, please get in touch.