Inclusion in a Time of Division

We are in a difficult time in our country and in our community.

The war in Iraq has elicited strong feelings on all sides of the issue, among those who oppose the war and among those who support it. No less so in our churches and congregations. There are three main Christian responses to the present conflict: pacifism–which opposes all war; just war opposition–who believe that war is sometimes necessary but who do not believe that this war is such a case; and just war support–those who believe that this war is justified.

There is a tendency among the religious to slip too easily from righteousness into self-righteousness. And such attitudes can be used to exclude and divide.

The Church of Jesus Christ is a house of prayer for all peoples. We routinely make declarations (such as the one at the top of this page) that our congregations are available to all people regardless of race, gender, age, sexual orientation, abilitiy, religion, or denominational background. In times such as these, it is important to emphasize that we are open to all people regardless of their political opinions or moral conclusions. Our community is no exception.

I want to make it clear that whatever your position is on the war, you are welcome to worship with us and to participate in our broader congregational life. Whether you oppose the war–or all wars–or support it, you are welcome here. From time to time our clergy and our church leadership will take positions on various issues, including the war (see, for example, these resources). But in no way should anyone feel that one’s moral character is at fault or their faith lacking simply because they disagree with such a position. All people are welcome and invited to share, and where there is disagreement, to meaningfully and respectfully dialogue with each other on these matters of conscience.

There is enough that unites us, that we need not allow the divisions of the world to divide the body of Christ.

Yours in Christ,

Mark Schaefer, United Methodist Chaplain