Living Out the Good News of God’s Love for All
We recognize that, for many LGBTQ+ people, walking into a church can be pretty terrifying. Please know that you are welcome here and can be completely open about who you are from the moment you step in the door. If talking with our minister ahead of time is something that would help you feel more comfortable, please contact Rev. Jessica Petersen-Mutai. She is always happy to connect before your first visit.
Our congregation continues to live out its commitment to an extravagant welcome for all in many ways. In addition to welcoming and affirming LGBTQ+ people in all areas of our ministry and leadership, we also make an effort to actively reach out to the LGBTQ+ communities, letting people know we affirm and support the whole spectrum of sexuality and gender identity. Our congregation gives financial support to the Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists and the UCC Open and Affirming Coalition. We participate in local pride events such as the Bloomington PRIDE Fest and Spencer’s Pride Festival. First United hosts the Quarryland Men’s Chorus and has also developed relationships with Gender and Sexuality Alliances in our local high schools. We bless and celebrate same-sex marriages and rejoiced on that the day in 2014 when they were finally legally recognized by the state of Indiana.
In Jesus Christ, All Are One
On September 14, 2008, our congregation voted to become officially designated as Open, Welcoming, and Affirming. This means we have joined in covenant with each other to live out the following:
“First United Church is an open, welcoming, and affirming church. Following the faith traditions of the American Baptist Churches USA and the United Church of Christ, we believe that God’s spirit calls us to embrace diversity fully in our congregation and community and to affirm the dignity and worth of every person without regard to race, age, sex, gender, sexual orientation, faith, nationality, ethnicity, or economic, marital, physical, mental, or emotional status.
We are guided by the spirit of Jesus, who reached out to each and everyone, as he did when he encountered the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:4-26). Far from avoiding contact, as an ‘upright’ rabbi of the time would have been expected to do, Jesus offered her, and everyone else regardless of condition, the water of eternal life. We believe, as Paul affirmed in Galatians 3:28: ‘There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female, for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.’
As an inclusive community of Christian faith, First United Church has a rich history of welcoming into worship and fellowship those who may have been turned away by other churches. For example, our church embraced racial integration at a time when few churches were willing to do so. Now we acknowledge the history of institutional condemnation and exclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and intersex persons and are committed to work to end such discrimination. We welcome all into full membership and participation as children of God, and we affirm and celebrate all loving, committed relationships.
As we value diversity, we are guided by the inspiration of Jesus of Nazareth. Our purpose is to help each other live out lives of spiritual growth through worship, study, and service.
Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists
United Church of Christ LGBT Ministries
Indiana University LGBTQ+ Culture Center
Helpful Books and Films:
Finishing the Journey (online book)
For the Bible Tells Me So (documentary)
The Children Are Free (book)