At Prince of Peace, “together” includes everyone. We join those voices in the Church of the Brethren and in caring communities worldwide, who model the loving, radical inclusion shown by Jesus Christ. We welcome everyone, including people of any race, ethnic identity, gender, sexual orientation, ability, age, economic status or faith tradition, and invite them to share their talents and gifts to further the work of Christ in our church and community.
Of course, saying that all are welcome is easier than ensuring that all people will actually feel welcomed, just as they are. So let’s be clear. We went through a multi-year study and conversation process to decide to publicly welcome lgbtq people just as God made them and ensure that Prince of Peace be a place safe from judgment and condemnation of one’s sexual orientation. So, we welcome all people, but we don’t welcome debate about whether it’s OK to be queer. We’ve had that conversation and are now focused on practicing and advocating for inclusion.
We also joined the Supportive Communities Network of the Brethren Mennonite Council for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Interests to share support, resources and dialogue with other congregations and individuals advocating for inclusion.
But our work is not done. We are currently studying how best to make our welcome part of our official policies. We have drafted a Ministry Equality Directive that would, when adopted, express our desire for all ministries to be shared with all members, including baptism, communion and marriage.
And we’re still growing! We have some provisions for handicapped accessibility, but not as many as we’d like. People in wheelchairs can reach both levels of our facility from the outside, but we only have accessible restrooms on the main level. In worship, we provide large-print lyrics for music but don’t yet have assistive listening devices for those hard of hearing. We’re working to add handrails to the chancel steps and cut down a few pews so those in wheelchairs don’t have to sit in the back or aisle.