As AWAB seeks 100% Inclusion within the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, I wanted to assure you that our goal is to promote full LGBTQ inclusion. It is in the best interest of both the LGBTQ community and AWAB to have a healthy denomination that provides global missions and strong administrative support related to staff benefits and asset management. A strong denomination includes all voices equally without discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status.
In order to avoid any confusion regarding our goals and the meaning of 100% Inclusion, we want to clarify how we define 100% Inclusion:
100% Inclusion is not seeing sexual orientation and gender identity as a deficiency or limitation 100% Inclusion is seeing all LGBTQ individuals in the Imago Dei
100% Inclusion is not creating procedures specifically for LGBTQ individuals 100% Inclusion is treating all people equally with policies and procedures that do not discriminate
100% Inclusion is not ignoring, pandering, patronizing, or speaking for LGBTQ voices 100% Inclusion is listening to LGBTQ voices and taking action that embraces and affirms LGBTQ members
100% Inclusion is not segregating LGBTQ individuals as a class and acting as though they are “separate but equal” 100% Inclusion is full integration within the denominational body
100% Inclusion is not limiting the possibilities of LGBTQ individuals 100% Inclusion is offering opportunities to be a prophetic witness of God’s love
At the CBF Kentucky meeting, you mentioned that the one current thing that you would change in CBF life is the “hang dog attitude” that you witness in congregants. I have to wonder, if that attitude emanates from exclusionary actions and procedures. Exclusion is contrary to Christ’s actions. At the first communion, Jesus welcomed (without making effort to change them or place qualifications on their attendance) someone who would doubt Him, someone who would deny Him, and someone who would betray Him. I would hope that CBF would replicate Jesus’ actions and include LGBTQ individuals at the table, which is what we are seeking. When you and CBF are willing to do so, we are more than willing to offer a framework for reconciliation and inclusion.
In Christ’s love, Catherine Chapman Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists
Letter to ABC
June 1, 2018
The Rev. Dr. Lee B. Spitzer c/o The American Baptist Churches, USA P.O. Box 851 Valley Forge, PA 19482-0851
Dear Dr. Spitzer:
On behalf of the Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists (AWAB), we would like the opportunity to meet with you and your staff to explore points of commonality and opportunities where AWAB and ABC/USA can support each other in mission and ministry. We have been requesting such a meeting, since before your installation last year, when members of the ABC-USA Board committed to seeking such a meeting.
We recognize the sensitive nature of all matters pertaining to human sexuality and how at times our Baptist family addressed these realities differently. Knowing too that more and more individuals and communities are coming to terms with the realities of human sexuality with all of its complexities, we believe that this is the time and season for us as American Baptists to create greater avenues of dialogue and opportunities for mutual support.
Within our own denominational family, more and more LGBTQ individuals are finding the courage to step into roles of public ministry and congregational leadership. Gratefully, congregations and seminaries are providing more and more safe spaces for LGBTQ members to explore and engage mission and ministry at many levels. In communicating with local churches, we see so many people eager to attend Baptist churches that are diverse and inclusive of that diversity.
With all the change that is occurring and the continued demand for inclusion, ecclesiastically and as well socially, AWAB would be happy to assist our American Baptist family in taking steps to connect with more Baptists by being more open and affirming of everyone that is called into our denominational body.
As we move into the latter part of the year, We have the following dates open for a possible meeting: (let’s provide three dates). If none of these dates fits your schedule, would you please provide us with two alternative dates by Friday, June 22, 2018. We request this meeting in spirit of openness to the possibilities that may ignite in us all a desire to reflect more fully the beloved Christ-like community to which we are all called.