St. Paul’s United Methodist Church (Lenexa, Kansas)
We, the people of St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, believe that God’s love is expansive and unconditional and that, through Christ, God calls us to love one another as God loves us. We welcome all people, regardless of gender, race, age, cultural or religious heritage, ethnic background, sexual orientation, gender identity, economic circumstances, family configuration or difference of ability.
Paul’s United Methodist Church is a suburban church in a middle class neighborhood west of the Kansas City metropolitan area. Our faith community began its journey to become a welcoming congregation in the mid-90’s. In the late 90’s our adult Sunday school class did the “Claiming the Promise” study and sponsored a weekend workshop to discuss homosexuality and the church. As we began to work toward becoming a Reconciling Congregation it became divisive, people with strong feelings on both sides of the issue left the church and the proposal was dropped.
In 1999 our welcome statement was written and we continued to work toward becoming a welcoming congregation. In the past 14 years we’ve continued to sponsor speakers, periodic workshops, studies and Sunday School classes to educate and advocate for members of the LGBT community to fully participate in the life of the church. We currently have many active members and regular visitors from the LBGT community and countless family members and friends who support them and their involvement in our family of faith. Recently, one of our members did an “It Gets Better” video that was approved by our Administrative.
After the recent United Methodist General Conference, many St. Paul’s members were disappointed and discouraged. Since it appears it will be a very long process for change in a positive direction at the General Conference level, members of our Peace and Justice Team came to the conclusion that change may be more effective from the “ground up” rather than the “top down.” We began discussing again how to officially become a Reconciling Congregation and Senior Pastor, David Livingston, and Associate Pastor Sandra Cox, were both supportive.
A meeting was held to inform interested people that the Peace and Justice team was moving ahead with this step. There was good support within the congregation and, in fact, many people assumed we were already a Reconciling Congregation! A proposal was written and presented to our Council on Ministries in September to add “gender identity” to our welcome statement and request affiliation with RMN. The proposal was unanimously approved and recommended to the Administrative Board which also gave unanimous approval to the proposal this month. We celebrate the worth, dignity, and gifts of every person as a child of God.