“Inclusiveness means openness, acceptance, and support that enables all persons to participate in the life of the Church, the community, and the world. Inclusiveness denies every semblance of discrimination. The services of worship of every United Methodist Church shall be open to all persons.”
Our committee advocates for radical hospitality and full inclusion in the church. We network with other United Methodist congregations, campus ministries, and church-related communities who have engaged in a process of study and discernment to become “welcoming and affirming,” accepting and including people of all sexual orientations and gender identities in the life of the church. Our members drafted the Statement of Welcome and Inclusivity adopted by our Church Conference in 2012.
We work alongside other church leaders in making the church welcoming and accessible to persons of all abilities, and recently assisted in the installation of the T-Coil Hearing System in the sanctuary and in plans to improve accessibility for persons with limited mobility.
Forum on Poverty and Homelessness Provided
a Wealth of Information
On January 31, 2016, the Inclusiveness committee sponsored a “Walking in Someone Else’s Shoes” forum called “Experiencing Poverty & Homelessness.” The participants learned about factors contributing to and perpetuating homelessness. Mary Lee King, who works with the homeless, and Mary Alice Hunter, who has been homeless herself, described some experiences of one in this position.
There are usually multiple factors causing one to become homeless. It becomes a cycle which becomes more and more difficult to escape.
Housing and employment assistance are frequently targeted for addicts and alcoholics. A very high percentage of the poor & homeless are dealing with a mental illness.
The homeless are 16 times more likely to be shot by the police.
A criminal record, especially a felony, disqualifies you for virtually all housing and employment.
Once an individual or family becomes homeless, it is extremely difficult to break the cycle.
Being homeless becomes a full time effort. You stand in line for food, for a shower, and for a night of shelter. Without a home, individuals have no phone number and address to apply for employment or to receive assistance checks, continuing the cycle. If an affordable apartment can be found, the start up costs are prohibitive to someone who is unemployed or under employed. Deposits and first month’s rent can add up to $1,700+ to move in. The rental application itself costs $40 just to get you on the waiting list. And most subsidized housing lists are closed .
There are temporary shelters, but even the shelters have waiting lists, especially for women. Being on the streets, even staying in night shelters, is dangerous; one feels insecure.
King and Hunter say that our society criminalizes poverty. Our judgements and assumptions keep people down.
This moving presentation gave participants an opportunity to discuss homelessness and walk in the shoes of someone who has experienced it. This is one step towards the understanding it will take to address the problem.
Justice, Not Just Us: Racism in 2015