Hosanna! On Palm Sunday, 2018, the people of Oak Lawn UMC celebrated the goodness of Jesus with palm branches. We also celebrated our God-given call to hospitality as we raised our palms in consensus that Oak Lawn UMC should be a church where same-sex couples are welcomed to celebrate weddings.
Throughout the Bible, the palm is a symbol of what is good. Perhaps it is no coincidence that the word ‘palm’ also describes the part of our hands that we extend as a gesture of welcome. The palms we raised in consensus today are the palms with which we welcome our community fully and inclusively.
After five months of study, discussion, and deliberation, the congregation of Oak Lawn UMC today supported a Consensus Statement to allow same-sex marriages to be performed and celebrated at our church. Here is that statement:
Whereas, we affirm and believe that Scripture is clear that the blessings of God and the words of Jesus apply to all, as can be seen in this statement of Paul in his letter to the Galatians, “There is neither Jew nor Greek; there is neither slave nor free; nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” — Galatians 3:28. We believe that in the eyes of God, there is neither gay nor straight and that all are one in Christ Jesus; and
Whereas, we affirm and support the Constitution of the United Methodist Church statement in Article 4, “The United Methodist Church acknowledges that all persons are of sacred worth. All persons without regard to race, color, national origin, status, or economic condition, shall be eligible to attend its worship services, participate in its programs, receive the sacraments, upon baptism be admitted as baptized members, and upon taking vows declaring the Christian faith, become professing members in any local church in the connection. In the United Methodist Church, no conference or other organizational unit of the Church shall be structured so as to exclude any member or any constituent body of the Church because of race, color, national origin, status or economic condition.” We believe that this applies to all persons, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identification status; and
Whereas, we find as inconsistent with our understanding of Scripture and the Constitution of the United Methodist Church the statement in paragraph 341.6 of the Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church that “ceremonies that celebrate homosexual unions … shall not be conducted in our churches;” and
Whereas, Oak Lawn United Methodist Church is a Reconciling Congregation: Loving, Compassionate, Inclusive. Our church welcomes people of all ages, races, backgrounds, abilities, economic circumstances, sexual orientations, and gender identities into the life and leadership of our church. We commit to advocating for justice and full inclusion of all people in our congregation, and in the community which we serve; and
Whereas, we believe that we must act with wisdom and compassion to be in authentic ministry within the context of our unique community which includes large numbers of LGBTQ+ individuals, while at the same time striving to stay in connection with the United Methodist Church.
Therefore, we the Congregation, agree that the Oak Lawn United Methodist Church should open our doors to support and honor marriages of all couples licensed to be married. We also agree that our church property, including our sanctuary, should be available for all ceremonies of legal marriage.
For Oak Lawn UMC, ‘Hosanna!’ and ‘Welcome!’ are deeply intertwined. Thanks be to God for palms.