OVER THE SPRING OF 2023, YOUR ELDERS ARE FACILITATING A CONGREGATION-WIDE LISTENING AND LEARNING PROCESS ABOUT GENDER, SEXUALITY, AND CHRISTIAN DISCIPLESHIP.
April 21, 2023 - An Update from the Elders
As your Elders and Pastoral team, we’d like to address some of what has taken place in the life of our church over the past 13 weeks. While our listening and learning process on sexuality has come with some positive outcomes, it has also left some of us feeling unsettled, upset, or uncertain about where JRCC is headed.
As Elders and Pastors, we are charged with your spiritual care and wellbeing – this is of the utmost importance to us. We acknowledge that greater care and planning should have taken place on our part.
For this, and for any way our action or inaction has wounded rather than built up the Body, we apologize.
In our efforts to hold space for nuance, historical pain, and differing perspectives in the conversation, we didn't always focus on the common beliefs that unite us. If we were to do this over again, we would have anchored our conversation in more clear and accessible Bible teaching on Sunday mornings and offered learning opportunities with guest speakers at different times.
We are and will remain a Christ-centered church that holds fast to the Bible as the infallible Word of God and our authoritative guide for faith and practice. We adhere to the whole Confession of Faith in a spirit of gracious orthodoxy. We desire to cultivate disciples of Jesus who embody Christ’s love wherever they go.
As your leadership team, we are committed to owning up to our missteps, evaluating, and making adjustments. We value the trust and the Spirit that binds us as a family of believers. Thank you for the depth and passion of your engagement as we continue to be knit together.
Feb 11, 2023 - A WEEKEND WITH DR. BRUCE MILLER
We hosted a full-day seminar with Bruce Miller, author of the book “Leading a Church in a Time of Sexual Questioning.” Bruce has extensive experience leading his church and consulting with churches on this topic. We also encouraged everyone to read Bruce’s book in advance of his time with us and to come with your questions.
WHY are we doing this?
Jericho Ridge is committed to radical hospitality and confessional congruence;* to loving people who identify as LGBTQ+; and to equipping all people to move toward Jesus.
The questions we desire to wrestle with together revolve around "How do we live out these commitments in the embodied community of Jericho Ridge?" We believe that the human cost of not wrestling with this question is real and unacceptable and God’s invitation for us to explore it together is a wondrous gift. This is why your whole- person engagement throughout the whole process is so important.* The Mennonite Brethren Confession of Faith describes a shared understanding of the teaching of Scripture which we have discerned and publicly confessed together as a community.
Have a listen to our elders as they explain their personal 'why' behind this conversation in this clip from our NOV 2022 agm
HOW are we inviting you to engage?
Both shouting and silence can amplify feelings of fear, distrust, and isolation. Instead, conversations characterized by the grace and truth of Jesus strengthen our faith and witness. Together, let’s defuse the overheated rhetoric around gender and sexuality, speak plainly, and listen generously.
As we step into this process, we are asking everyone at Jericho to commit to the following...
1) Disarm fearful presuppositions so that everyone can join us in the imaginative task of being full of grace and full of truth (ask: What are the fears that I as an individual bring to this conversation? Where did those fears come from? What continues to shape them?)
2) Delve deep into a complex topic that requires curiously to learn, care in our use of language and compassion in our disagreements (ask: how can I explore and challenge inaccurate stereotypes and negative characterizations?)
3) Discuss hard things with a soft spirit and an openness to other opinions and experiences (ask: can I step into a space of shared vulnerability?)
4) Discern together how we are going to live out our corporate commitments in unity and love (ask: can you remain in relationship with the community while not necessarily agreeing with all aspects of where Jericho lands or where other people at Jericho land on this topic?)
5) Disciple people toward stronger biblical engagement and wider cultural engagement on important topics of all sorts (ask: how does this process help us think about other topics and relationships that we might find challenging such as indigenous reconciliation, politics, etc?).
What does this process look like?
SMALL GROUPS: THE COLOSSIAN WAY
MID-JANUARY TO MID-MARCH 2023
Here's a video overview of The Colossian Way philosophy from their YouTube channel:
As we have a habit of doing, we will be digging into Scripture together on topics and themes related to this conversation. We’ll be exploring the following topics:
JANUARY TO MARCH 2023 - LOVE GOD, LOVE PEOPLE
- Deeper Faith, Wider Embrace – confession and repentance from our own sins (1 Thessalonians 4:1-10)
- Broken Down and Poured Out – recognition that we wound others and we are also wounded (1 John 4:16-19)
- Why Conflict is Not Sinful – conflict is not sinful but how we behave can be (Ephesians 4:1-16) with a story by Lorne Epp
- Framing our Questions, Naming our Assumptions (Acts 15) with a story by Mark Hastie
- In the Image of God – what does it mean to be made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-31)
- A Biblical Theology of Sexuality – what does the Bible teach is the purpose of sex? (Revelation 21) with guest Dr. Bruce Miller
- Jesus on Marriage & Sexuality – what did Jesus teach about marriage and sexuality? (Matthew 19:3-12)
- The Church and LGBTQ+: Wisdom, Clarity and Discernment – guidance for discernment, wisdom for living (Luke 6:41)