by Rev. Brendan Curran, Assoc. Minister          –          March 21, 2017

The following is an Op. Ed. that Brendan has written which should be published in this week’s Barrington Times, and is a part of our new campaign to get the word out about BCCUCC and our programs.

Dear friends,

Greetings from the Barrington Congregational IMG_0256Church!  Maybe you’ve glimpsed our rainbow diversity banner while stuck in traffic on County Road!  In more recent weeks, perhaps you’ve also noticed the rainbow doors we’ve had on display with the written message, “God’s doors are open to all.”  The doors made their first appearance at Newman Congregational Church in Rumford, RI and have been traveling from church to church the past few months among congregations hoping to make their open and affirming welcome statement loud and clear.  If you haven’t yet noticed our open doors I’m writing to direct your attention to them.  Indeed, as of late, we have displayed the rainbow doors to demonstrate how, at our church, the doors have gone off the hinges!

If you visit our church on Sunday mornings you might hear our welcome statement which proclaims, “We believe all people are blessed and loved equally by God.  Whatever your ethnicity, age, socioeconomic or marital status, variety of thoughts and beliefs, physical or mental ability, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, we welcome and celebrate you!” We offer this welcome stateBeloved Communityment because of what our faith teaches and not in spite of it.  We have let the doors off the hinges and put them on display to make it clear that at BCCUCC we are striving to build the Beloved Community* and want you to join us!

Maybe our open doors might not seem like such a big deal but in a time when violence and hatred have become normative and white supremacy and xenophobia seem to be having their own renaissance, we feel a need to let the doors of the church go off the hinges.  We want everyone outside to hear our ageless message of loving one’s neighbor and welcoming the stranger which couldn’t possibly be more relevant to our times.  We are letting the doors go off the hinges because faith communities cannot be passively silent or complicit in the hateful and fearful perspectives currently becoming endemic in our culture.  In a time of building walls and scapegoating vulnerable groups such as LGBTQ people and immigrants we removed our doors so everyone knows they’re invited to come and build bridges.  As mosques burn, Jewish community centers receive bomb threats, and Black communities are shot at in their churches, we are gathering to be transformed and guided by Love.  We gather in community and try to understand what it means to follow the one who walks side by side with the vulnerable in our current day.  In a time of increasing militarism and perpetual war, we have removed our doors to make the invitation to join in the work of becoming peacemakers and learning to love our enemies abundantly clear to all.  In a time of hoarding wealth, comfort, and security, we have let the doors off the hinges so everyone knows they’re invBE The Churchited to come and help us be a community where we learn to give of ourselves to those in need and defend the common good.

Because too many “Christian” churches have participated in the anti-Christian behavior of colluding with oppression or remaining silent in its face, we are letting the doors go off the hinges so you know that, for us, being the church means, “growing in love, protecting the environment, caring for the poor, building diverse community, ending racism, forgiving often, fighting for the powerless, sharing earthly and spiritual resources, and enjoying life.”  These aspirations listed on our banner can only be accomplished when we, as people, come together in community and help each other learn and act.  I always say they don’t make apps for this kind of thing! We hope you join us in this effort.  Even if you don’t join our congregation, we hope you consider seeking out one of the many rich faith communities in our town that are embarking on similar meaningful journeys!

Our open doors may seem like a small thing, but where else can we laugh, share stories, and come together and make peanut butter sandwiches with people of all ages for the homeless?  Where else can we find a sense of village where a free and open search for truth and meaning is fostered by friendship, a culture of critical thinking, and supported by centuries old sacred story and tradition?  Where else do people get together and decide to go to the U.S. Mexico border and learn first-hand about the plight of poor and undocumented immigrants when much of society wants to dehumanize and blame them?  Where else do people come together and build a house for strangers in need when so many are trying to wall out the “other”?  Where else are people of all faiths coming together and sharing a delicious organic meal and singing for peace together?  Where else are people creating safe space to have sacred conversations regarding the challenges of our times?  Where can we go to help each other cope with stress, loneliness, panel-1busy schedules, spiritual emptiness, and overwhelming responsibilities by carving out time together for peace, prayer, stillness, and the celebration of life?  Where can we plant gardens together?  Where else do we, with our children, find a source of meaning making, care for our souls, and a place to sharpen our moral compass? In times when fear hi-jacks public discourse and sentiment, where do we go to remember that Love is the supreme reality and learn the old congregationalist maxim, “resistance to tyranny is obedience to God?”  We opened our doors so you would remember that all this happens in one place at churches and faith communities!  We have removed our doors from the hinges so you could have a closer look behind the rainbow doors of the Barrington Congregational Church.  In times such as these, I’m often surprised that churches and other faith communities like ours aren’t overflowing.  We have let the doors go off the hinges to give you a clear look at what’s going on here and to let you know that we need you as well to help us, “be the church,” and build Beloved Community.  Come join us.  The doors are open.