by Rev. Dr. Diane Weible
These are difficult days.
Last week I learned about a threat to an East Bay congregation of another denomination. A man came to worship and then handed over a threatening written message to an usher. The police were called, and the individual was not arrested but was given a non-trespassing order for three years.
The Interfaith Group in this area is strong and leaders from area churches gathered shortly after this happened to talk about the situation and to share resources to keep our faith communities safe. Even though threats against churches are not new, the importance of due diligence is more important than ever.
Extravagant welcome is important to our churches in the United Church of Christ. We want to welcome all people. We don’t want our churches locked up and we don’t want to live in fear.
Sometimes that is at odds with the reality that there are people who feel emboldened by societal direction to spew hate towards our churches for faithful responses to God’s love in our lives and our determination to be people who reflect that love to ALL people.
I wish there would be no need for me to ever be writing this article. But reality is different.
Yes, we are people of faith, not fear. We are people of radical welcome, not locked doors. We are people of love, not hate.
And, we also want to be prepared and to be careful to make sure that our Houses of Worship and our siblings of faith are protected and free to worship in the way that God has called us. I invite more conversation on this so all churches feel prepared, supported, and ready to worship without fear.