Our Just Peace Covenant
Park Hill is a "Just Peace Church," a designation that some United Church of Christ congregations adopt in order to make explicit their commitments to justice and peace through advocacy, service and education. In August 2004, our congregation adopted the following resolution that states our just peace convictions.
JUST PEACE RESOLUTION
The Congregation of Park Hill Congregational Church, United Church of Christ:
Recognizes that God wills life, and not death, for the whole of creation, as attested to by the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament, and
Finds hope in the Biblical concept of Shalom that counters fear and offers peace, wholeness, justice, and well-being for all, and
Recalls that disciples of Jesus are empowered and defined as peacemakers, and
Is painfully aware that injustices and acts of violence perpetrated by individuals, classes, and nations injure and divide all peoples, and are contrary to the will of God, and,
Notes that militarism, racism, greed, consumerism, sexism, homophobia, and nationalism are among the belief systems that impede peace, and
Believes that conflict is inevitable, but violence is not, and that living in a just and peaceful world is an inalienable right for all human beings, and
Knows that when some are powerless, and when human needs are not met, justice is not possible, and
Acknowledges both God's gift of earth that sustains life, and our role as responsible stewards, and
Desires to help create a just and peaceful world through nonviolent and peaceful means.
The Congregation of Park Hill Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, RESOLVES to:
Study our scriptures and other teachings, and particularly the life of Jesus, to ground our peace and justice commitments in our faith convictions;
Become informed on community, state and national policies and procedures that threaten a just, and therefore peaceful society, and promote effective alternatives to these threats;
Find additional ways of weaving principles of justice and peace into all aspects of the life of our church - worship, education, fellowship, stewardship, outreach, choice of priorities, and relationships with each other and the world;
Reaffirm its identity as an intentionally multiracial, multicultural, open and affirming, and accessible to all church, and to continually assess the culture of its own practices and customs to assure just treatment of all congregants;
Oppose oppression and employ peace-building techniques;
Augment the peace-making efforts of others who share a similar nonviolent vision;
Actively engage in influencing our neighborhoods, governments, and other systems to encourage and support peaceful and respectful ways of relating to each other;
Engage in life-nurturing, planet-protecting, nonviolent direct actions leading to a stable and just peace, and In accordance with the recommendation of the UCC General Synod, and consistent with the congregation's core values, on the 22nd day of August, 2004, declare itself a JUST PEACE church.
Our Open and Affirming Covenant
Convinced that "in Christ there is no longer Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for all are one ...," Park Hill Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, declares itself to be Open and Affirming of women and men of all ages, races, abilities, and sexual orientations who desire to share in its services and activities. Adopted January, 1991
Learn more about UCC's Open and Affirming Coalition HERE.
What the Bible says about Homosexuality
Tragically, the Bible has been misused as a weapon against the LGBTQ community. In actuality, the Bible has virtually nothing to say about homosexuality - a concept itself only coined in the late 1800s. The overwhelming preponderance of ethical teaching in the Bible advocates for economic justice, hospitality for the stranger, living compassionate lives, and engaging in loving relationships. These ethical concerns lead the church to support full inclusion of LGBTQ folks in church and society, and Park Hill Congregational UCC is a church that does just that.
Much of the anti-gay rhetoric from churches emerges from fear and from misinformation about the Bible. Regarding fear, the writer of 1st John declares that "God is love" and goes on to say that "there is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear." The writer reminds us that we cannot say that we love God but hate our brothers and sisters. The biblical norm of love calls the church to respond in love rather than react in fear to LGBTQ sisters and brothers.
The first source of biblical misinformation is the belief that the Bible addresses the issue of sexual orientation. It doesn't. The concept of sexual orientation, be it heterosexual or homosexual, did not emerge until the advent of psychology in the nineteenth century of the Common Era. Sexual orientation per se would have been an idea foreign to biblical thought. There are however, a few passages (very few) that appear to address same sex actions. By and large, these passages have been misinterpreted.
One such passage is the story of Sodom in Genesis 19, a disturbing tale of rape that says nothing about loving sexual relationships, either heterosexual or homosexual. Some interpretations of this passage claim it is a diatribe against homosexual sex (the word"sodomy" derives from this interpretation). But the Bible states that the "sin of Sodom" was that it had "pride, excess of food and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and the needy." (Ezekiel 16:49) The "sin of Sodom," therefore, was lack of hospitality and care for the poor, not sexuality.
Other passages are in the book of Leviticus, 18:22, and 20:13. Here a "man lying with a male as he would with a woman" is described as an "abomination." Abomination is a term that connotes cultic impurity rather than moral behavior. Few, if any, Christians adhere to the cultic practices identified in the Levitical code, but some conservative Christians seize upon these few verses about homosexuality while ignoring other prohibitions such as eating shellfish, planting fields with different types of seed, or wearing clothing made of mixed fibers.
In the New Testament, what is striking is that there is no recorded teaching of Jesus that deals with homosexuality; it is not a topic addressed in the gospels. In the Epistles, there are a very few passages. In 1st Corinthians 6:9,10 there is a list of those who will not inherit God's reign that include "the greedy, drunkards, thieves, idolaters," and according to some translations, "homosexuals." This is a bad translation of two Greek words. A better translation suggests that the sexual behaviors denounced in this passage are violent sex and sex between adults and minors. In another passage, Romans 1:26,27, Paul decries women and men who are "consumed with passion," for the same sex. He describes this as "unnatural." But Paul also thought slavery and oppression of women were "natural." Biblical views on slavery and sexism have been rightly rejected as concepts of justice have matured. In like manner, biblical views about homosexual acts need to be supplemented by contemporary understanding of sexual orientation.
The Bible says very little about homosexuality. What it does offer is guidance regarding human relationships. The Bible calls us to "do justly, love kindly and walk humbly with God" (Micah 6:8); it tells us to love God and to love our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22:37-39); it implores "be compassionate as your loving God is compassionate" (Luke 6:36). The biblical question, then, is this: Is the relationship loving, just, non-exploitative, tender, respectful, mutual, and compassionate? These are criteria for healthy relationships, be they homosexual or heterosexual.
In keeping with these understandings, Park Hill Congregational UCC welcomes all people. An excerpt from our statement of Openness and Affirmation reveals our commitments:
Convinced that "in Christ there is no longer Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for all are one...," (Galatians 3:28) Park Hill Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, Denver, CO declares itself to be Open and Affirming of women and men all ages, races, abilities and sexual orientations who desire to share in its services and activities.