Two of our values at Missiongathering are Justice and Inclusivity. What do we mean by that?
Justice and Inclusivity
When we say justice, we're talking about fairness and equality. We believe this is the kind of justice God cares about (not the punishment understanding of justice). We also believe that throughout the scriptures is evidence of God's desire to love and include all people. Therefore, two of our core values are justice and inclusivity. It's hard for me as a (relatively) young, white, straight male to talk about justice and inclusivity, at least from the perspective of someone who has had to fight for justice (fairness and equality) and inclusion in their own life. Truth be told, I really have more experience being the person on the other side, trying to withhold justice and inclusion.
Growing up I went to a Christian high school, which, like one would expect from a good Christian high school, students had to take a Bible course as part of our core curriculum. I remember, I think it was my sophomore year, because of my last name and the teacher's arrangement of the seating chart, sitting near the back of the classroom near some kids who weren't quite as "Christian" as I was. I purposely put that word in quotation marks, because growing up, I had been taught, whether intentionally or not, that being a good Christian meant being good all the time, towing the line, not cussing, dressing modestly, etc. By all these marks, I was a good "Christian." Again, sitting in Bible class in the back of the room, I was near some classmates who definitely didn't fit into that standard of "Christianity" (again, I'm purposely using quotation marks there). If you can remember back to mid-90's fashion, these kids were into the whole "goth/skater" style, at least as much as the Christian school would allow, wearing black clothes and baggy pants. And worse, they'd regularly curse and talk "unwholesomely" while in Bible class.
The problem came when me, mister wanna be perfect "Christian," thought it was my job as a Christian to correct them of their ways. I remember one day, reprimanding one of my classmates for his swear word (in "Christian" love of course) that his speech was unbecoming. Frustrated with my constant nagging, he sent me a note which had written down, "judge not, lest ye be judged." (The school went by the KJV of course!). Several years later, I saw another classmate from that same Bible class, and I lamented to him that I sure was a "prick" in high school. He chuckled and agreed. But really, the problem is that I was only doing what I thought was best--I was behaving in accordance to what I had been taught. And really, that's the problem with most of Christianity as we know it, it's about judging instead of loving.
The thing is, whenever we read of Jesus, he's constantly doing the opposite--he's loving instead of judging. And more, he's striving to include people that his society regularly excluded, people like lepers, tax collectors, and prostitutes; all people very much on the outside of what was accepted in Jesus's time. So Jesus included those people everyone else excluded, and Jesus also fought for these people to be treated fairly. So that tells me, if I'm going to be a follower of Jesus, and if Missiongathering Christian Church is going to follow in the way of Jesus, we have to act on behalf of the marginalized and oppressed, because Justice is what love looks like in public. We also intentionally empower minority perspectives and invite all to participate, because God's table has a place set for everyone.
This is who we are at Missiongathering Christian Church, and we invite you to be a part of it!
(and if you happened to be the kids in Bible class I was a jerk to, please forgive me).