This Sunday, June 12, Hyattsville Mennonite Church is holding a Celebration of Welcome, focused on celebrating 30 years of being a welcoming congregation to LGBTQIA people. As stated in their June 5 bulletin, they “envision this as a time to reflect both joyfully and critically…During the worship service a choir will sing multiple songs, including one commissioned for this particular occasion, composed by Patrick Ressler and Michelle Burkholder will preach.”
In response to Hyattsville’s upcoming celebration, and in consultation with RMC Deacons, I sent the following letter on behalf of Rainbow. Writing this letter also spurred me to do some more joyful and critical reflecting on LGBTQIA welcome at Rainbow. I will share some of these reflections during worship this coming Sunday.
Dear friends of Hyattsville Mennonite Church,
Grace and peace.
We at Rainbow Mennonite Church in Kansas City, KS are with you in spirit as you mark this 30th year anniversary of seeking to be a truly inclusive congregation. The way toward inclusion has not been easy, and yet in the spirit of 1 Thessalonians, “we have been encouraged about you through your faith.” (I Thessalonians 3:6-8) May the next 30 years be full of on-going learning, joy, courage, and the companionship of many.
Occasionally at Rainbow we sing a hymn called “In the Midst of New Dimensions,” written in 1985 by an ordained Methodist minister named Julian Rush. The words are below. Rush wrote this hymn on the theme of diversity for a church conference meeting. It hints at his own struggle to be honest and open as a gay man within the Methodist church. He experienced much rejection in the church, and yet there were always fountains in the deserts, congregations who loved and affirmed him, perhaps more importantly, he found congregations that permitted him to love and affirm them.
We have decided to sing this hymn at Rainbow on Sunday June 12 as our way of standing in spirit with you and all those who long for a day when the gifts of all will be acknowledged and received by the Mennonite church. To quote the hymn—yes, we live in “a world divided by our own self seeking schemes,” and yet Jesus calls us to remember that our fellow human is “Each a gift in your creation, each a love song to be sung.”
May the love song that is Hyattsville Mennonite sing on.
“In the Midst of New Dimensions”
Words and Music by Julian Rush (1985)
In the midst of new dimensions, in the face of changing ways. Who will lead the pilgrim peoples wandering in their separate ways?
[Refrain] God of rainbow, fiery pillar, leading where the eagles soar, We your people, ours the journey now and ever, now and ever, now and ever more.
Through the flood of starving people, warring factions and despair,Who will lift the olive branches? Who will light the flame of care?
As we stand a world divided by our own self seeking schemes, Grant that we, your global village might envision wider dreams
We are man and we are woman, all persuasions, old and young, Each a gift in your creation, each a love song to be sung.
Should the threats of dire predictions cause us to withdraw in pain, May your blazing phoenix spirit, resurrect the church again.