A process of discernment is underway at First Baptist Church of Indianapolis.
Last November, the FBC Administrative Council voted unanimously to form a task force to design and lead a process of discernment, conversation and education related to LGBTQ inclusion. In May of this year, the task force was officially established and began its work under the leadership of Carol Green and Jack P. Morgan.
For some time, God had been preparing us for these conversations. This endeavor toward greater outreach to LGBTQ people began in 2016 with a series of conversations between FBC members and our pastoral staff. FBC Indianapolis had been growing more diverse for years, but we knew there were even more ways we could reach out to our neighbors. As one member said, “People are starving for God’s love in today’s world. People need God and they need to know they are welcome.”
Still, we know that LGBTQ inclusion remains a controversial issue in most churches throughout America. And so, we have proceeded carefully. We sought advice and resources from other organizations, including the Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists (AWAB.) We had many conversations. By 2019, a group of more than twenty FBC members had begun gathering to discuss ways our congregation might become more welcoming to LGBTQ people.
Late last year, this group approached the FBC Administrative Council. They believed that a public process of education, conversation, and discernment was an important next step. The Administrative Council agreed, and a task force was officially formed in May of 2020. In addition to Jack and Carol, the members of the task force are Cindy Akers, Bob Demaree, Adam McGowen, Stan Minks, and Katie Wah. Over the next few months, this group will design programs and plan activities to help us learn and talk together about the important issues of human sexuality, gender identity, and inclusivity.
We don’t know exactly where this journey will lead. But we hope that you will join us in this process with a spirit of openness and courage. We will attempt to create spaces where all FBC members can share their constructive and honest thoughts. Even if these conversations are uncomfortable for some of us, we believe that God will be at work in and through them. We trust that we will emerge from this process united in purpose, so that FBC Indianapolis can become even more the kind of church that shares God’s love to many people that other churches are leaving behind!