A United Church of Christ congregation west of Lansing, Mich., with a small public declaration of love for their neighbors, has made a large statement about the type of faith community it is.
First Congregational UCC of Grand Ledge, Mich., posted a Ramadan greeting on its two-way church sign a week ago, on the flip side of message offering a blessing for Pentecost. The church's Interim Minister, the Rev. Greg Briggs, said the sign's statement is a tangible expression of the congregation’s commitment to be Open and Affirming, and welcoming to people of all races and faith backgrounds.
"This congregation also has embraced the Be the Church statements including 'Reject Racism, Fight for the Powerless, and Embrace Diversity,'" Briggs said. "While we are a church in a predominantly white community, we can still show support and model what a loving house of God looks like."
The minister posted the message after a church member asked to include a blessing for Muslim neighbors, even though they don’t really live close by.
"Our community is not very diverse ethnically or religiously, and we are about 30 minutes away from the nearest Islamic Center. So, while it might be difficult to develop a relationship with an existing Islamic community, it is as important that we open the hearts of the people in our community to the joy and strength of religious diversity."
The sign, Briggs said also prompted an impromptu visit that brought him joy.
"A community member who has never attended our church thanked us for posting our Ramadan blessing. In this time of division, signs of unity and welcome are important, whether the signs are literal or symbolic."