We want to thank BG Falcon Media for issuing an apology to our church and student organization and for giving us this opportunity to speak to the hurtful and misleading actions toward us in recent weeks.
We love this campus and this city. It has been a joy and a privilege to work closely with BGSU to serve its students for the past 36 years and to grow our influence into the community of Bowling Green. As Christians, we love because the Scripture upon which we build our lives reveals the God who loves. So great was the love of God for us that Jesus came to live, die and rise victorious for us so that we might be reconciled to our Creator God. As followers of Christ, we have staked our lives on the love of God. It is our greatest task and highest privilege to be ambassadors of this divine love.
And that is why it pains us so greatly to be accused of being unloving and unwelcoming to some members of our community. It calls into question our very identity and mission as followers of Jesus. So, as harsh allegations were written on social media and on signs held up in protest of our worship gathering in the center of town, we took time to stop, reflect and pray. To search our hearts and consider our actions.
Some have said that we are homophobic and transphobic, yet our church routinely invites those who identify as such into friendship and fellowship. Others have said that we are hostile toward members of the LGBTQ+ community, yet we have had and continue to have members who identify as such who speak of our care, kindness and sensitivity toward them. Still others have said we employ the harmful, traumatizing tactics of conversion therapy to reform their sexuality, yet we stand with the overwhelming majority of Christan churches who refuse to adopt such hurtful practices.
Our mission as a church is to invite people to find and follow Jesus, and to that end we are unashamed. Our conviction to love as Jesus did compels us to treat all people with dignity and respect regardless of sexual orientation or gender identification. At the same time, our conviction to honor the authority of Scripture compels us to uphold a view of sexuality that aligns with the Church’s historic position, namely that God designed human sexuality to be experienced in the context of a covenant commitment between a man and a woman. We believe it is not only possible but necessary for Christians to fully embrace each of these convictions with a spirit of humility and kindness.
One of the ways we embodied this commitment to kindness was in response to the protest. While the organizers of the protest sought to be secretive, we learned of the plan days ahead and we never once considered moving indoors. Quite the opposite, we made plans to speak compassionately to the group of protesters during the sermon and to invite them to our downtown venue for an honest dialogue over lunch.
We know differences exist and value spirited discussion, and we were thankful a handful of the protesters joined us. We are not, as some would allege, afraid to engage in discussions on this topic. We simply believe it is most productive and bridge-building when done in a personal manner that social media does not allow.
In the Gospel of John, we read that Jesus came “full of grace and truth.” Our world, and sadly, at times even those within the Church, would see the need to choose one to the exclusion of the other, and as a result many people have been hurt — a reality over which we grieve. But we wholeheartedly reject this dichotomy. We are fiercely committed to honoring both the wisdom of Scripture and the people to whom we minister at the same time. That has and will continue to be our legacy on this campus and in this city.
For a more thorough response, we have written a public statement that can be viewed here.
Sincerely, The H2O Church leadership team