Submitted by Betty VanWoert, December 1, 2009
Walnut Hills United Methodist Church in Urbandale, Iowa becomes the newest member of the Reconciling Ministries Network in support of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community at large.
Urbandale, IA -- The congregation of Walnut Hills United Methodist Church in Urbandale voted on Sunday, November 22nd to join the Reconciling Ministries Network. The vote to become a reconciling congregation came at a special church conference, led by The Iowa Conference of the United Methodist Church, Central District Superintendent, Wesley S.K. Daniel and the church’s senior minister, Doug Peters. The action of the congregation joins Walnut Hills to more than 289 reconciling congregations across the U. S., along with 35 reconciling campus ministries and 84 other reconciling communities, totaling over 81,000 Reconciling United Methodists.
After the conference, Minister Doug Peters reflected upon the congregation’s decision by saying, “Within a short time after our founding in 1989, Walnut Hills United Methodist Church adopted our mission statement: A place to call home, where we are welcomed and sent forth to serve. Our church members have made it clear over the years that welcoming absolutely everyone is a vital part of our fabric. What opened our eyes and led us to becoming a reconciling congregation was the fact that, in order to be fully welcoming, we must communicate that welcome in language and through vehicles that leave no doubt of our sincerity. For those who wonder if the church really wants to be inclusive, particularly those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, we hope that our decision to become a reconciling congregation will make our welcome more authentic.”
As a further commitment to diversity in their church and the United Methodist faith, the Walnut Hills congregation adopted the following statement of inclusion:
“We, the members of Walnut Hills United Methodist Church, welcome all individuals into the life and work of our faith community. We resolve to follow Jesus’ admonition to ‘love one another, as I have loved you,’ regardless of age, race, ethnic background, gender, marital status, physical or mental ability, sexual orientation, gender identity, socio-economic status, or any other human condition. As a reconciling congregation, we believe we are being reconciled to God and to one another.”
Doug Peters also shared, “I wrote a song for our church’s 20th anniversary, and we sing it each time someone joins Walnut Hills:
There’s a table for you here, a table for your journey,
Whenever you’re hungry and much too alone.
And a chair with your name on it waits here for you –
You are home, you are welcome and one of God’s own.
It is our prayer that those who have felt excluded will know that the table does have a place for them too.”