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Congregational Discernment: One Church Case Study

1
Diana R. Garland School of Social Work, Baylor University, Waco, TX 76706, USA
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First Baptist Church Austin, Austin, TX 78701, USA
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Religions 2020, 11(1), 27; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11010027
Received: 23 November 2019 / Revised: 24 December 2019 / Accepted: 27 December 2019 / Published: 6 January 2020
This case study reflects the congregational practices of members and staff within a congregation in the southwest of the United States which self-identifies as a congregation within the Christian tradition. The congregation has completed processes and procedures that resulted in the congregation self-identifying as a welcoming and affirming congregation to all people. A Master of Social Work intern was embedded for an academic year, as her field internship experience, in the congregation as part of the ministerial staff. The intern examined congregational and denominational processes that included difficult conversations, daily practices, and decisions with specific reference to LGBTQI+ issues as part of a national research study of Christian congregations determining inclusivity in their membership, governance, and leadership functions. The case study included participant-observation by the intern of the lived experiences of church leadership and members as a result of these conversations and decisions specific to the practices of a congregation with membership of approximately 700 people. Findings included a decision for affirmation and inclusion that resulted in the congregation being discharged from the denomination. There was significant impact on the ministry including the loss of membership and finances. Additionally, ministries of inclusion are enhanced as formerly marginalized populations are now central to the congregation. View Full-Text
Keywords: church; congregation; LGBTQI+; inclusion; welcoming; affirming; gender church; congregation; LGBTQI+; inclusion; welcoming; affirming; gender
MDPI and ACS Style

Harris, H.; Yancey, G.; Steward, S. Congregational Discernment: One Church Case Study. Religions 2020, 11, 27.

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