The Pastor’s Study – May 2024

It’s CPC’s 135th (and almost my 18th!) year of ministry in Mundelein. In fact, even Mundelein wasn’t Mundelein back in 1889, but has changed names at least 3 times since then. Part of what I really love about serving our congregation is how deeply intertwined we are with the shaping of our village’s history. After 18 years, I guess that I can no longer deny being a significant part of that history. Truth be told, it is something I treasure not because I’m proud of what I have accomplished, but because I’m proud of who we have grown to become as a village and of who we are as a congregation. What gives me the most joy is this: both the Village of Mundelein and CPC are earning reputations for being genuinely good at what they are supposed to be as institutions. Obviously, we have different missions-paving streets and preparing the way of the Lord aren’t at all the same! Where I believe the two intersect and excel is this: our welcome and embrace of all kinds of diversity: racial, political, economic, and social.

I firmly believe that Christ intentionally called for a diverse group to be those first 12 disciples because it was the only way that the world could come to believe the Gospel is that these people, who usually wouldn’t be able to stand one another, would now do anything for each other. Ever since my first encounter with CPC, I have found it to be a place that truly lived out the words of its covenant where it says “We will be open and accepting of all who come, slow to take offense, and always ready for forgiveness and reconciliation.” As much as I’ve learned of CPC history, I realized that I didn’t know the history of when that covenant was drafted. I had to search archives of Church News to learn that it was drafted and approved by the Deacons in late 1994 for adoption at the 1995 Annual Meeting, in case you’re wondering. It is the best self-written congregational covenant I’ve ever seen because: it covers what is important, it truly reflects our shared values, and it continues to shape who we hope to become.

Sadly, there are many within the LGBTQ community who have learned the hard way to be wary of churches that purportedly ‘Welcome Everyone’ doesn’t include them. This is why a designation exists within the UCC for a church to publicly identify as an ‘Open and Affirming’ (or ONA for short) congregation. Knowing the history of CPC as I do, many within this church may believe that this matter was put to rest many years ago. We have welcomed into our church openly gay and lesbian members before my arrival. However, to be officially identified as an ONA church, we must approve a covenant that explicitly includes, but isn’t limited to, LGBTQ people. If one does a search for a UCC in our area, it currently shows CPC as a ‘no’ next to ONA status, which isn’t an accurate reflection of who we have been for the past 30 years.

We’ve attempted a few times over the years to move this process forward, and yet it remains undone. After discussions with the moderator and council, it is my intention to work with church leaders to draft an ONA Covenant for discussion and hopefully adoption at the Semi-annual Meeting to be held on June 9th after worship. If a draft is approved by the council at our May 21 meeting, it will be published here in The Beacon for your prayerful consideration. As we welcome newcomers to Mundelein of all different backgrounds, we want them to know who we really are: devoted disciples of the One who unites us all: Jesus Christ.