Inclusive or Exclusive?
“Sign here,” the director of Christian education said as he slid the form across the table.
I offered to lead a single’s class at my home church, the church where I was baptized as a child. Everyone thought I was a perfect fit to serve as the director since I was divorced and an active member of the church after returning from a church that was located in a neighboring city.
Then one evening I was surprised when the two men came to my house. One was the Director of Christian Education; the other was the head of deacons. We sat across from one another at my round dining table. The Director explained that everyone who held a leadership position in the church signed this agreement.
The few items on the brief form concerned me:
- I will not attend services at any church where they speak in tongues.
- I will not associate with people who practice speaking in tongues.
I stopped there.
The church I attended before coming back to this one was a full gospel church that had lovingly held me in their arms during the darkest times of my life. My son, the first my three children to be baptized, was baptized there. Speaking in tongues was a part, though a small part, of that congregation.
I sat stunned that this was happening. I was asked to shun my friends. I was asked to cut myself off from a group of Christians who had been loving, kind, and supportive of me through a difficult divorce.
I slid the form across the table and simply said, “I can’t sign that.”
Neither of the men expected this. I could tell by the expressions on their faces. As far as I was concerned there was no room for discussion. They explained that I could not serve as the leader of a single’s class unless I signed the document. I said that I understood that. I was not about to enter a discussion with them.
There would be no single’s class.
I’ve been careful not to sign such documents ever since.
For me being a Christian is being inclusive, not exclusive. I am no longer a member of that church or denomination.
Gail holds a degree from Lamar University in Speech and a Master’s from the University of Texas. She married Sam after raising three children as a single mother. She was an educator in regular and special education for twenty years, finishing her professional career as a Braille teacher. In 2007 She founded SMORE for Women. SMORE is a nonprofit association whose goal is Single Moms, Overjoyed, Rejuvenated, & Empowered. She is a Certified Professional Coach and her stories have been published in several Christian books and magazines. Her book, Living Learning Loving, will be available in June 2015.