From Central Pastor Rev. David Colby
The Refugee Task Force and the Coordinated Mission Committee invited us to gather after worship this summer to take a picture under a banner bearing those words. To those who are part of the current global refugee crisis, a sight of a church proclaiming and living that message matters.
We choose welcome is not a new idea for this church. It is in our DNA. To those new to downtown or Lowertown Saint Paul, we hope you will find a welcome at Central. Families with young children looking for a community of support and deep values find a welcome at Central. To those who have lived in the city a long time, but realize that they need a community, we offer welcome. To those who are gay or lesbian or bisexual or transgender, who wonder if this church will accept them for who they are, we offer welcome. To folks who are homeless or hungry we offer practical hospitality and we hope they feel welcomed.
We won’t always get it exactly right. Some will come wanting or needing anonymity and find too much attention. Occasionally people will come and we won’t provide the welcome they are looking for. We will occasionally fail, but our intention is to choose and offer welcome.
As we continue to live into our political climate, this message is all the more needed in our community. We must not give in to fear. We must not give in to hatred that seeks to divide and conquer. And in the midst of terrible violence, we must do our part to be the light that will continue to shine. We must support one another. We must keep our hearts and arms and doors open. Not because it is the easiest thing to do. Not because it is the safe thing to do. But because that is the good news we learn from Jesus.
One time Jesus was busy and his disciples tried to protect him and keep him from being bothered by little children. And Jesus responded with words that still offer us guidance. “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.” In Hebrews, the church is encouraged with these words: “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it” (Hebrews 13:2).
Central Presbyterian Church. In the city for good. We choose welcome. And we hope you will join us.