January 13th Letter

UBC Leadership Team Building Use and Pastoral Autonomy Statement

In August the current leadership team began a conversation and a discernment process regarding building use and pastoral autonomy related to marriage ceremonies for all people regardless of their sexual orientation. We are aware that many local churches, and churches throughout history, have taken up this conversation and have come to different theological and practical conclusions. We are aware that as individuals in this congregation we might hold a range of ideas, beliefs and convictions on these matters. And, we are interested in hearing what those ideas, beliefs and convictions are as a part of our discerning.

UBC has always been a place that welcomes intellectual and theological diversity, and as such many of our policies on many items are intentionally or incidentally ambiguous.  In many cases this is fine and even good, however we have come to fear that the current ambiguity about the use of our building and the autonomy of our pastors to marry, or not marry, whomever they feel led, can have the unintended consequence of creating confusion and pain for those who identify as a part of the LGBTQ community. To avoid such pain and confusion we feel the need to produce and provide clarity on these two particular policies.

It is always our desire as a leadership team to act in a manner that reflects grace, truth, and most importantly love-- for God and for one another. We are honored to try and hold many realities in tension at UBC. We know and love that this congregation is home to people who identify as gay, straight and other—individuals who see themselves as advocates, scholars, theologians, overcomers, all-and-none-of-the-above. We are grateful for those here who remind us time and again of the importance of tradition in forming us in the way of Christ. And we are grateful for those among us who continually cry out for change in the name of Jesus. We love that so many different and complex people who bear the image of Christ, call this place home.

And as a leadership team who takes seriously the importance of community, we feel that it is right to articulate some of the potential stakes of our eventual choices regarding building use and pastoral autonomy. Our decision will impact all of us, but some in very particular ways. Some congregants both gay and straight will be hurt and potentially unable to see a way of remaining at UBC if we make a decision that conflicts with their deeply held convictions or identities, though our intention would be for all to remain welcome. Congregants who identify as LGBTQ could find themselves hurt, displaced and/or left with limited church options as a result of our decision. Congregants who are affiliated with the Baptist General Convention of Texas (BGCT) for their education or job could be displaced and/or hurt by our decision as well. And so, it is with faith in God and one another that we as the decision-making body at UBC endeavor to use our best collective theological reasoning and convictions to make our decision on these matters. With this in mind, we would like to offer three ways for you to share your voice with us regarding our policy decisions.

First, as always you can reach out to any of us on leadership at any time using our emails printed in the weekly newsletter,

Second, if you would like to speak with a team member one on one or in a small group here at the building,  meeting times with team members will be posted in the foyer. You may sign up for a slot there with the leadership team member of your choosing. These meetings are primarily an opportunity for you to speak and for us to listen.

Finally, if you would prefer to write your thoughts down on paper you may do so by writing your thoughts on the cards provided in the foyer and leaving them in the box nearby.

We will use your feedback to help inform our decision-making process.

Understanding and succumbing to the reality that God’s timing is not always our own, it is our sincere hope to work hard and come to a decision on these matters sometime this Spring. Thank you for listening. We look forward to being with you in person and in prayer.  

This letter was read during the liturgy on Sunday, January 13th, 2019. If you would like to contact anyone from the leadership team or pastoral staff, you will find the contact information below.

Leadership Team
Adam Winn:  adamwinn68@yahoo.com
Byron Griffin: byrontgriffin@gmail.com
Kerri Fisher: Kerri_Fisher@baylor.edu
Bridget Heins: bheins@hot.rr.com
Jeremy Nance: Jeremy.J.Nance@L3T.com
Joanna Sowards: jo.sowards@gmail.com
Kathy Krey: kathykrey@gmail.com
Samuel Moore (student position): samuel_moore2@baylor.edu
Anna Carol Peery (student postion): anna_peery@baylor.edu

Pastoral Staff
Josh Carney (Lead Pastor): josh@ubcwaco.org
Taylor Post (Children & Families Pastor): taylor@ubcwaco.org
Toph Whisnant (Community Pastor): toph@ubcwaco.org
Jameson McGregor (Worship & Arts Pastor): jamie@ubcwaco.org