A Statement by Christians attending the Fourth Fosdick
Convocation on Preaching and Worship -
The Riverside Church, New York City,
April 4, 1997
We have gathered here because we stand in the tradition of an
inclusive, embracing, and justice-seeking Gospel which calls us
to confront oppression and alienation in all forms. As the Body
of Christ we are called to be a model of healing and
reconciliation in the world.
We commemorate the prophetic tradition of Harry Emerson Fosdick
who embraced inclusivity through his ministry here at The
Riverside Church. We also gather recognizing that in this same
place just 30 years ago today, Martin Luther King, Jr. called us
to attend to justice not only in far away places, but also within
our own communities, our own churches, and within ourselves.
We decry the recent vote of the Presbyterian Church (USA) and all
efforts of Christian churches to exclude the full participation
of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and single heterosexual
people. As gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and heterosexual
people, we decry all such attacks on the fullness of humanity.
We acknowledge that when people are excluded from the church, we
dismember the very Body of Christ -- an act of corporate
self-mutilation and violence against God. We must gather
ourselves together that we might be a whole body. We must heal
this body rather than continuing in the sin of corporate
exclusion. As we deny parts of the body corporate, so we also
deny a piece of ourselves. And as we embrace the wholeness of
ourselves, we are freed to embrace the fullness of the body of
We must overcome our fear and embrace one another.
We come out of a tradition that has long wrestled with heresies
that split the material and spiritual -- idolizing the spiritual
and denigrating the physical. Yet, at the center of our faith
tradition is an incarnate God who came to us in bodily form.
Scripture declares that God became flesh in the person of Jesus
Christ. Jesus healed by physical touch, was revealed to us in
the breaking of bread, gave his body for the redemption of the
world, and rose from the dead in bodily form.
This witness not only values the human body, but celebrates it as
a vehicle of divine revelation. We reject all positions that
fail to take this tradition seriously and lament the alienation,
abuse, and injustice which is rooted in a fear of the body and
We affirm the goodness of the human body created in God s image
and proclaim our bodies to be joyful gifts from God. We affirm
that we are created by God to be in relationship with one
another; that these relationships should be characterized by
mutuality, commitment, respect, and love, regardless of sexual
orientation; that human sexuality is one of God s many good
As leaders in our churches, we will pray without ceasing. We
commit to work for the day when all can celebrate our bodies as
good and when the church will embody the inclusivity that Christ
intends. We pledge to stand in solidarity across denominational
lines with any church or persons targeted by such exclusive
policies and actions.
We call our colleagues in ministry to share this work that our
children might grow up worshiping God with both heart and mind,
both body and soul, that our churches might become true witnesses
to Christ through our unity in love.
Web publication of this document provided by the
Interfaith Working Group Online