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 Christ.

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 human sexuality.

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 gifts.

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.
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