Christians are known for many things.
In a book that surveyed people's perception of Christians, author David Kinnaman noted that two of top six things we're known for are: being anti-LGBT+, and being judgemental. In the years since Kinnaman's book was published it's safe to say that these perceptions are largely still accurate.
Tragically, these notions are not what Jesus said we should be known for.
All to often Christians are the ones pointing the finger, casting judgement, and calling others to repentance. We think it's our job to be the morality policy of the world, and the consequences of this judgemental posture are that many feel unwelcome, wounded, and unloved.
It was Jesus himself who said we should look to the plank in our own eye before we look to the speck in our neighbors', and few communities have been subject to the Church's judgment like our LGBT+ family. As an inclusive and affirming church, Oak Life has attempted to reverse these patterns as we seek to lament, confess, and repent of the ways we as the church needs grace first and foremost.
So, in what's becoming sort of a tradition at Oak Life, each year at Pride (either Oakland or SF), a group of us heads over to offer our apologies and ask forgiveness for the ways we or other Christians have hurt or rejected the LGBT+ community.
We hold signs that communicate both our confessions and love.
We confess the ways the church has rejected, oppressed, silenced, and cast aside so many people who bear the Image of God in their being.
We listen to stories of both pain and hope.
We pray for healing, reconciliation, and mercy.
And we proclaim that God's love is for everyone regardless of gender, orientation, race, or anything else.
Oak Life is by no means a perfect church, in fact we're pretty messy, but we take grace seriously, and we welcome everyone to our community.
Below are two videos that highlight our engagement at Oakland Pride in 2017. This year we'll be heading over again to Oakland Pride, and we'll even have our own booth! If you'd like to join us or have any questions, let us know!
If you've been hurt or judged by the church because or your gender, orientation, or anything else, we're deeply sorry. We need your forgiveness. Our prayer is that you'll encounter the God of love in your life even if the church has fallen short in reflecting that love.