A Church that Welcomes Everybody (LGBTQ+)

So anyone who thinks that he has understood the divine scriptures or any part of them, but cannot by his understanding build up this double love of God and neighbor, has not yet succeeded in understanding them.

– Augustine, On Christian Doctrine

First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Fort Smith is an open and affirming congregation. This means we understand that the church should be a place where all people are welcomed to join a community of grace, love, and forgiveness. We are committed to being a people of grace who welcome all of God’s children regardless of differing in race, gender, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, class, income bracket, nationality, ethnicity, marital status, physical or mental ability, political stance or theological perspective. We affirm the faith, baptism, and spiritual gifts of all Christians and celebrate that all people are part of God’s good creation.

My hope for all people in the LGBTQ+ community here in Fort Smith is that you would be fully supported on matters of justice. You deserve a church that is on your side, and your full identity is worth upholding and fighting for. At the same time, I hope that you will not be essentialized or treated as a demographic for your sexuality here at First Christian Church. You are valuable and worthy of grace as a full person. You are not a “gay Christian,” you are a Christian who happens to be gay. Below are some resources and answers about who we are and where our commitments are at. Please do look through them and reach out via phone, email, or by coming to worship with us.     

– Rev. Nick Koontz

A Few Helpful Answers:

What is an Open & Affirming Congregation?
Open & Affirming (O&A) churches strive to be welcoming places, places that welcome you whatever your skin color, accent, clothing, or the gender of your spouse. An O&A church seeks to welcome all people without judgment and to provide a welcome that honors and accepts the diversity that is the image of God in creation. An O&A church works to ensure that when we say ‘all are welcome,’ we truly mean everyone.

Do you perform LGBTQ+ weddings?
Yes. Please see our wedding policies on our Resources & FAQs page. We welcome all Christian weddings regardless of sexual orientation.

Doesn’t the Bible condemn homosexuality?
In short, not so much. While the Bible does have a handful of passages referring to gay folks, the majority of them have either been mistranslated or stripped from their context. They have been cherrypicked by folks with an agenda, not read as a straightforward look to scripture. Here is a helpful handout walking through each verse cited as condemning homosexuality. Likewise, there are considerable resources available that can walk you through a deeper understanding of the Bible and homosexuality. You can also find a great, short youtube video about it here. Keep in mind, too, that finding verses that supposedly condemn gay people amidst the entire Bible’s witness to love, welcome, and care for those who have been pushed to the edges of society is like finding a needle in a hay stack. If you’re reading the Bible and take away more hate towards your neighbors, you have misread it.

So is this just about LGBT people?
Not at all. Because many people still believe that God rejects LGBTQ+ people, we have started by more fully opening the doors to LGBTQ+ people. However, we understand that no one is truly welcome until we understand that God welcomes everyone. There is no sin, no lifestyle, and no condition you can find yourself in that is beyond God’s limitless love.