Posted by: smstrouse | June 10, 2011

Inclusive Language: Words Do Matter

Everyone wants to know when First United is going to decide whether or not to rejoin the ELCA. From the media to some of our own members, the question keeps getting asked. We had our annual meeting last week, so a new flurry of ‘So, did you vote?’ began.

So here’s the scoop. We have sent our revised constitution to the secretary of the ELCA, as required. Once he approves it, we can go ahead and schedule our vote. So far, no word from headquarters.

We are hoping it will be approved. But we also know that we did leave in some things that are not in the ELCA model. One of them is an issue near and dear to First United’s heart: the use of inclusive and non-hierarchical language. So we do not refer to God exclusively as ‘Father’ or to Jesus exclusively as ‘Son.’  In our “Toward a Statement  on Inclusive Language’  we state that in our worship:

God may be addressed as Lord or Lover, Father or Mother, Creator or Spirit, or even Goddess. We believe, however, that God is not limited even though our language is; the names change, the truth remains the same. Our words are products of time and history, the context in which we encounter God. But our God is timeless. We welcome your contribution to our many ways of calling forth the divine love that unites us all.

We did not feel that we should forego our own strong commitment to this issue, at least not without an attempt to make our case. So Chapter 2, line C2.01 of our proposed constitution says: “This congregation confesses the Triune God: Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier.

We shall see how that flies.



  1. Excellent–my first thought upon seeing the title was “oh–that’s sooo 25 years ago” (for First United, anyway). But in the context of the matter of potentially re-joining a larger church body, it’s–yet again–topical.


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