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What can we learn from our megachurch neighbors? Part the Second

What can we learn from our megachurch neighbors? Part the Second

Denver Community Church averages as many as 1500 in weekly attendance across two locations. They are the latest evangelical church to become LGBT affirming. Photo courtesy of Denver Community Church
Denver Community Church averages as many as 1500 in weekly attendance across two locations. They are the latest evangelical church to become LGBT-affirming. Photo courtesy of Denver Community Church.

On 10 JAN we published the story, What can we learn from our megachurch neighbors? Today we have a story about one such large church. Because a quick perusal of their church’s website didn’t reveal any membership statistics, I’m not sure that they are actually a megachurch, but the average attendance on Sundays appears to be around 1500 between their two campuses. The rough definition of a megachurch is one with around 2000 regular attendees.

This church is Denver Community Church (DCC). It is defined as an Evangelical church, but not likely to meet the strict definition of an Evangelical Christian we experienced last weekend in the story about research in voting patterns during the 2016 presidential election by the Barna Group.

From their website;

Denver Community Church started when a group of people felt led to move to Denver to start a church that would be so involved in the community that the only appropriate name would be Denver Community Church. DCC first gathered together in the spring of 2001. The vision of DCC has always been to journey together following Jesus, and to demonstrate God’s love to all people.

Today, by the grace of God, DCC is alive and well, which is the heart of our story. Our story is still being told, but it is not just one story; it is hundreds of stories from hundreds of people – stories of life change, healing, redemption, justice, and joy. It is the story of the Church – not brick and mortar – but people who live out the reality of God being in our midst.

What may be of interest is that the Elder Team of DCC has been on a journey of discernment for the last 18 months regarding the inclusion of LGBT Christians in the life of their congregation. What may not be unique in that, is that they are joining an ever larger group of Evangelical pastors and congregations making such a journey. They team reports that when they began meeting two nights a month 18 months ago they were not all in agreement about LGBT inclusion. But they have been open-minded, willing to listen and prayerful in their approach to the subject with all sincerity. During the time of discernment, they listened to each other, scholars, LGBT folks from Denver and their supporters & allies, as well as straight folks who were not supportive of LGBT inclusion. Most importantly, they were committed to listening to the Holy Spirit. At the end of 18 months they Elder Team still wasn’t of one mind about LGBT inclusion in their congregation, but they were of one mind that they should go forward with including LGBT folks into the life of their church in all capacities; membership, ministry and leadership, or as we have said it in TEC, honor all of the gifts of all the baptized. They valued unity over uniformity. (Something Episcopalians/Anglicans might consider.)

After the Elder Team made its prayerful decision, each member assisted in the development of a video that was put up on the church’s Facebook page & YouTube channel. The video informs the members of the congregation of the Team’s decision;

In addition to the video, the Lead Pastor, Michael Hidalgo, prepared and offered a special teaching, “Our Continued Direction” to the congregation at their 22 JAN worship service. He used Eph 2:11 – 22. Perhaps a most important verse in that pericope is St Paul’s statement in verse 19;

Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household,
New International Version

In addition to last Sunday’s teaching, DCC has committed five Wednesday evenings, January 18-February 15, 6:30-8:30 PM, to study groups meeting in their Denver Uptown location. The first study group was 18 JAN, the Wednesday night prior to the Elder Team’s announcement and the Lead Pastor’s Sunday teaching. A video of that study group is here on DCC’s YouTube channel. The following four Wednesday night study groups will likely be available over the next few weeks on the YouTube channel as well.

I find this a very inspiring story about a congregation which entered into discernment concerning full LGBT inclusion in the life of their congregation. Many Episcopal/Anglican parishes, dioceses and provinces could learn from this example.

Facts for this story were gathered from a story on the Religion News Service. The videos are from DCC’s YouTube channel. The main photo is from DCC’s Facebook page.

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The Episcopal Café seeks to be an independent voice, reporting and reflecting on the Episcopal Church and the Anglican tradition.  The Café is not a platform of advocacy, but it does aim to tell the story of the church from the perspective of Progressive Christianity.  Our collective sympathy, as the Café, lies with the project of widening the circle of inclusion within the church and empowering all the baptized for the role to which they have been called as followers of Christ.

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