For too long now, people have used religion as a weapon or tool to justify their own narrow agendas. Raised as a Christian, I was taught that God was loving and merciful. Jesus wanted us to welcome and embrace our neighbors no matter who they are, and open our homes and hearts to strangers in need. Too many so-called Christians spread messages of hatred and division, using the moral justification that Christianity provides for power and control, whilst acting in ways which are completely anathema to the teachings of the Gospel.
Clackamas United Church of Christ is reclaiming the original, inclusive message of Christ by practicing what they preach. Pastor Adam welcomes all to his sermons with love and acceptance regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation or any other the other ways we choose to divide ourselves as human beings.
"God loves you relentlessly and eternally because God is love," is one of Pastor Adam's core principles. The fact that this kind of open-hearted approach is going viral, as opposed to simply being the norm, tells you everything about the direction that many churches have taken. The Pastor's signs preach a loving and progressive worldview that, for me at least, is what Christianity should be all about.
Scroll down to see how Clackamas United Church of Christ choose to spread the Word of the Lord, and let us know what you think in the comments!
"I came to the Clackamas United Church of Christ about a year and a half ago and realized that we needed to get our message out into the neighborhood," Pastor Adam told Bored Panda. "People saw our building, but didn't know what our values were. So we started a fundraiser for the sign and I started posting those messages. People began to stop as they drove by to thank me for the messages. But I didn't know it would have an online impact, too."
"Amidst the pain of the world and all the hate, people are thirsty for something deeper. The truth of the Gospel is that all people are loved. The sin is when we start treating certain people and groups as if they are not loved. Jesus was most critical of those who used religion as an excuse to marginalize others. We are merely seeking to follow Jesus in the best way we can."
When Pastor Adam arrived at the United Church of Christ, regular numbers were down to around only 30 or so people. "I’m convinced that one of the many reasons people aren’t coming to church, churches like ours, is because they don’t know that we’re there and they don’t know our message," he said. "So I thought, how are we going to get the message out?" It was then that the church held a fundraiser so that they could buy the message board.
"I decided that we needed to be bold with our message of love and inclusion, especially for those who are marginalized especially by religion. My goal is is to be part of a larger movement that is reframing or redefining Christianity so that it's based on God's love for all people, but especially those who are marginalized."
Adam's message is getting through. He has received widespread support in the community from all areas, from fellow Christians to members of other faiths and atheists alike. "There are so many of us who are trying to get this message out and whether we do it in the name of God or the name of humanity or the name of God and humanity -- I say amen, let's do this."
"I just want people to know that God loves them and we love them and we’re for them. It sounds so cheesy but that’s the basic message!"
Other, more conservative Churches in the area have been generally accepting of the new direction at the United Church of Christ,and Adam says that negative reactions have been extremely rare. "One guy stopped as I was changing the sign and told me I didn't understand the Bible," he told us. "But that's been most of the criticism. Everyone else honks, or says 'great job!' It's been very supportive."
"There is a big movement, not just in my generation but in all generations, of people looking for a more inclusive faith. We find it in Jesus."