Jen Tota McGivney’s piece in Charlotte Magazine on Park Road and its pastors is a really wonderful gift to this church. In a few words she describes so well the heart and soul that is Park Road. As is described in the article, there has been always been a distinctive seed of independence and a willingness to dissent from conventional wisdom central to the heart of this good church.
Amy and I are the beneficiaries of that independence as much as we are the leaders of such a spirited congregation. And the church has afforded us the opportunity to share Park Road’s distinctive voice with the community via our blog, Still Christian for a Reason.
Through the blog, we share the life and spirit of Park Road which is historically Baptist - although most people don’t understand what that means. Baptists have always been a bit cantankerous, breaking away from those who broke away from the Church of England – in absolute insistence on individual and church freedom, the right to stand confidently, but alone, before God, and to determine one’s own destiny in a voluntary community of likeminded souls.
So, while most Baptists are theologically conservative, some Baptists have always been among the most liberal thinkers of their day. Give people a chance to think, and some of them will. And some of those who think, will be willing to challenge the status quo! You will find that willingness to challenge convention reflected in our writings as well.
In 1979 the Southern Baptist Convention began to feel the pains of schism, and the last 35 years of Baptist life have been marked by conflict and discord. Amazingly, Park Road has stayed together, committed to the idea that uniformity of belief is not what should hold us together - in fact, such a conformity would be contrary to that Baptist spirit!
As a result, Park Road exists as a Christian community, dedicated to openness and individuality, and committed to being community, even within a community that is diverse in theological and political convictions.
Park Road isn’t “the gay church” and doesn’t seek to be “the radical church” – we just want to be the Church. We believe that the life and example of Jesus lead us in our determination to be fiercely independent and open to all who will come. In a day of religious divisions, within the Christian family as well as across faith traditions, we believe that a community of inclusion and an intentional fellowship of diversity is sorely needed.
Park Road’s convictions are based in the Love of God and the Way of Jesus, so we are a Christian community, though we celebrate the beauty and mystery of a God – who cannot be fully defined by any single religious or philosophical expression. We actively pursue interfaith relationships, and opportunities to experience the spirit of God, even with those whose traditions greatly differ from our own.
Park Road has always directly addressed the social issues of its day, never shying away from difficult topics. Today that brings us into conversation about race and sexuality, biomedical ethics and economics – and we believe the dialogue is so important. This blog is one of many important ways we share our thoughts, ideas, opinions, and aspirations for the Church.
Everyone is welcome to participate through this blog in a respectful dialogue, without a requirement that we all agree on all topics. Please join us with your experience or your lack of experience with church, with your affirmations and your questions, with your convictions and your doubt.
The Love of God and the Way of Jesus are our guides, and we’d love to have you along on the journey.
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