Our Church Covenant calls for us to seek where God is at work in the world and join in that work.  While we struggle to know what God is up to and to discover ways to join that work, it seems to us that a great deal of God’s work in the world today can be described with the word “hospitality.”  By this we mean an intentional reaching out, across customary boundaries and contrary to our usual practices to create an environment where all God’s creatures are welcome and feel at home.   Hospitality is not a theory or a theological position…it’s a practice and we aim to practice it until our hands are sore.


While it is possible to commit individual acts of hospitality which are worthwhile, a deep commitment to it involves looking more deeply into systems and processes in our congregation and in the larger society which can foster or diminish hospitality.  


Our efforts to extend hospitality include:

Care for those who are marginalized.  One of the most clear practices of Jesus described in the Bible was his consistent and disturbing care for the marginalized; the lepers, the emotionally unstable or mentally ill, the physically challenged, and a wide variety of people who were socially marginalized.  Our culture gets straight A’s when it comes to marginalizing people.  As a founding congregation for Room In The Inn, we are intentionally, and regularly, hospitable to those who live on the streets of our city.  As an early adopter, among Baptist churches, of progressive practices regarding women in ministry we have practiced the “equality” part of our congregational mission by encouraging women toward significant leadership roles for more than 40 years.  As a Welcoming and Affirming congregation, we recognize the need to be intentionally hospitable to those who are marginalized because of their sexual orientation.  Through the “Other Sheep” ministry founded and lovingly pursued by one of our members we practice hospitality to those suffering from AIDS.

A partnership since 2000 with a church in Santa Clara, Cuba.  This is not a typical “mission” relationship where a North American congregation works to help a downtrodden group in Cuba see the light as we see it.  Instead, it’s a long-standing relationship based on mutual learning and support of one another.  As the law has allowed, a member of our partner church in Cuba has visited with us and 46 members of our congregation have visited with them.  The purpose of these visits is so simple that the US Government, at times, has given us a hard time about it.  Our purpose is friendship and mutual support in faith. No trying to make them be like us, or vice versa.  Just friendship and support.  Every Glendaler is encouraged to consider taking part in hosting members of our partner church for trips to visit us as well as traveling to Santa Clara to visit our friends at Alberto J. Diaz Baptist Church and support our Cuba partners through prayer and other means.

Efforts to become increasingly ecologically sensitive.  There’s nothing “hospitable” about an environment which is hostile to continued life—so, as a congregation, we are working toward making our own church house carbon neutral.  Over the next several years we hope to add to our current recycling program:  the use of solar panels, judicious use of heating and cooling systems, and aggressive insulation systems on our property to produce at least as much energy as we consume.  And, of course, we intend to communicate what we learn about how to do this to our families and to our employers so that our homes and workplaces become increasingly hospitable to life on the planet.

We are also increasingly aware of the inhospitable health environment created by the current industrial agricultural complex.  In particular, the effects of government subsidies for health-harming foods which are aimed at the poor disturb us greatly.  Actually, we find this system despicable and are deepening our efforts to resist it in every way we can.  This includes partnering with other local organizations with similar concerns (such as Luke 14:12 and other food distribution programs), using our church property to grow food for ourselves and others, buying local and fair trade food, and gardening at home as we are able.

We are “joiners.”  We know that “joining” an organization and giving money to it is no substitute for the actual practice of hospitality, but we also recognize that partnering with others who have similar commitments helps us consider our own practices more carefully, to learn from others, and to encourage others.  Consequently we intentionally affiliate ourselves with the Alliance of Baptists, the Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America, the Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists, and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.

-Hospitality, formerly Missions, Ministry

Caveat: We are aware that the word “missions” is steeped in colonialist meanings which render it less than helpful for our current practices; it’s a word that carries all the weight and freight of manifest destiny, American imperialism, and globalization.  We seek to own our own tendencies to wrongly presume we know how everyone else in the world should believe and behave and we seek to extend ourselves humbly in hospitality and mutuality.