As a multi-denominational seminary, Fletcher welcomes faculty, staff, and students from a variety of traditions. This means people in the Fletcher family may hold substantially different views on important theological issues like the nature baptism and holy communion, the meaning of salvation, and how best to structure denominations and church networks. These differing convictions on admittedly important matters might lead some to question why Fletcher has committed to LGBTQ inclusion – which has unfortunately divided many Christian denominations, organizations, and networks.
Fletcher’s Equal Opportunity Statement reads:
Jesse C. Fletcher Seminary is an equal opportunity entity that is committed to diversity and inclusion, and offers complete equality of opportunity to all qualified students without discrimination on the the basis of race, ethnic background or color, creed or religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability, genetic information, veteran status, sexual orientation, or any other basis as protected by federal, state, or local law.
All of our board, staff, and faculty have signed onto this statement. Some might ask why a seminary would even have to make plain that they will not exclude anyone, but there are many seminaries and religious institutions of higher learning that do discriminate in admissions and hiring practices based on a number of the above classifications and descriptors.
As Fletcher moves towards full ATS accreditation, we are preparing to be able to offer Federal financial aid to our students, which requires the adoption of a non-discrimination policy. Many seminaries (including every other one in San Antonio) have filed exemption requests appealing to religious freedom in order to discriminate against many who feel God has clearly called them to ministry.
Here, Fletcher Seminary wants to be very clear. We have not chosen to embrace inclusive policies because we want to be in the good graces of a secular government in a pluralistic society. No, the reasons are deeply ethical, and deeply biblical.
There are several reasons why Fletcher proudly affirms LGBTQ individuals, including:
Love and Compassion: As Christians, we are called to love and show compassion to all people, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. This includes affirming the inherent worth and dignity of LGBTQ individuals and recognizing that they are beloved children of God.
Inclusion and Diversity: The Church is a diverse community, and we should strive to create inclusive spaces where all people feel welcomed and valued. Affirming LGBTQ individuals is an important step towards creating a more inclusive and diverse Church.
Social Justice: Discrimination and marginalization of LGBTQ individuals is a form of social injustice, and as Christians, we are called to work for justice and equality for all people. Affirming LGBTQ individuals is a way to promote greater social justice and equity in our communities and society.
Biblical Interpretation: There is ongoing debate among Christians about how to interpret the Bible with regard to LGBTQ issues. However, many scholars and theologians (including all who teach for Fletcher) argue that a careful and nuanced reading of the Bible supports the affirmation of LGBTQ individuals. For example, they point to the importance of love, compassion, and inclusion in Jesus’ teachings, as well as the biblical emphasis on justice and equality for all people.
Human Dignity and Rights: LGBTQ individuals have the same inherent dignity and rights as all other human beings, and these should be respected and protected. Affirming LGBTQ individuals is a way to uphold their dignity and rights, and to promote greater equality and justice for all people.
Overall, affirming LGBTQ individuals is consistent with the core values of Christianity, including love, compassion, inclusion, justice, and respect for human dignity and rights. It is an important step towards creating a more just, equitable, and inclusive Church and society. Fletcher Seminary proudly has LGBTQ individuals serving on our board, on our staff, and in our student body, and we will continue to work for the inclusion of all God’s children in the Church, and at all levels of ministry leadership.
Select Resources For LGBTQ Inclusion in Ministry
There are now dozens if not hundreds of organizations regarding LGBTQ inclusion withing the Church. Below are links to a few organizations that provide resources for congregational use. This list is certainly not exhaustive, and is a small reflection of the many wonderful LGBTQ inclusion resources available to churches and people of faith.