Who We Are

Opening Life Fellowship, an open and affirming progressive Christian community, welcomes all and seeks to provide a place of healing and reconciliation from previous wounds inflicted by faith communities.  Following the teaching of Jesus Christ, we work to connect on an interpersonal level, learn from each other, build lasting social relationships, and grow as individuals and in spiritual community. 

We connect pilgrims to support development in each faith journey as an integrated spiritual, social, sensory, physical, intellectual, and professional being – knowing we are continually developing in our faith journey. · 

We explore what it means to be human, including what it means to be sexually nonconforming, in a world that has often been unaccepting. · 

We strive to create a safe space to explore the questions of who we are and who we strive to be in relation to God. We also accept that, even within a “safe space,” it is sometimes necessary and valuable to work through the emotional challenges that may arise during this exploration. · 

We embrace diversity in the human experience, including but not limited to, race, ethnicity, culture, socioeconomic status, age, body type, health status, physical ability, education, financial circumstances, birth gender, gender fluidity, sexual orientation, beliefs, religious traditions, and spiritual practices. · 

We promote understanding, compassion, inclusion, trust, openness, fellowship, and collaboration.  

We strive to share these gifts both within our community and beyond, through the values of volunteerism, leadership, and − whenever mutually beneficial − mentoring. We believe that a volunteer’s willingness to take on leadership should be supported; learning to lead within Opening Life, fosters leadership qualities that can benefit both the person and the world beyond our organization. · 

We understand that all of us are at different places on our faith journey. To that end, we acknowledge that there are diverse theological views. We encourage and support the use of our God- given intellect and the ability to think critically, so we may learn from each other. We realize that we don’t have all the answers and that asking questions is the path to spiritual growth.   

What We Do

We aren’t just any community of people; we are a community of faith, which means we are a community in relationship with God through the trust and knowledge of who God is as revealed in Scripture and in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The following core practices are the driving force of Opening Life Fellowship . They help answer the question, "Why are we doing what we are doing?" They also answer the questions, "Who are we?" and "What's most important to us?"   

Worship 
"Worship the Lord with gladness; come into his presence with singing."(Psalm 100:2)

 Worship is at the heart of our life together at OLF.  Through a shared liturgy of Word and Sacrament that blends traditional and contemporary elements of worship, Opening Life invites all, in creative and faithful ways, to focus heart, soul, and mind to the Glory of God. While our liturgy leans towards the traditional, we remain open to the workings of the Holy Spirit.  In keeping with our inclusive spirit, we strive to use gender neutral language in all aspects of our worship.  

 Music is an important part of our worship at Opening Life; using a variety of musical styles, we sing praises to God with heart and voice. We believe it is a joy to worship God, and so we express that joy in our worship through warm greetings, praise, and laughter. In worship, we give glory to God and celebrate God’s goodness and grace. We believe we are not the only participants in worship though. God, through the Holy Spirit, is active in worship in the lives of each person gathered together, and God connects with us, challenges us, comforts us, and teaches us through Word and Sacrament. Worship gives us the fuel to be sent out into the world to share God’s love and grace. 

 Education and Critical Thinking
 "Teach them the statutes and instructions and make known to them the way they are to go and the things they are to do."   (Exodus 18:20) 

 As part of our Reformed/Presbyterian Heritage, we take seriously educational mission. We value, support, and participate in informational education, learning about the world and how it functions through the Arts and Sciences, business, leisure, and everyday activities. We value vocational education, developing and nurturing God-given talents in order to fulfill the vocation to which we have been called.   We also value transformational education, because we believe knowing God through the Word revealed (Jesus Christ), the Word written (the Bible), and the Word proclaimed (sharing the Good News) can transform hearts, minds, and lives. Our commitment to education centers on sharing our questions and experiences of our lives and faith journeys. By sharing our varied experiences, including our beliefs, our questions and our doubts, we learn how to strengthen our community bonds, gain wisdom from one another, and worship together in fullness and diversity.  We encourage critical thinking and honor the differences in opinion and belief that comes with freedom of thought. At Opening Life, we believe in using, stretching,and keeping open the amazing minds God gave us.

Mission/Outreach
"I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these siblings of mine, you did for me"  (Matthew 25:40)

  Opening Life does not exist for itself. Just as Jesus came not to be served, but to serve, we are called and gathered together by God to be sent out into the world as servants. We serve our local, national, and international community by sharing God’s love and grace. That may take the form of providing physical needs such as food, shelter, and clothing, but also providing for spiritual and emotional needs as well through ministries of comfort and care.

Community Fellowship
"They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers."  (Acts 2:42)

Community is central to the nature of God and therefore is central to the nature of and focus of our activities. The gospel is most clearly fleshed out in community. We strive to bring people together to enjoy each other as an expression of our developing faith in Jesus Christ. Our mission is also to provide nurturing pastoral care by supporting spiritual growth of the individual and the congregation as a community of faith. We support each other, pray for each other, learn together, challenge one another,laugh and cry with each other, and sometimes just have fun. We are a community brought together by Christ, and we enjoy fellowship with one another and with God through God’s mercy and grace. Fellowship happens through social gatherings, small groups, and activities, but also through our worship, education, and mission. We believe faith is a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. We value that relationship and try to model it in our relationships with each other. 

Inclusive Hospitality
Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. (Romans 15:7)

You are always welcome at Opening Life. That isn’t just a slogan; it’s a value and a promise. We want to invite, welcome, and include every single person who walks through our doors. Our hope is that no one could walk away from Opening Life without having felt the love of Jesus extended directly and personally to them. We want to always go the extra mile to make every visitor feel welcome and comfortable through personal, engaging, and loving encounters. Inclusive hospitality is not just something our first-time visitors experience; instead, we hope this is a mindset of every member that permeates all of our interactions with family, friends, co- workers, and community. We believe in accepting one another even though we may be very different and even believe different things. We are united in diversity. Because we are always welcome in God, you are always welcome here, no matter where you are on your journey of faith. 

Joy
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.  (Romans 15:13)

We have joy in God and we are not afraid to exhibit it. There is almost always laughter in a worship service. The pastor and the congregation are not afraid to laugh at themselves. We do not have to take ourselves so seriously because we have confidence of our identity in Christ. We take to heart the first question of the Westminster Catechism: “What is the chief end of humanity?” The answer is to “Enjoy God and glorify God forever.” At Opening Life, we enjoy our worship, education, mission, and fellowship. We are, and always want to be, a fun people, whose joy is apparent. That does not mean we do not lament, mourn, or struggle. We affirm these emotions and actions, but even in their midst, we remember the joy of God. Pain and sorrow may last the whole night long, but joy comes in the morning. Joy is constant, even in the pain, and is often made stronger because of pain. Joy is not based on happenstance; it is founded in the promises of God which are always faithful.