In 2009, Highlands Church was founded upon the belief that when God created the world, and human beings in particular, God said, “This is good.” Our origin story is one of goodness. We believe this goodness applies to all of humanity, regardless of gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, race, abled or differently-abled bodies. As Father Richard Rohr says, “We cannot create our union with God. It is objectively already given. There’s nothing we can do or not do to increase or decrease God’s love for us.”
We believe God’s welcome into love is extravagant, and for all. Extending this welcome is the desired outcome for the mission to which we are called: to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God. We believe that when we embody this mission, we will be an extension of God’s welcome in the world.
Most churches in America make an exception to the full embrace of God by excluding LGBTQ-identifying individuals. From our evangelical roots, the full inclusion of LGBTQ people was a radical departure. We set out to embody a “new normal” of what a church family should look like – LGBTQ and Straight individuals and families worshiping and learning together in shared community.
This work requires theological education (the dismantling of erroneous interpretations and applications of six scripture references in the Bible). It requires intentional representation through centering the stories of LGBTQ people, and listening to LGBTQ theologians and artists. Finally, it requires shared power through leadership at all levels within the Highlands leadership structure.
As Highlands Church leans more heavily into the work of racial justice, we will continue to work towards a “new normal” within our community, identifying and dismantling white supremacy culture as it exists within our systems and structures. A “new normal” requires us to provide education on the establishment and perpetuation of racism in order to maintain white privilege. It requires us to center the stories of People of Color, and to listen to the perspectives of POC theologians and artists. It requires us to share power through leadership at all levels with an integrity which does not favor white privilege. Read our Statement.
Highlands Church absolutely and unequivocally denounces racialized violence countless black and brown men and women have suffered over the history of our country. The loss of life is cause for deep lament, and we as a faith community stand in solidarity with those who have lost loved ones, with those who are seeking justice, and with those who are advocating for drastic and overdue change. This is consistent with the God revealed in our holy text, who in both the Jewish and New Testament scriptures disrupted established institutions for the sake of justice.
Our starting point in the story of God is that all humans were created in love and for love. There is no hierarchy of value for a human life. But when dehumanization occurs, especially in the form of violence, we must turn again to Christ, who taught us that what we do to the most vulnerable, we have also done unto him. And we must ask for guidance from the Spirit as we critically examine ourselves, our institutions, our beliefs, and our practices which retain and perpetuate expressions of violence against non-white bodies.
For more than ten years, Highlands Church has sought to answer the call to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with God. We will continue to take care of those who are harmed by unjust systems. We will insist on fairness for all people. We will remain loyal to those who have no voice. We will oppose authority when those in charge abuse their power. We will hold sacred the bodies of black and brown people. We will work for justice until there is true liberty for all.
This is an essential part of our work as followers of the One who came and suffered in solidarity with the oppressed and marginalized, and who gave as the most important of all the commands: to love God, love our neighbors, and love ourselves.
Our Ethos, and the community formed from its values, hold us accountable to this kind of radical inclusion.
We are proud to be a partner of W/ – a community of faith leaders and communities who share these values.