This last friday a worship service was held on our campus. It was advertised as an ecumenical event seeking to bring together Christians of all denominations and backgrounds together in worship. As one student at the event noted "We need to expand to include other ministries on campus. We can help and encourage one another no matter what the denomination." Unfortunately this picture is not quite accurate.
I've been involved in the last few years with a mainline campus ministry program called University Christian Ministries and while this common worship program is in it's second year UCM has never been invited to participate. So last spring I decided to be a bit proactive, seeking to become involved, trying to find the contacts necessary to participate in the event and it's planning. But I kept getting the run around over this last year. Finally I had a chance to talk to a leader of the event during the friday service.
I discovered that that we were not overlooked. Rather it was a conscious decision to not include us, because we weren't "biblical christians". What was a biblical Christian? Apparently someone who held to biblical inerrancy and a number of other evangelical beliefs. I imagine the rainbow flag at our campus ministry center or our interfaith work was not a plus in our favor. But it was a disconcerting moment. There was the dishonest way in which event was advertised.
And there was a painful reminder that being in the mainline today, especially if one is liberal, too often excludes one from the greater christian community. In this case the oldest campus ministry at my school was not allowed to worship with other christian groups. But such incidences have become the norm in our religious and political life, as the anglican drama suggests. What does it mean to identify with a tradition which has largely become dominated by folks that consider you an adversary?