A Start-Up Church?

On our home page, we describe that The Flame is a start-up church and alternative worshiping community.  So just what do we mean?

The Lutherans in Oregon recognized that, even though many churches are welcoming to the LGBTQIA community and church policies are changing to be more affirming, many of us are not interested or comfortable in “traditional churches”.  In order to provide LGBTQIA folks a supportive environment for building community and finding spiritual healing, this group was started. I was hired by the Oregon Lutherans to be both an advocate for the LGBTQIA community in traditional Lutheran churches, and to lead this start-up group.

I began by listening to the stories of the experiences of our community. I want to hear the experiences and feelings about faith, God, and the church; the good, the bad, and the ugly.  I have heard stories of churches rejecting our friends because of who they are. People have shared that their intellectualism or questioning was not allowed, and so they left the church. Some folks are newly interested in God.  Out of these conversations, some people expressed interest in gathering together.

We began meeting as a group in July, 2016. Each gathering included ways to build our community and explore the question of what it meant to be a group. We decided we wanted to build a worshiping community that was supportive and healing, as well as fun.  We chose a name, The Flame, formed a leader team, and decided to start a church.

We are still in the forming stages of our group identity, but it is starting to take shape. We are funded by the Lutherans, and I am particularly fond of Lutheran theology (although my MA in theology is from the Jesuits), but the group is made up of people from many different backgrounds.  As we state in our What We Believe, we don’t all have to have the same beliefs.  There are a variety of beliefs about God, and that’s okay.  We do talk about Jesus and the Bible, but I certainly don’t pretend to have all the answers.  All opinions are welcome, as long as we each respect each other’s beliefs.

The Flame is a beautiful experiment in practicing hospitality, justice, and care for one another in this wacky journey of life.  I hope you’ll come check us out some time.

In gratitude for each of you,

Leo Bancroft

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