We are becoming a diverse community of sinners, saints, and skeptics who join God in the renewal of all things.
Becoming a diverse community Our goal is to become as diverse as the Kingdom itself. Since God shows no partiality (Acts 10:34, Galatians 2:6), and since all people are made in the image of God, our desire is to become a community in which black, white, and Latino, gay and straight, old and young, rich and poor, male and female are welcome to the table and invited to use their diverse gifts for worship and ministry. We want to be a witness to Birmingham and to the world that the Good News is for all people.
…of sinners, saints, and skeptics Martin Luther said that we are simultaneously sinners and saints, and it has been said that every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future. All of us have doubts. The first disciples followed Jesus before they ever came to believe in him, and in this community we emphasize following the way of Jesus even in the midst of doubt. Plenty of people believe, but do not act. Jesus invites us to act our way into believing.
…who join God in the renewal of all things. The Gospel is not just about getting our souls into heaven—it’s about getting heaven into our world. Salvation is about renewing our spirits, our bodies, our relationships, our schools, our neighborhoods, our society. The message of Jesus’ resurrection is that God is not through with us yet, that Jesus is still working in us, among us, and through us, and that he invites us to be part of God’s world-salvage project.
Since “the renewal of all things” is a big project, it helps to break it down. Jesus said that the greatest commandments were to love God and love our neighbor. We do this both publicly (as a community) and privately (as individuals and small groups).
We love God as a community through our worship, orienting our community life toward God. We love God as individuals and small groups through devotion, developing habits of the heart and mind like prayer, study, giving, and meeting together in small groups for encouragement.
We love our neighbor as individuals through acts of compassion. We do ministry with others in need, and we practice how to love our families, friends, and enemies better. We love our neighbor as a community through acts of justice. We address responsible stewardship of our planet, we advocate for peace, and we challenge systemic evil in our society.
Binding all of these together is our common witness. We act this way because we believe our best picture of God is the incarnation, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus. We extend the invitation to others—to you—to join God in the renewal of all things, and to live the abundant life God wants for all of us.
The word “witness” means both observing and telling. In worship, we both observe what God is doing among us and tell about it. In devotion, we draw our attention to what God is teaching us and how God is growing us; we look for answers to prayer. In service and justice, we both tell the story of God’s liberating love and live it out by helping others. All of that stuff is “witness.” Adding this fifth area reminds us of the importance of learning to talk about the grace we see active in our lives and the world around us. We are not just telling the Good News—we’re being the Good News.
For someone who is only mentioned once in the whole Bible (Romans 16:7), Junia sure was a threat to some people. Paul calls her “first among the apostles,” but some translators in the 1500′s were scandalized that a woman would be an apostle. So they changed her name to “Junias” in translation.
Later on, in the early 1900′s, different translators attempted to downplay her importance by translating the phrase as “well-known to the apostles”—again, because they couldn’t stand the thought of a female leader of the church.
We named our church “Saint Junia” because it is a reminder that God calls all people to leadership and service, regardless of age, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, or social status.