St. Paul Lutheran Church

Oakland, CA

Theological Perspective

This congregation acknowledges that it is a community of individuals called and gathered together by God in this location to serve the people of God. We also acknowledge that as God has blessed us, so we are sent to be a blessing to other people. Believing as we do that salvation is a freely given gift from a loving God, and believing that this gift is intended for all people, we therefore declare our intention to seek, welcome, and involve persons of every race, socioeconomic status, background, religious background, age, and lifestyle in activities, programs, and groups of the congregation.

We affirm that we are sincere in our intent to be all-inclusive in our ministry and in the sharing of the Good News of God's unconditional love and acceptance in Jesus Christ. Confessing that the Church has often isolated, rejected, and inflicted pain upon certain groups and individuals we therefore express a commitment to reach out to every person and group, but especially do we declare our intention to be an open, accepting community for those who have traditionally been alienated from, or rejected by, the Church.

Martin Luther once declared that "we are all beggars telling one another where to find bread". Such an outlook breaks down our tendency to create and sustain "in-groups" and "out-groups" and reminds us that we are called to share God's love with any who will listen. Our desire to be inclusive, therefore, is not to be understood as being motivated by self-righteousness nor is it to be seen as patronizing in nature. Rather, all we do is motivated by a desire to share The Gift: complete life, joy, and hope as revealed in Jesus Christ. It is to be understood that this direction in ministry grows out of our desire to be truly the whole people of God that, in fact, we already are through God's action.

We proclaim a desire to be enriched by individual and collective experiences, insight, and awareness. Some examples are: the trauma of the refugee newly arrived in this country, a gay person struggling with self-acceptance and personal integrity, or a divorced person dealing with the issue of loneliness. We desire to listen and learn, to give and to receive, to share together. We recognize and desire the richness and insight that is to be gained from such a common sharing.

We also affirm that part of our ministry is speaking out on behalf of those who are powerless, oppressed, and discriminated against. We believe that such advocacy is consistent with the clear witness of the scriptures. As Jesus Christ intercedes on our behalf, so we are called upon to intercede on behalf of others in the social, political, and religious arenas of our society.

We believe that salvation by God's grace in Jesus Christ is about the business of bringing healing and wholeness to broken humanity. The clear proclamation and servant action of the Gospel is to be addressed to all of God's people. In these days of deepening fragmentation of the human family there are no more important tasks to which the body of Christ is called, in its proclamation of the Gospel, than to be inclusive and to be an advocate for justice.

We ask God to bless us with the guidance of the Holy Spirit as we seek to live out our calling to be proclaimers of the Good News.