Expanding the Concept of Ekklēsia

Over the last week, my understanding of ekklēsia (church) has expanded. In four instances, I discovered the concept of ekklēsia in traditional and nontraditional settings: (1) a traditional church, (2) a lecture with a bunch of Baptists about LGBTQ+ inclusion and equality, (3) a conference with parents of LGBTQ+ children, and (4) a gay bar.

Before I tell you about those experiences, let’s define the term ekklēsia.  In the gospel of Matthew, Jesus declared after Peter’s bold proclamation that Jesus was indeed the Messiah, “and on this rock I will build my church” (16:18).

The term Jesus uses is ekklēsia, which means “an assembly, congregation, or church.” Further study reveals the word means more precisely “a people called out from the world and to God.” In other words, Jesus called his “church” a movement set apart from the world – or worldly systems – to create a new world filled with love, inclusion, justice and equality for all.

With that definition of the church in mind, I want to tell you about my four experiences, beginning with the traditional experiences.

Last Sunday, I attended my local church,

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