Safe Harbor Family Church (UCC) is an inclusive, grace-filled community whose members and friends come from all walks of life - all races and ethnicities, young and old, LGB and straight, trans and cisgender, with and without disabilities, in recovery and allies - to grow in relationship with God, one another, and creation. As a community, we are committed to justice and advocacy for the hurt, the hungry, and the excluded. We trust in God, follow Jesus' teachings, and embody the Spirit in joyful celebration.
Our Purpose, Vision, and Mission
Safe Harbor's purpose is to provide an inclusive community for worshipping God, reaching out in love to our neighbors, and providing education that helps members and friends in their spiritual journeys.
As a United Church of Christ congregation,
Our purpose is: To love God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength and our neighbor as ourselves (Mt. 22)
Our vision is: United in Christ’s love, a just world for all.
Our mission is: United in Spirit and inspired by God’s grace, we welcome all, love all, and seek justice for all.
In 1995, Safe Harbor Family Church began through the efforts of twelve people who met over a picnic lunch spread on a quilt in a local park. They decided to form a church where all would be welcome, where friendships and spiritual growth could go hand in hand, and where they could learn about the grace and love of God. Over the years, Safe Harbor Family Church has grown from this group of twelve, who met in each others homes, to a thriving community of dedicated members and friends who meet the needs of a much larger community. In 2010, Safe Harbor became part of the United Church of Christ (UCC).
The United Church of Christ has a history of "firsts." As the national denomination's website states, "We were the first historically white denomination to ordain an African-American, the first to ordain a woman, the first to ordain an openly gay man, and the first Christian church to affirm the right of same-gender couples to marry. We were in the forefront of the anti-slavery movement and the Civil Rights movement. Our response to the demands of our faith is woven into the history of our country."
At Safe Harbor, we value diversity of thought and expression. Each one of us has a different story to tell, a different set of experiences to draw from, and a different context that informs our spiritual lives. We welcome these differences and think of them as one of our great strengths. No matter who you are, or where you are on life's journey, you are welcome here. Here are some starting points from the United Church of Christ:
We believe in the triune God: Creator; Christ, the sole Head of the church; and the Holy Spirit, who guides and brings about the creative and redemptive work of God in the world.
We believe that each person is unique and valuable. It is the will of God that every person belong to a family of faith where they have a strong sense of being valued and loved.
We believe that each person is on a spiritual journey and that each of us is at a different place in that journey.
We believe that the persistent search for God produces an authentic relationship with God, engendering love, strengthening faith, dissolving guilt, and giving life purpose and direction.
We believe that all of the baptized 'belong body and soul to Jesus Christ.' No matter who – no matter what – no matter where we are on life's journey – notwithstanding race, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, class or creed – we all belong to God and to one worldwide community of faith. All persons baptized – past, present and future – are connected to each other and to God through the sacrament of baptism. We baptize during worship when the community is present because baptism includes the community's promise of 'love, support and care' for the baptized – and we promise that we won't take it back – no matter where your journey leads you.
We believe that all people of faith are invited to join Christ at Christ's table for the sacrament of Communion. Just as many grains of wheat are gathered to make one loaf of bread and many grapes are gathered to make one cup of wine, we, the many people of God, are made one in the body of Christ, the church. The breaking of bread and the pouring of wine reminds us of the discipleship to which we are all called. In the breaking of bread, we remember and celebrate Christ's presence among us along with a 'cloud of witnesses' – our ancestors, family and friends who have gone before us.
We believe the UCC is called to be a united and uniting church. "That they may all be one" (John 17:21). "In essentials–unity, in nonessentials–diversity, in all things–charity." These UCC mottos survive because they touch core values deep within us. The UCC has no rigid formulation of doctrine or attachment to creeds or structures. Its overarching creed is love. UCC pastors and teachers are known for their commitment to excellence in theological preparation, interpretation of the scripture and justice advocacy. Even so, love and unity in the midst of our diversity are our greatest assets.
We believe that God calls us to be servants in the service of others and to be good stewards of the earth's resources. 'To believe is to care; to care is to do.'
We believe that the UCC is called to be a prophetic church. As in the tradition of the prophets and apostles, God calls the church to speak truth to power, liberate the oppressed, care for the poor and comfort the afflicted.
We believe in the power of peace, and work for nonviolent solutions to local, national, and international problems.
We are a people of possibility. In the UCC, members, congregations and structures have the breathing room to explore and to hear. For after all, God is still speaking...
Safe Harbor in the News
Nov 26, 2011: Inclusive Church offers Congregants Safe Harbor (Sioux City Journal)
July 29, 2013: Safe Harbor Pastor Responds to Pope Francis' Comments on Gay Priests (WAPT)
March 24, 2014: Safe Harbor Pastor and Dr. Shelli Poe Participate in We Do Campaign for Marriage Equality (Jackson Free Press)
June 27, 2015: Metro Area Churches Open to Performing Same-Sex Weddings (WLBT)
2015: Safe Harbor Shares its Open and Affirming Covenant (Open and Affirming Coalition, UCC)
Sept 15, 2015: Safe Harbor Member Shares Her Experience as a Trans Woman (Glaad)
December 22, 2017: Safe Harbor Calls Ann-Michele Rogers-Brigham as Pastor (Jackson Free Press)
Dec 25, 2018: Finding Faith at a Queer Church in the Bible Belt (Out)
May 29, 2019: Safe Harbor Welcomes Harvard Law Students (Southeast Conference, UCC)
Feb 4, 2020: Safe Harbor Holds MLK Service (Clinton Courier, page 2)
Feb 2, 2021: Safe Harbor Installs New Pastor (Clinton Courier, page 9)
June 15, 2021: Safe Harbor Pastor Publishes Internationally Acclaimed Book (Clinton Courier)
December 28, 2021: Pastor Poe Interviewed for Story on LGBTQ Youth in the South (Clarion Ledger)
Feb 15, 2022: Safe Harbor Hosts Ecumenical MLK Service (Clinton Courier)
April 3, 2022: Safe Harbor Featured at Trans Day of Visibility (Clarion Ledger)
April 21, 2022: PFLAG Meets at Safe Harbor (Mississippi Free Press)
May 16, 2022: Safe Harbor Pastor Responds to Anti-Trans News (Mississippi Free Press)