When we say all are welcome, we mean it. We also acknowledge it is a work in progress! Inclusion speaks to the universal truth that everyone has a place at the One Table of Life and Love. It is interwoven with our other core values – there is no justice without inclusion of all God’s people, and our spirituality emerges from the creative tension that exists between our desire to be inclusive and our work for justice. Whether you are young, old, conservative, liberal, atheist, a former Catholic, part of the 1%, married, “it’s complicated,” questioning, socially anxious, tone-deaf, a Yankees fan, differently-abled, gay, black, white, rainbow-colored, male, female, or neither – or some beautiful combination we haven’t met yet – you are welcome here.
The Three Campfires

We frequently use this metaphor to describe our Shadow Rock community:

You may find yourself wandering through the wilderness of life and stumble out of that wilderness into a clearing, a refuge, a sanctuary called Shadow Rock. In this clearing there are three campfires; a campfire for traditional theists, a campfire for non-theists, and a campfire for atheists. You can go to any of these campfires and you can sing songs, warm your hands, share your story and find good company. At the center of the clearing at an equal distance from each campfire is a table. It is the Table of Jesus. It is a table of grace, generosity, service, love and hope. It is the table where all are welcome. Once a month everyone is invited to put their beliefs on a shelf and leave them behind and join in unity around the Table of Jesus. Everyone shares bread and a cup where we act out our core values of inclusion, justice, and intimacy of spirit. It is an acting out of what the world is called to be. When we are done we go back to our campfires in the clearing of Shadow Rock having honored everyone’s journey.

Hear Shadow Rockers describe the campfire metaphor on YouTube.

Multiple Religious Belonging
People at Shadow Rock say things like….

  • I am an atheist and I cannot imagine my life without this church.
  • I am a Jew. You are my pastor and I have come to appreciate this guy named Jesus.
  • I am gay and I miss the old hymns.
  • I am Baptist and I want to be a part of your ministry of sanctuary to persons living under the threat of deportation.
  • I am a Catholic but I couldn’t do it anymore and I am so glad I found Shadow Rock.

Multiple Religious Belonging is not a goal. It is a reality. We are growing in strength and clarity in our identity as Shadow Rockers. We are a clan as part of the larger nation of the United Church of Christ. We are not the same in terms of content of beliefs but we are unified in our core values of inclusion, justice, and spirituality. We do not have the same understandings of baptism and communion but these communal acts speak of a shared vision of the world. Baptism is our celebration of inclusion. Communion is our celebration of justice. Our leaving our campfires to share at the One Table is our celebration of intimacy with each other and the Spirit of Life and Love. All of us suspend judgment in these communal acts. In the name of humility we put our opinions on a shelf and we share.

Open and Affirming / W.I.S.E.

Shadow Rock is an Open and Affirming congregation! 
Open and Affirming (or ONA for short) is the term used for United Church of Christ churches that publicly declare welcome and loving acceptance to people of all sexual orientations and gender expressions into the full life and ministry of the church including equal access to its sacraments and rites, pastoral care, worship, leadership, and employment.
The uniqueness and greatness of every life is radically affirmed.
Widespread discrimination and hostility (including violence) about the place of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people in our society has occurred for many years. In the midst of this, many churches proclaim that homosexuality and bisexuality are sinful. In fact, historically, church stances have fostered much of the discrimination. However, not all churches agree.  Those which believe that all sexual orientations and gender expressions are part of God’s good gift of sexuality are identifying themselves as communities of celebration, nurturing, and justice for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, their families and friends.

Our WISE Team (Welcome, Inclusive, Supporting, Engaging) is working on making Shadow Rock a place of welcome for people on a mental health journey. The WISE team is connected to NAMI and has a big mission to decrease mental health stigma and expand our practices of hospitality and care.

There’s a place for everyone at Shadow Rock! 

Shadow Rock United Church of Christ
12861 N. 8th Avenue | Phoenix, AZ 85029
Rev. Ken Heintzelman, Senior Minister


Church Office Hours:
Monday-Thursday 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Phone: 602-993-0050