The “Reconciling in Christ” movement functions as an ancillary activity of Lutherans Concerned North America (LCNA), which is the well-organized and successful Lutheran LGBTQ advocacy group. From the LCNA website:
The Reconciling in Christ (RIC) Program recognizes Lutheran congregations that welcome lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) believers. The complete Reconciling in Christ Roster now exceeds 450 settings, including congregations, synods, colleges, seminaries, and other organizations.
Yesterday, January 30th, many RIC congregations celebrated their RIC status. What follows is a sampling of blogosphere comments from RIC folks around the country.
From St. Andrew Lutheran Church of Parsipanny, New Jersey.
About ten years ago, our congregation voted, UNANIMOUSLY, to adopt a statement that we would be open and welcoming to ALL people who seek to know Christ, regardless of any discriminating factor, including their sexual orientation or gender identity. We became part of a community of believers, affiliated with Lutherans Concerned/North America, to adopt this statement. By doing so, we became a Reconciling in Christ (RIC) Congregation.
This one of the things I love about my congregation. We voted unanimously to become RIC because it is part of the culture of who we are. There were no dissenters. We all knew this was the right thing to do. We were already living it; we should just say it out loud. All are welcome here.
[W]e really DO care. We DO care that you are here with us. We DO care that you feel welcome here. We DO care that you find a relationship with God and work to draw closer to Him. We DO care that you should not feel judged by the people here. We DO care that your gifts and talents are recognized and valued here. We DO care that you find fellowship with the other members of the body of Christ who worship here. We DO care…because you are a child of God… our brother or sister in Christ Jesus.
Not only for once a year on “Reconciling in Christ Sunday”…but for everyday! A message we at St. Michael’s proudly uphold:
“All Are Welcome, All Are Welcome, All Are Welcome…Welcome Here”
A South Carolina newspaper reported that Reformation Lutheran of Columbia is becoming rejuvenated, along with its inner city neighborhood:
… an influx of urban pioneers, many of them gay and lesbian, began buying up the arts-and-crafts cottages and other homes that had fallen into disrepair.
The congregation decided to reach out to its new neighbors but found that many were suspicious of the church. That’s when the congregation underwent a series of conversations that let it to become a congregation intentional in its mission and outreach. Now the church, with 150 members, is a vital part of the community.
My wife and I were privileged to attend the celebratory service at St. Paul-Reformation Lutheran Church in St. Paul, Mn. For those who know the history of LGBTQ advocacy within the ELCA, St Paul Reformation is an iconic congregation. It was the first RIC congregation dating to 1984. It is the parish of Pastor Anita Hill, a national figure in the ELCA movement toward gay inclusion. Other prominent members include the lesbian couple, Ruth Frost and Phyllis Zillhart, who made history in San Francisco nearly twenty years ago, and Emily Eastwood, the executive director of LCNA. Click here for an earlier post about the recent Rite of Reception for Hill, Frost, and Zillhart which officially welcomed them to the clergy roster of the ELCA. We greeted all of these folks yesterday. Frost delivered the sermon, her first since becoming rostered (her current call is to a hospice ministry), and she told me that she and Phyllis will return to their former San Francisco congregation on February 27th for an historic celebration in which the St Francis congregation, once expelled, will formally return to the ELCA.
I was honored to play a small part by addressing the adult forum. We discussed the apostle Paul’s struggle with the Jerusalem leadership of the early Jesus movement and their “yes, but” attitude toward Gentile inclusion in the early church and the parallels with the current struggle for full inclusion of the LGBTQ community.