When my wife and I moved from Upsala to Northfield in November, 2008, we left many church friends behind, not merely in our ELCA congregation in Upsala, but across the Northeast Synod of Minnesota where we had been active in many ways. We had frequently attended synod assemblies, which alternated between Duluth and Cragun’s resort near Brainerd, and Lynn served as WELCA synod president, board member, and parliamentarian for annual assemblies.
In Northfield, as members of Bethel Lutheran, we are now part of the Southeastern Minnesota synod of the ELCA, and we are learning our way around. I have attended several conference and synod gatherings, and Lynn and I will be voting members at this spring’s 2010 synod assembly.
So, it was with great interest and pleasant surprise when a news release crossed my desk from Lutherans Concerned North America (LCNA) which praised our new synod for its recently adopted statement of affirmation and inclusion. Turns out that the 2009 synod assembly voted to become a Reconciling in Christ (RIC) synod and to appoint a task force to craft an LGBT friendly welcoming statement. Our synod becomes the 24th synod of the ELCA to officially become RIC (out of a total of 65 synods nationwide). In a nutshell, the RIC movement is for synods, congregations, and individuals to become overtly gay friendly and welcoming.
The single element that is central to the program is the Affirmation of Welcome. It is simple, yet powerful in its witness … Making the Affirmation promotes a publicly inclusive ministry and helps heal the pain of doubt.
Here is the full statement of the SE Mn synod:
Affirmation of Welcome
Baptized into the waters of Christ and raised to new life by the strong word of God, fed and nourished by the body and blood of Christ, the people of God in the Southeastern Minnesota Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America decided in the 2009 assembly to be a Reconciling in Christ Synod. This synod, called by the Holy Spirit, is kept in unity with Jesus Christ in the one true faith. We are freely forgiven in Christ and we are in full service to one another. Whenever we meet in worship, prayer, deliberation and decision, as a large and diverse body of Christians, we recognize various ministries to ensure all people are welcomed into a transforming relationship with Jesus Christ. As baptized believers created in the image of God – including, but not limited to, people of every race, nationality, age, political affiliation, marital status, gender identity, economic or social status, sexual orientation, mental and physical abilities – our synod welcomes all people of all backgrounds to become Christ’s devoted disciples.