Monday, February 28, 2011

Living Lutheran news

Have you checked out the Living Lutheran website? It's chock full of stories of Lutheran individuals and congregations from all across the ELCA. You may remember that it featured a story about St. John Lutheran Church in Atlanta and their emergency freeze shelter. There's a story up there now about board member Olivia-Beth Horak and her involvement with the chuch.
As she reflects on what she’s done and where she wants to go, Olivia-Beth believes her identity as a Lutheran and a bisexual are central to her vocation and call in life.

Photo courtesy of LivingLutheran.com
She is an active member of Lutheran Campus Ministry at UT-Austin where she also works with Lutherans Concerned for North America and is the advocate for Diversity and Service Learning for the Lutheran Student Movement. An internship as a therapist for high-risk high school students recently ended.
Glad to see you featured yet again by the ELCA, Olivia-Beth!

See an article about LC/NA, RIC congregations, or members? Tell us by comment or email so we can share it!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Spirit of Hope and Lakeridge Lutheran

Spirit of Hope Lutheran Church adopted an affirmation of welcome early in 2008 and we are thrilled that they've decided to join us as a Reconciling in Christ congregation!

Formed by the merger of Faith Memorial Lutheran Church and Trinity Episcopal Church in 2006, Spirit of Hope sits at the intersection of the Corktown, Core City and Woodbridge neighborhoods of Detroit, Michigan. Along with their intentional work of welcome to all people, especially their anti-racism work, Spirit of Hope hosts an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, food pantry and soup kitchen, preventative work against STIs including HIV/AIDS, and an urban farm. Wow!

We are also proud to introduce Lakeridge Lutheran Church of Seattle, WA.

Lakeridge partners with several local ministries including ARISE: Area of Renton Interfaith Service Endeavor, a veteran's center, emergency feeding program, and co-sponsors Luther's Table. This cafe serves the local community by providing a place to share stories, share your authentic self, and find a place in the community together. We encourage you to check both of them out. Welcome, welcome!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Upcoming Trainings

Looking for a way to get more involved in the Welcoming Church movement? Attend one of our trainings this March!

For a detailed description of Building An Inclusive Church trainings look here, but to summarize: Building an Inclusive Church trainings get lay and rostered leaders of the Lutheran Church (and any other religious traditions) ready to do the work of inclusion in their communities. They cover faith based community organizing, scriptural engagement, strategic storytelling, and the Reconciling in Christ process. Participants are provided with helpful resources and meet others in their area doing similar welcoming work. It's a time to grow spiritually, to learn about one another and to get pumped up to do the work of inclusion at home.

Details for the next two trainings follow:

--------------------------------------------
Building An Inclusive Church - Overland Park, KS

Hosted by: LC/NA, the Institute for Welcoming Resources, and other welcoming programs
The event will start on: Friday, March 04, 2011, 12:00PM
And will end on: Sunday, March 06, 2011, 3:00PM
At Atonement Lutheran Church
9948 Metcalf Ave, Overland Park Kansas
651-665-0861 rossm@lcna.org

Lodging
Participants are responsible for reserving their hotel rooms. We recommend the following hotel near the church:

Extended Stay Deluxe - Kansas City - Overland Park - Convention Center 7201 W. 106th Street
Overland Park, KS 66212
(913) 642-2299

One of the resources given
out at trainings, the BIC booklet
walks congregants through the
RIC process at the right
pace for their church.
Airports Kansas City International Airport (MCI).

Food
Meals will be nutritious and tasty. Please note dietary restrictions on your registration form.

Fees
Registration, including meals and materials: $85.00

Scholarship ($85.00) available upon request to cover registration with hosted housing if necessary. Travel is on your own or up to local hosts. Written information of need should accompany registration via email to RossM@lcna.org or postal mail to LC/NA, PO Box 4707, Saint Paul, MN 55104.
Donations for sponsorship of a scholarship ($85.00) or portion thereof ($10.00–$75.00) for this or another Welcoming Church Program Training will be gladly accepted. Please mark on registration form.

Registration
March 4—6, 2011
Atonement Lutheran Church
Cancellation fee: $25. No refunds after February 18, 2011.

--------------------------------------------

Building An Inclusive Church - Glendale, CAHosted by: LC/NA
The event will start on: Saturday, March 19, 2011, 9:00AM
And will end on: Saturday, March 19, 201, 5:00PM
At: St Matthew's Lutheran Church
1920 W Glenoaks Blvd, Glendale CA
651-665-0861 rossm@lcna.org


Registration deadline
Friday, March 4, 2011

Lodging
Participants are responsible for reserving their hotel rooms. We recommend the following hotel near the church:

Holiday Inn Hotel Burbank-Media Center
150 E. Angeleno
Burbank, CA 91502
(818) 841-4770

Learn about the Reconciling
in Christ process and how it
can positively affect
your community!
Food
A light continental breakfast, lunch, and snacks will be provided. Meals will be nutritious and tasty. Please note dietary restrictions on your registration form.

Fees
Registration fee is being generously supported by the Los Angeles chapter of Lutherans Concerned/North America. Registration includes the training, all materials, and the meals detailed above.

Registration
March 19, 2011 (one day)
St. Matthew's Lutheran Church
Glendale, CA

Registration deadline: March 4, 2011.

--------------------------------------------

At both trainings each participant is requested to obtain and read a copy of Doing Justice: Congregations and Community Organizing by Dennis A Jacobsen. This book, available online for about $14 from Amazon, will enable you to understand more quickly the organizing concepts used in the training.

Additionally, if finding accomodations is a barrier for you, limited host housing is possible on a first-come, first-served basis. Every effort to assist with transportation to and from the church will be made, but cannot be guaranteed. Participants requesting host housing should check the box on the registration form indicating that request. If needed, ground transportation to and from host housing will be provided.

We hope that some of you can attend. Even if you can't, invite others who may be interested! We'd be happy to meet new folks.


Monday, February 14, 2011

This is what welcome looks like

Reconciling in Christ congregations may be required to include LGBT people by name in their statements of welcome, but many make sure to open their hearts and doors to other marginalized populations in their communities. St. John's Lutheran Church in Atlanta has been doing just that; it is now into its second winter running a freeze shelter out of the building.

Jeanette Burgess, a member of the congregation, writes that the shelter goes into effect when the thermometer drops below freezing and typically houses 16 people. So far this year the shelter, run by 35 volunteers in all, has been open 10 nights. Pastor Bradley Schmeling reflects,
“We started out providing shelter and a warm bed, but what we discovered is that we were creating community ... The homeless have now become our friends, and it’s been transforming to cross that boundary,” says Bradley. “We are not a more faithful church because we provide beds, but we are more faithful because we’ve risked getting to know one another.”
What an inspirational ministry. You can read more about their experience at The Living Lutheran.

Have a story about your congregation's ministries? Tell us about it!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Break The Silence

If you're going to be in New York City on February 20th, our friends of the Believe Out Loud campaign invite you to attend:

BREAK THE SILENCE
A concert in NYC for LGBT Equality

"Three renowned Gay & Lesbian Choirs seek to end Christian discord by performing together for the first time in church. The concert will take place in New York City at one of the oldest Christian institutions in the United States--Marble Collegiate Church--and hosted by Intersections International. Choirs include:

Anna Crusis Women's Choir: the country's longest running women's choir
New York City Gay Men's Chorus: a 250 all men's chorus
Lavender Light Gospel Choir: LGBT choir with special ministry to African-Americans

Date: February 20th at 3:00pm.
Location: Marble Collegiate Church, 3 W. 29th Street, New York, NY 10001

Tickets: $20.00 in advance; $15.00 for groups of five or more; and $25.00 at the door.
To purchase your ticket(s) today, visit our website."



The concert will benefit the Believe Out Loud campaign, "a trans-denominational movement to promote LGBT-inclusion in the Christian church. A collaborative project of leading religious and secular LGBT organizations, Believe Out Loud is managed and organized by Intersections International."

Port Jervis celebrates welcome

In Upstate New York, St. Peter's of Port Jervis was featured in the Times-Herald Record in an article about their adoption of the Reconciling in Christ status. Interviewing various members of the congregation about the celebration of their RIC label, a reporter asked Winnie Aumick her thoughts because,
"That's pretty bold stuff for Port Jervis... The West End native, who's been a Lutheran all her life, said, "The church is a house of God for everyone. Period. As a Christian, you need to be friendly, to help if you can. We're all in this together."

Fellow choir member Paul DeStefano, 17, seconded that. "If you're a Christian, you need to accept everyone. That's what being a believer means."

During the service, the congregation remembered the wrongs the Christian church and its followers have done to their gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender siblings, and affirmed their decision to be welcoming and affirming into the future. Kate McDonough, of the ELCA's NY Metropolitan Synod's Gay and Lesbian Commission, said the congregationn "today has opened its heart and doors to the gay community. This is an important, godly day." We know they will continue to open hearts and doors.

Thank you, St. Peter's, and congratulations again!

**NOTE: The article states that St. Peter's is the first RIC congregation in Upstate NY. St. Peter's is the first in their area, but not in Upstate.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

RIC Sunday with the Metro Portland Chapter

The following is a guest post from Vicky Charlston of the Lutherans Concerned/Portland Metro Chapter. Vicky shares her experience of the chapter’s worship celebration of Reconciling in Christ Sunday.

“We Shall Overcome Someday…”

We sang this verse as part of the seventh RIC worship service sponsored by the Portland Metro Chapter of Lutherans Concerned/North America. Lutherans from Northwest Oregon and Southwest Washington gathered for the RIC Sunday celebration at First Immanuel Church in Northwest Portland. Pastor Megan Rohrer preached and spoke of the beginnings of Lutherans Concerned thirty-six years ago around the same time that a group of gay youth in San Francisco yearned for a Lutheran worship service where they felt safe and welcome.


Pr. Megan Rohrer preaching the Gospel

The service was a time of remembering how far the ELCA has come in its relationship with the GLBT community and how far is left to go before everyone feels truly welcome in our churches.

Megan also spoke of the ELCA pastors who were called to serve even though they were gay and partnered and how they were subsequently dismissed from the ELCA. Many of them, along with Pastor Rohrer, were recently welcomed back by the ELCA in Rites of Reception and reinstatements over the past few months. Yes, “We Shall Overcome Today…”


Some time for fellowship with Pr. Rohrer and Regional Coordinator Paul Jolly

Pastor Rohrer spent Saturday with chapter members and friends as well. At a catered dinner at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Vancouver, WA, she spoke at length about how she ministers to those who can’t (or won’t, or simply don’t) come inside the church walls. By coordinating community gardens and feeding homeless people in San Francisco as well as by listening to their needs, she creates community with them. Megan continued her story at the adult education class on Sunday morning at Central Lutheran Church in Portland.


Captivated listeners as the RIC celebration continues!

One person summed up the weekend this way: “Megan’s story, from her growing up in South Dakota through her recent reception in July onto the ELCA roster as a transgender Lutheran pastor, brought tears to my eyes—tears of frustration for what was endured and tears of joy for what was accomplished. Add her incredible ministry to the street people in San Francisco and her new venture into community gardening, and I was left with a sense of ministry that meets people where they are and provides what they need. What a “wow” experience.”

Thanks to Vicky and to Jim Morrell for providing the blog post and accompanying images! To hear Pastor Rohrer's sermon, visit http://sermon.net/sfwelcome/sermonid/2598159 (sorry, no transcription is currently available). If you’d like to learn more about the Portland Metro Chapter, sign up for their mailing list.



A first among welcomes

Have you met the members of Grace Lutheran Church in Thiensville, Wisconsin? They've just passed their affirmation of welcome to become Reconciling in Christ!


What a beautiful wall!
 Grace has been practicing welcome as a congregation since discerning in 1998 that LGBT inclusivity as a part of their call to ministry. This year they recommitted to that work with a fully inclusive affirmation of welcome, and we're glad to have them. They tell us the statement won't be the end of it, either:
As a part of this process, a new "Reconciling in Christ" working group has been formed to help Grace live into this Statement of Welcome and Affirmation as a community dedicated to invitation and welcome. Tell your friends and family - all are welcome here.
We're also proud to report that Lord of Mercy Lutheran Church in Sparks has become the first Reconciling in Christ congregation in Nevada!

Lord of Mercy has been active in their community for prison reform, juvenile justice, children's issues and welfare reform. They've also supported housing builds in Mexico. We're glad to have both congregations with us. Congratulations on the work you've done, and our prayers are with you for the work you continue to do!

German theologians call for acceptance of same-gender couples

A bold move that we heartily applaud:
University theologians [143 of them!] in Germany have called on the Catholic Church to abandon the vow of celibacy for priests, open up the clergy for women and accept gay couples.
See the full story.

Some excerpts from the German theologians’ letter:

The Church does not exist for its own sake. The church has the mission to announce the liberating and loving God of Jesus Christ to all people. The Church can do this only when it is itself a place and a credible witness of the good news of the Gospel. The Church’s speaking and acting, its rules and structures – its entire engagement with people within and outside the Church – is under the standard of acknowledging and promoting the freedom of people as God’s creation. Absolute respect for every person, regard for freedom of conscience, commitment to justice and rights, solidarity with the poor and oppressed: these are the theological foundational standards which arise from the Church’s obligation to the Gospel. Through these, love of God and neighbor become tangible.

This holds true in every case: the Good News of the Gospel is the standard for a credible Church, for its action and its presence in society.

Respect for individual conscience means placing trust in people’s ability to make decisions and carry responsibility. It is the task of the Church to support this capability. The Church must not revert to paternalism. Serious work needs to be done especially in the realm of personal life decisions and individual manners of life. The Church’s esteem for marriage and unmarried forms of life goes without saying. But this does not require that we exclude people who responsibly live out love, faithfulness, and mutual care in same-sex partnerships or in a remarriage after divorce.
See the full text of the letter.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Leading Black Pastor Eulogizes Slain Ugandan Gay Rights Advocate David Kato


Lutherans Concerned/North America passes along this press release about the memorial service held for David Kato on February 7.


Global Justice Institute
Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) http://www.sexualminoritiesuganda.org/
Gay By God http://gaybygod.net/


Media Release

Media Contacts:
Dinean Robinson dinean@gmail.com  862-235-0601
Joseph Tolton, Rehoboth Temple and Global Justice Institute 646-765-6960

Leading Black Pastor Eulogizes Slain Ugandan Gay Rights Advocate David Kato

NEW YORK, NY February 8, 2011— One of the leading African American ministers in the country stood in his pulpit to eulogize Ugandan gay advocate, David Kato, who was murdered after having a death threat against him published on the front page of a local newspaper. The Reverend Dr. Calvin O. Butts, III, head pastor of the historic Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem, announced to the 150 people gathered at the memorial service on Monday, February 7, 2011, that he was “beginning the conversation” to engage Black church leaders to save the lives of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender leaders such as David Kato.

"Tonight we make an important first step in bridging the chasm that separates gay & straight people in the church," Butts proclaimed. "This discussion on human sexuality should have happened a long time ago and if it had maybe Kato's and many many other's lives would have been saved."

Frank Mugisha, Executive Director of Sexual Minorities of Uganda, who worked closely with David, said, "Being here tonight inspires me and gives me strength to carry on David's work advocating for gays and lesbians, bailing them out of jail, providing financial support and protection. Before coming here I did not know that a religious leader could stand up freely and support gays and lesbians. In Uganda when a pastor did that he was excommunicated."

Uganda has been under international scrutiny as it continues to consider a law that would included the death penalty for gay people. Conservative Evangelicals have been documented spreading anti-gay sentiment to Uganda so that Ugandan LGBT people are now having to flee their homes due to threats and persecution.

"So long as these laws remain in force millions of people will continue to live their lives under the threat of arrest and in some cases even execution. These laws legitimize homophobia by giving it a government sanctioned seal of approval,” said Charles Radcliffe. "Our first challenge has to be the decriminalization of homosexuality." Mr. Radcliffe is the chief of global issues for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

New York City Speaker Christine C. Quinn, in a written statement read by a representative, called Kato's death "a reminder that every single individual has the power to promote equality and stand up against injustices both near and far.”

Pastor Joseph A. Tolton, Pastor of Rehoboth Temple and organizer of the service, praised Dr. Butts for his leadership in this critical moment. “The gay and lesbian African American community had a historic homecoming in this memorial service for David Kato. We found ourselves welcomed home to the cradle of the Black Church. We are clear that we all walk under the banner of love where our community will work together and not allow ourselves to be divided because of sexual orientation or gender identity. This is our first step in a long journey.”

The service, reminiscent of those held for the many martyrs who paid the ultimate price for freedom in the US, included a solitary portrait of Kato bearing the words "Demand Justice" positioned in the front of the church. Local church choirs and a featured solo from violinist Juliette Jones brought the gathered community to their feet with tears in their eyes. The memorial was one of two memorials held in New York City just two weeks after Kato was murdered in his home in Uganda. His death captured international attention and yesterday's memorial will certainly carry forward the discussion of homophobia in Uganda, the United States and the 70 countries that still imprison or execute gay and transgender people.

ABOUT GLOBAL JUSTICE INSTITUTEThe Global Justice Institute is a dual institutional initiative of Metropolitan Community Churches and The Fellowship (of affirming Churches). The Global Justice Institute provides faith based support for LGBTI liberation movements around the world. The Institute partners with leaders on the ground providing consulting services and gathering resources to sustain liberation movements in regions and nations that systematically oppress LGBTI people.

ABOUT SEXUAL MINORITIES UGANDA (SMUG)SMUG is a coalition of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) human rights organizations. SMUG was born on March 3, 2004 to organize LGBTI groups to create one big strong LGBTI community in Uganda. The need for a coalition arose because there were several LGBT groups operating in the country lacked concrete organization and teamwork with fellow groups. SMUG would then work on behalf of its member organizations, enforcing their activities and representing them in a more organized manner.

ABOUT GAY BY GOD
We are Christians who understand the universal principal of love as applied to our tradition; we embrace the idea of salvation as both a spiritual and embodied reality. We affirm same-gender loving and transgender people and welcome everyone who seeks to follow Christ. We come together to worship and we go out to serve.
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Thousands of LGBT Advocates Pause to Grieve the Death of David Kato

David Kato

On February 4, 2011, leaders in the LGBT movements, gathered at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF) “Creating Change” conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota, celebrated the life of David Kato, a Ugandan gay activist murdered in Kampala, the capital of Uganda on January 26, 2011. The National Religious Leadership Roundtable of the NGLTF made the following announcement.

Thousands of LGBT Advocates Pause to Grieve the Death of David Kato

In the wake of the brutal murder of David Kato, gay advocate in Uganda, thousands of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender leaders attending the Creating Change conference in Minneapolis, February 2-6, paused to remember his life and vowed to work even harder to tell our stories and move public opinion to accept LGBT people in all countries.

At a memorial vigil on Friday night, February 4, LGBT faith leaders and advocates from across the country and the world grieved the loss of their brother, David.

“No form of intimidation will stop our cause,” said Mr. Frank Mugisha, executive director of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG). “The life and death of David will be honored as we struggle for justice and equality and win the hearts of people around the world because we are your sons and daughters, brothers and sisters. David is gone but the struggle will be won. David wanted to see a Uganda where all people will be treated equally. It is our turn to pick up the mantle and carry on.”

“Faith leaders have been working for the last year to expose the efforts of some American Christian conservatives to spread anti-LGBT attitudes to Africa, and Uganda in particular,” said Dr. Sylvia Rhue of the National Black Justice Coalition. “So-called ‘ex-gay’ ministries have failed so dismally in the United States that they are now exporting their damaging beliefs. They will continue to fail because diversity in sexual orientation and gender identity is inherent to humankind.”

“Jesus taught us that we must love God and love our neighbor as ourselves. But some of our Christian brothers and sisters in the United States and around the world turn Jesus' ministry on its head,” said the Rev. Rebecca Voelkel, faith work director for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. “They preach judgment, condemnation and rejection and use fear to raise money and stoke violence. Where is the love? The murder of David Kato must be investigated and those responsible need to be brought to justice. But all of us--Ugandans, Americans and all our neighbors around the world--need to build societies in which love, respect and human dignity rule the day, no matter what faith tradition or culture we come from.”

“David Kato was a member of the Anglican Church of Uganda. Sadly, most Ugandan Anglican leaders preach messages of rejection and condemnation under the guise of religion,” said the Rev. David Norgard, president of Integrity USA. “As members of the Episcopal Church, we have a long standing relationship with our LGBT brothers and sisters in Uganda as members of the global Anglican Communion and must face the fact that the Church has been a big part of the problem. It is long overdue for Christians, and good people of all faiths, to be the solution: to stop this violence, to sow love where hatred now festers and to respect the dignity of every human being.”
“As African Americans and Baptist/United Church of Christ clergy, we minister to straight, same-gender loving and transgender people in the District of Columbia. We are devastated by the loss of David Kato, a powerful advocate for justice in Uganda,” said the Revs. Dennis and Christine Wiley. “We have seen how the strategy of fear mongering is being used to drive a wedge within the African American community despite a long tradition of accommodated differences in gender identity and love partnerships among our own. Today, some religious leaders make a living on the backs of gay and transgender people through fear and misinformation. They preach a message of exclusion rather than a gospel of love. In Uganda, this led to a murder and ongoing persecution. It is time to stop.”

“My prayers go out to the people of Uganda who lost a courageous soul to brutality. As a Bishop and pastor to same gender loving and transgender African American Christians in the United States, I have seen firsthand how true faith saves lives and how hate in the guise of religion destroys people and communities,” said Bishop Tonya Rawls of Unity Fellowship Church Movement. “Africans and African Americans know firsthand how Scripture has been used to justify slavery, colonialism and racism around the globe. Using Scripture to condemn people for their sexual orientation and gender identity is just as wrong. God’s love always trumps hate.”

“My heart aches for David Kato's family and the good people of Uganda who have lost a hero and prophetic voice for justice,” said Dr. Sharon Groves, interim director of religion and faith for the Human Rights Campaign. “I hold my faith dear; it is faith that can heal and helps us understand that God is love. So, I cannot sit idly by while a few radical preachers from the USA use the Bible to foment hate crimes in Uganda. As we mourn the death of David Kato, I call on faithful people worldwide to speak out against the export fear and lies in the name of religion. Let us say in a unified voice, ‘not in my name.’”

The Rev. Elder Nancy Wilson, moderator of the Metropolitan Community Church, said, “Around the world MCC is known as the human rights church. We honor the life of David Kato who lived boldly and settled for nothing less than his full humanity. We pray for people in Uganda, the US and everywhere who fear people because of who they love and who they are. We pray for advocates who risk their lives every day and commit ourselves to work even harder to bring a day of peace, understanding and respect.”

"As a Jew, I know what it means to be persecuted for who you are. The headlines, attacks and religious drum beat of judgment and rejection has an all too familiar ring to it. Human beings can be fomented into horrific acts. We must be vigilant to make respect for difference the most basic of human values for all civil societies because we are created b’tzelem elohim, in the image of God," said Dr. Joel L. Kushner, director of Judaism and sexual orientation, Hebrew Union College – JIR.

“The United Church of Christ is a denomination that continues to stand up for LGBT people,” said the Rev. Michael Schuenemeyer, UCC Executive for Health and Wholeness Advocacy. “We urge all denominations to turn the tragedy of David Kato’s death into a moment of gospel clarity that no individual or group should be persecuted in the name of the Bible. False ideas and fear have no place in Christianity.”

Bishop Yvette Flunder, presiding bishop of The Fellowship, said, “We know that David Kato’s life laid the ground work for what is to come. He had a vision and he pursued it. It was a vision of a country and a world that is safe for all of us to live and love and pray together as beloved children of God. David shone the light and all of us are better for his work and life.”

“David fought bravely against a rising tide of persecution fomented and fostered in no small measure by a conservative evangelical network emanating from the U.S. that uses disinformation to spread fear and mistrust,” said Pam Spees, staff attorney for the Center for Constitutional Rights. "We call for accountability and for people in religious communities to publicly stand against the persecution of LGBT people. We can do no less."

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Our Newest RIC Organizations

Today we welcome a congregation in Upstate NY and a campus ministry in Oregon.

Luther House is the Lutheran Campus Ministry of OSU in Corvallis, Oregon. Founded in 1926, it has ministered to the campus and the community for over 80 years. Self described as "a vibrant, welcoming, inclusive, curious, traditional-yet-progressive, Christ-centered, Spirit-inspired Lutheran Campus Ministry," Luther House is just off-campus in an old home that hosts students, faculty, staff and members of local churches in ministry together.

The facade of St. John's. Pretty, huh?
St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church's decision to become RIC sprang from the organic welcome their congregation has lived for many years. They worship together on Saturday evenings and Sunday mornings and support the Center City Parish Social Ministry which, as they say, "[serves] our community through a food pantry, soup kitchen, thrift shop and some intervention and advocacy," in conjunction with Holy Family Parish.

We're glad to have you both with us. Please say hello and say a prayer for their ministries!

Memorial service for David Kato announced

News Flash

All are invited to stand in solidarity and in memoriam with Sexual Minorities Uganda and the Global Justice Institute as they mourn the death and celebrate the life of David Kato.

On Monday, February 7, at 7:00 p.m., a Memorial Service will be held for David Kato at Riverside Church (490 Riverside Dr.) in New York City.

Please see http://tinyurl.com/KatoService for full information.

Vigil to commemorate slain Ugandan activist David Kato to be held in New York City

New York, February 1, 2011

PRESS RELEASE from
International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC)

Vigil to Commemorate Slain Ugandan Activist David KatoCalls for End to Homophobic Religious HateUS religious leaders have a moral responsibility to condemn and combat the murderous spread of homophobic hate in Uganda, said a coalition of thirty-five human rights organizations announcing a vigil in memory of slain Ugandan human rights activist David Kato. The candlelight vigil will be held at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza and followed by a silent procession to Uganda House, the Ugandan mission to the United Nations, on February 3 at 4 pm. (Co-sponsors and event details below.)

Kato, a prominent leader of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) movement in Uganda, was found murdered in his Kampala home on January 26. His photograph had been published in a Ugandan tabloid that called for hanging gay people; he had recently led a successful lawsuit forcing the publication to desist. The groups also voiced concern that homophobia may prevent Ugandan authorities from conducting a full and fair investigation of Kato's murder.

"David Kato was a hero not just to LGBT Ugandans, but to all Ugandans, and to all supporters of human rights," said Frank Mugisha, Kato's colleague in Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), an LGBT rights organization in Uganda. "As we mourn him, we must also ensure that his killers are brought to justice and that no LGBT Ugandan ever faces the same deadly violence again."

Kato was a leading opponent of the "Anti-Homosexuality Bill" introduced in 2009 by MP David Bahati - proposed legislation that would criminalize any advocacy or support for LGBT people, as well as punish homosexual conduct with the death penalty under certain circumstances. The bill was promoted by US evangelical Christian leaders including Scott Lively, Don Schmierer, and Caleb Lee Brundidge, who met with Ugandan parliamentarians and advocated for increased strictures against homosexuality while preaching in Uganda in early 2009.

"In our grief and anger reacting to David's murder, we draw line in the sand," said Cary Alan Johnson, Executive Director of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC). "We will be standing outside the United Nations and Uganda's embassy to demand an end to this unspeakable violence and homophobia in Uganda and around the world."

US evangelical leaders including the influential minister Rick Warren have long taken a close interest in Ugandan affairs and have embraced and supported Ugandan Christian ministers who promote homophobia. Warren himself - who delivered the invocation at President Barack Obama's inauguration - has falsely compared homosexuality to pedophilia.

“David Kato’s murder shows that lies have consequences,” said Rev. Kapya Kaoma, the director of Public Research Associate’s Project on Religion and Sexuality. “Those U.S conservatives who have lit the brushfire of homophobia in Africa now have to face their guilt. They must speak out against the violence that now threatens all gay Ugandans.”

An additional vigil mourning David Kato - organized by IGLHRC, AIDS Rights Alliance for Southern Africa (ARASA), and Gender Dynamix - will be held in Cape Town, South Africa the same day at 5:00 pm local time at 6 Spin Street, Cape Town (opposite Church Square).

“David will be greatly missed and it is going to be extremely difficult to replace his leadership,” said Val Kalende, Board Chair of Freedom and Roam Uganda, a lesbian, bisexual, and transgender organization in Uganda. “But we cannot afford to remain silent as the government of Uganda continues to shown its unwillingness to protect the fundamental rights LGBT citizens. There is no better time that this for our government to drop the Anti-Homosexuality Bill and to stop the religious-sponsored homophobia that might have cause David's death and might lead to the loss of many others.”

******************************

EVENT ANNOUNCEMENT
WHAT: Candlelight vigil and silent procession

WHY:To honor slain Ugandan LGBT activist David Kato

WHEN: February 3, 2011, 4:00 pm at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza; 5:00 pm at Uganda House

WHERE: Dag Hammarskjold Plaza at the corner of 2nd Avenue and 47th Street, NY, NY.
Uganda House at 336 East 45th Street between 1st and 2nd Avenues, NY, NY.

WHO:The keynote speech will be delivered by Val Kalende, Board Chair of Freedom and Roam Uganda, an LBT organization in Uganda.

Additional speakers include:• Cary Alan Johnson (International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission)
• Reverend Kapya Kaoma (Public Research Associates)
• Amanda Lugg (African Services Committee)
• Kagendo Murungi (Wapinduzi Productions)
• Dr. Cheikh Traore (United Nations Development Program)
• Invited guests included United States and New York City government officials.
• Speaker list in formation.


Thirty-six organizations and growing are sponsoring this event including:
ACT UP/New York, African Services Committee, American Jewish World Service, Amnesty International, amfAR The Foundation for AIDS Research, ARC International, Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice, Center for Constitutional Rights, Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies, Center for Women's Global Leadership, Council for Global Equality, Freedom and Roam Uganda, Gay By God, The Gay Men’s Health Crisis, Global Forum on MSM & HIV, Global Justice Ministry Health Global Access Project (GAP), House Of Rainbow Fellowship, Human Rights Campaign, International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, Immigration Equality, The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center, LGBT Rights Program at Human Rights Watch, Lutherans Concerned/North America, National Black Justice Coalition, The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, The New York City Anti-Violence Project, None on Record, Political Research Associates, The Queer African Youth Networking Center, Queers for Economic Justice, Sexual Minorities Uganda, Stonewall Community Foundation, St. Paul’s Foundation For International Reconciliation, Wapinduzi Productions


Media Contacts: Jessica Stern, Director of Programs, IGLHRC +1 212-430-6014; jstern@iglhrc.org

Boris Dittrich, Acting Director Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Program, Human Rights Watch, + 1 212-216-1280; boris.dittrich@hrw.org

Kapya Kaoma, Project Director, Political Research Associates, +1 617-666-5300; k.kaoma@publiceye.org

Scott Long, Senior Fellow, Center for Gender and Sexuality Law, Columbia University School of Law; +1 212-854-7487; slong1@law.columbia.edu

Reconciling Lutherans!

Lissa just finished the paperwork for four new Reconciling Lutherans, so we now have reached the 5,000 mark! Thank you to everyone who signed up to publicly proclaim that
As members of the body of Christ, we are called to be ministers of reconciliation both in the church and in the world. Through our baptism we are reconciled to God through the saving grace of Christ Jesus. As children of God, Christ calls us to lives of reconciliation, wholeness, integrity and authenticity. We are challenged by the Gospel to be agents of healing and love within our church and society.
We affirm with the apostle Paul that in Christ "there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female" (Gal 3:28). Christ has made us one body with many members, equal at the foot of the cross and at Christ's table of blessing and promise. God's extravagant welcome is sure.

As a Reconciling Lutheran, I call on the Lutheran church to extend God's extravagant welcome and a genuine invitation for acceptance and full inclusion to

People of every age, class, color, and ethnic origin….
People of all sexual orientations and gender identities….
People who are single, married, divorced, separated, blessed or partnered….
People who are temporarily-able, disabled, or of differing abilities….

And I ask God, the giver of life and all creation, to guide my ways in living out the ministry of reconciliation always seeking to follow in the steps of Jesus Christ.

Our membership list is private, but Reconciling Lutherans is a public witness of the call to welcome all people. If you haven't signed up yet, please consider it (and ask your friends)!

Board member in the spotlight, pt 2

As you may already know, Minneapolis is hosting the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force conference Creating Change from February 2nd through 6th of 2011. At the same time The Task Force is hosting a smaller conference in conjunction called Practice Spirit, Do Justice. This smaller conference focuses on the work of religious and spiritual activists, acknowledging that those parts of our identities are crucial to who we are and to our work in religious, spiritual or faith communities.

Nicole Garcia, Transgender Representative on LC/NA's Board of Directors, will attend and lead a Latino working group. As NPR reports, it is
"one of several such groups aimed at a greater diversity in gay religious activism — an arena that convention co-organizer the Rev. Rebecca Voelkel said "has been largely defined by white folks."
Nicole works hard to help LC/NA live out its mission of working at the intersection of oppressions. She is very active in Latino communities and a spectacular transgender educator, as well. We're very glad to have her with us! You can read more about her part in Practice Spirit, Do Justice here. Please keep her, the LC/NA staff and the rest of the Creating Change participants in your prayers as we work and learn together this week.