Friday, January 27, 2012

Idaho and Pennsylvania

January is a wonderful month for Lutherans Concerned. Not only are we privileged to celebrate RIC Sunday, but due to a large number of congregational meetings held this month we experience an influx of new Reconciling in Christ congregations with whom we have wonderful introductory conversations. This week we're glad to be acknowledging two new RIC settings in Idaho and Pennsylvania.
Zion United Luthern Church ("An old church doing new ministry") of Brodheadsville, PA passed their statement of welcome on January 22nd. They were founded in 1861 and are in the midst of celebrating their 150th anniversary. They participate in a range of ministries, from Family Promise which houses homeless families for a week at a time, to a knit and crochet group, to a disaster response team!

On that same Sunday, Emmaus Lutheran Community of Idaho Falls, Idaho also passed an affirmation of welcome. They have a casual worship service on Sunday afternoons that draws from a variety of worshipping practices. At Emmaus, there is a ministry for you: coffee ministry, pub ministries, couples' and singles ministries. If you're in the area, definitely visit.

We're always happy to hear from new congregations about being Reconciling in Christ. If you know of a congregation doing the work of welcome, invite them to connect with us by calling us at 651-665-0861 or emailing us at info [at]

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Lutheran Bishop (ELCA) Asks State Senate to Pass Marriage Equality

Bishop Chris Boerger testifies before
Washington State Senate
Bishop Chris Boerger, ELCA Northwest Washington Synod, testified on Monday at a public hearing of the Washington State Senate Committee on Government Operations and Tribal Relations & Elections, saying that he was in favor of LGBT couples being able to have legally-recognized marriages that are equal in the state.

Bp Boerger's statement to the hearing: "Mr. Chairman, I am Chris Boerger, the bishop of the Northwest Washington Synod of the Evangelical Church in America. In 2009 the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America voted to commit itself to find ways to allow congregations who choose to do so to support and hold publicly accountable lifelong monogamous same gender relationships. That's quite a mouthful: publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships. One of the people who had questions about our doing this said, "Bishop, isn't that marriage?" And my response is, "Well, in everything but name." The reality is, the Lutheran church has always held that it is the state that defines what marriage is; it's the church that then blesses people who enter into that relationship. We have now stated our desire to bless those who are publicly accountable in lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships. We can't call it marriage--you can. That's why I am here today to say there will be those in my church who will not participate; we understand that freedom. There are those who want to, and we ask for that freedom."

Executive Director Emily Eastwood said, " We thank Bp. Boerger for his courageous witness. His statement reflects the fine line of the ELCA social statement which allows freedom of choice for those pastors and congregations wishing to perform marriages for same-gender couples in states where such are legal. The Northwest Washington Synod has long supported full participation for LGBT people in the life of church and society. Bp. Boerger's statements reflect the views already expressed by the synod. Nevertheless, by taking these views to the legislature and, therefore, into the media, Bp. Boerger has acted for justice. Our thanks are due."

Rev. Chris Boerger, Bishop of the
Northwest Washington Synod (ELCA)
(The bishop's remarks begin at about the 1:12:20 mark)

The hearing was on Senate Bill 6239, "An act relating to providing equal protection for all families in Washington by creating equality in civil marriage and changing the domestic partnership laws, while protecting religious freedom..."

This act would establish no differentiation under state law between civil marriage rights, responsibilities and benefits for same-gender or opposite-gender couples. Further, the bill would provide that registered domestic partnerships between same-gender persons that currently exist would be deemed to be marriages automatically on June 30, 2014, unless the couple gets married prior to that date or have initiated separation proceedings as of that date. Religious freedom is fully protected in the bill: no religious minister or congregation would be forced by the law to perform marriages they did not wish to, or forced to allow their facilities to be used for that purpose.

There is a parallel bill to the same effect in process in the Washington State House of Representatives, HB 2516.

On Monday also, State Senator Mary Margaret Haugen announced that she would vote for the marriage equality bill, making her the 25th senator to so state and the passage of the bill practically assured. There are already sufficient votes in the State House of Representatives for passage. Washington Governor Christine Gregoire has stated that she would sign the bill into law when it passes.

From reports it appears the bill will come out of the Senate committee by Thursday of this week, and out of the House committee by January 30th. There are other procedural steps before it will come to a vote.

In opposition, there is a bill running for a joint resolution of the whole legislature that seeks to place on the ballot at the next general election an amendment to the state's constitution that states, in part: "Recognizing that marriage between persons other than a male and a female has never been authorized or recognized by law in this state, only marriage between a man and a woman is valid and recognized in Washington. The uniting of two persons other than one male and one female in any marital relationship, although recognized as valid in another jurisdiction, is not recognized as valid in this state."

Phil Soucy
Director Communications LC/NA

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Adoration Lutheran Church

Lutherans Concerned is proud to present the newest Reconciling in Christ congregation, Adoration Lutheran Church of Greenfield, Wisconsin! They recently updated their statement of welcome to include not only people of all sexual orientations and gender identities but people of all abilities, a welcome they find incrediby important in their community. Adoration has a lot going on, from a ministry partnership in Tanzania to worship on Wednesday evenings to "What Would Jesus Brew," a twice monthly gathering in an untraditional setting.
Adoration Evangelical Lutheran Church identifies itself as a "Reconciling in Christ" congregation and publicly welcomes all persons to full membership and participation in the ministry we share without regard to race, ethnicity, social status, ability,
gender or sexual orientation.
If you're not close enough to visit in person, you should check out their website and facebook page for regular updates, including sermon audio and a thoughtful blog by Pastor Singleton. Adoration, we will keep you in our prayers as the work of welcome continues. Welome!