About 5 years ago, my family was looking for a new church home. Church is a place where I always feel welcomed, nurtured, challenged, and – most importantly – like I BELONG. When looking for a Christian community, we were seeking one that fully integrated all persons, including those who identify as LGBTQIA+. I was tired of seeing loved ones feel conditionally accepted, if not outright ostracized by Christian communities. We knew that the ELCA (national body of Lutheran churches) had passed a Social Statement allowing churches to call gay and lesbian pastors, and to bless the unions of any two committed, consenting adults.
On the first Sunday at TLC, we knew that we found a community that was diverse, loving, and fully inclusive. After getting to know others by joining various ministry and service opportunities, I knew I was “home.” Given how open everyone was and seeing a wide range of people sitting in the pews of other churches I had been in, I was surprised to see that the congregation was not listed as “Reconciling in Christ.” Being a RIC congregation publicly identifies that church as a place that fully lives into the hymn, “All are Welcome.” I was given wholehearted encouragement to find out how TLC could become a RIC congregation.
Our congregation embarked on a course of study and discernment, that allowed us to learn about the experiences – both distressing and life-giving – of our LGBTQIA+ siblings. Through Bible study and listening to voices of LGBTQIA+ persons and clergy, we began to discern our response to Christ’s call to welcome and include all person. The process led to a “pulse of the congregation” poll to assess the will of the congregation which resulted in UNANIMOUS SUPPORT for creating a Welcome Statement. Temple announced our commitment to supporting and including all children of God – LGBTQIA+ as well as all those of various race, income, education across all walks of life. Temple was ready to welcome ALL into the life of Temple Lutheran Church.
This is far from the end of a process. We continue to strive to make sure others know of our stance and values. We continue to question and challenge ourselves on issues such as the language we use, the hymns we choose, and to whom we share and rent our space. We are committed to insuring that we do not give into conscious or unconscious bias and that we communicate directly and indirectly to ALL the love of Jesus and the care and support of Temple’s congregation.
Karen Kampmeyer-Mannix, TLC Mission Partner since 2016