At its meeting on March 24, LCR’s church council considered a program called Reconciling in Christ (“RIC”). Specifically, the church council discussed whether to seek designation and qualification as a RIC congregation.
RIC is an ELCA program for Lutheran communities that publicly welcomes lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. This program traces its roots back to 1974 when an independent, Lutheran, membership-supported organization called ReconcilingWorks began providing a ministry of education and advocacy to help Lutheran churches become more welcoming places. In 1984, it began the Reconciling in Christ program that identifies congregations and other church organizations as safe, welcoming communities of faith. Today, ReconcilingWorks maintains a website that allows people to find a welcoming church in their own community, and it recognizes over 865 ministry settings (including seminaries and colleges) that are publicly and intentionally welcoming.
By becoming a RIC congregation, LCR will become Cincinnati’s second RIC congregation and will represent to LGBTQ seekers that it is a safe, welcoming church. RIC will not change LCR’s position regarding LGBTQ. We already wrestled with that issue years ago and chose to be a welcoming congregation for all people regardless of sexual identity. RIC simply makes our welcoming nature more public.
The RIC program achieves this by building relationships through outreach and education and helps to share Christ's Gospel message to everyone equally. It has a training program called “Building an Inclusive Church” that helps congregations design and implement a journey to publicly and intentionally welcome people of all sexual orientations and gender identities. The training provides ways to create dialogue and to deepen relationships in our faith community. It provides opportunities to engage through a mix of presentations, hands-on practice, and small group discussion. This training is grounded in scripture and discipleship, and essentially, it allows congregations to explore the Christian call to hospitality and evangelism.
At our March meeting, LCR’s council discussed these issues and then considered a motion to direct our pastors to assemble a diverse, core committee from our congregation and to ask them to produce a welcoming statement and a plan to implement RIC within six months. I’m pleased to report that the motion passed unanimously. At the following council meeting on April 28, Pastor Zorn reported that the core RIC team is Tara Rammel, Amy Morris, Leah Langdon, Jay Guenther, John Schwamberger, Teresa Ahrenholz, and Craig Miller. During the six-month process, the congregation will be invited to information-gathering and educational opportunities. It will benefit our congregation if many members participate in these events. We anticipate that the result will be to add the RIC logo to our web site along with a broad welcoming statement that refers to race, ethnicity, age, disability, and sexual orientation. If you would like further information, please don’t hesitate to contact me, Pastor Zorn, or Pastor Kelly or to check the website at www.reconcilingworks.org.
-Steve Ray, LCR Congregation President