The ELCA has been working for the past year on developing a “Social Message on Gender-Based Violence” (GBV). JamieAnn Meyers and Nicole Garcia, board members of ReconcilingWorks: Lutherans for Full Participation, participated as consultants on this project, which is headed by Mary Streufert, Ph.D. Mary is the Director of Justice for Women in the Office of the Presiding Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).
A draft of the document is ready for review by the public and can be read at
The preface of the draft document states that “Gender-based violence has been a largely ignored epidemic in human society. This message [if adopted by the Church Council of the ELCA] seeks to bring the epidemic into the open for the sake of survivors and perpetrators, for education and deliberation, and as a call to action.”
Feedback on the draft of this significant Social Message is especially requested from members of ReconcilingWorks. The response form can be downloaded from or filled out online at
Please submit your response at any time prior to November 26, 2014.
The document contains ten major sections. You may wish to focus on any one or more of these sections in your response, depending on your interest and your knowledge base. The sections include a Pastoral Message, Definitions of GBV, Context and Sources of GBV, Confession of Sin, Religious Contributions to the Problems Social Forces, Confession of Faith, The ELCA’s Calling, the ELCA’s Social Witness, and Commitments to a New Beginning.
Thank you for your faithful witness to the Gospel.
Yours in Christ,
JamieAnn Meyers, Ph.D.
Board Member, ReconcilingWorks
The heart of the Reformation, "the doctrine by which the church stands or falls," as Luther wrote, is "justification by faith." To people dreadfully anxious about their salvation, Luther declared that our behavior--whether good or bad--had nothing to do with fixing our relationship with God. God fixes the relationship ... as a gift. Being true to the Lutheran confessions means using the principle of "justification by faith" to ask afresh in every era, "what shall we say now in order to be life-giving today?"
Four hundred and ninety-six years later, ReconcilingWorks is asking YOU that same question. What will we say, what will we do, that’s life-giving for LGBT people?
The ELCA’s Working Group for Ministry to and with Same Gender Couples and their Families needs your input. As part of the Working Group’s mission to encourage conversations and resource sharing throughout the church about ministering to and with LGBT couples and their families, the Working Group has developed a questionnaire to discover what conversations may be happening in your faith community and what resources might be needed to aid in ministry and pastoral care.
The questionnaire provides an opportunity for open-ended responses. In addition to the survey's questions, here are some additional things to consider as you take the survey:
· Would it be helpful for your faith community to have a wedding liturgy provided by the ELCA that is appropriate for all couples, including LGBT couples?
· What kinds of resources would be most effective in helping your congregation respond to the needs of LGBT couples and their families?
· How can the ELCA equip your congregation to advocate for equal protection under the law and non-discrimination for same-gender couples and their families?
We know there is a great need for LGBT couples and families to feel welcome in the church and be accepted as they are. Policy changes in the ELCA allowing for the greater inclusion of all God’s people have encouraged many to return to their churches where once they had felt shunned, to re-engage where once they had felt left out—and, perhaps, to join a faith community for the first time. With marriage for same-gender couples becoming recognized by more and more state governments, many LGBT couples are approaching their pastors and congregations, asking to be married in the church.
Please share your thoughts with the Working Group here: https://surveys.elca.org/scripts/rws5.pl?FORM=samegen and then share the questionnaire link with as many other members of the ELCA as you can—with your congregation, your synod newsletter, your Facebook page, etc. . . . Please respond before November 30, 2014.
To learn more about the working group, please click here (http://www.elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/NewsBlog/56).
Spirit Day encourages all to make a public witness against bullying and to show their support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth. Observed annually since 2010, individuals, congregations, schools, organizations, corporations, and public figures wear purple, which symbolizes “spirit” on the rainbow flag.
Suggested prayer petition for Oct. 12 (Anticipating Spirit Day on Oct. 16)
"O God, our refuge, you have promised to wipe away the tears from all faces. We ask your presence to be made known to all those living in quiet despair, those filled with fear and self-hatred, those who struggle to find their place in this world. We ask your particular guidance on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth in their journeys of self-discovery. May your peace guard their hearts and minds."
- Deck your worship space out in purple for the week – Banners!
- Invite everyone to wear purple and snap a photo
- Encourage a message about anti-bullying
- Plan worship themed about anti-bullying
- Sing songs reflecting Spirit Day.
- Ask your youth group to look at anti-bullying resources: Where All Can Safely Live and Where Hands Will Reach
- Show the film, Hineini : Coming Out in a Jewish High School
- Educate the adults about what high school is like for LGBT youth
- Share Accompaniment: A Resource for Youth Leaders with the adult leaders in your faith community
- Encourage congregation members to wear purple on October 17th and at a worship service before to October 17th. Take a photo!
- Announce Spirit Day on your congregation’s marquis or exterior sign
- Invite congregation members to take the Spirit Day Pledge. Use your congregational newsletter, or set up lap top computers after worship for people to go to GLAAD’s Spirit Day Page
- Change your congregational web site purple
- Take steps to make your congregation actively welcoming of LGBT people. Kulanu: A New Guide for Congregations has wonderful suggestions
- Bring your place of worship to visit with school officials and government leaders to offer support for safe schools
- Write an opinion piece/letter to the editor, explaining why you and your place of worship are participating in Spirit Day
What is Ally Week?
Ally Week, taking place this year October 12-18 is a whole week where we can engage in a national dialogue about how everyone can work to become better allies to LGBT youth. Whether you're a lesbian adult working to make schools safer for today's youth, or a gay student organizing to create safe spaces for your trans friends, everyone has an opportunity this week not only to recognize their allyship but to take action!
Suggested prayer petition for Oct. 19 (At the conclusion of Ally Week)
"Creator God, how marvelous and glorious is the human family which you have made in your image. Thank you for opening the hearts of this community to welcome people of all sexual orientations and gender identities. May we and all other Reconciling In Christ congregations and faith communities continue to receive your Word with joy, that the welcome we have here received may be reported to all the nations!"
What is an Ally?
We refer to Allies as people who do not necessarily identify as LGBT, but support this community by standing against the bullying and harassment LGBT folks face. Anyone who takes a stand against anti-LGBT bullying and harassment can be an ally.
Why do we need an Ally Week?
The unfortunate truth is that anti-LGBT bullying, violence and harassment are not only commonplace in America's schools, but can occur in our congregations as well.
Why is ReconcilingWorks involved?
ReconcilingWorks understands that bullying doesn't just happen in our schools, but in our congregations and communities as well. As people of faith, we can show God's love by standing up for victims of bullying behaivor wherever they may be.
Actions in a minute:
- Make a personal and intentional vow to explore what it means to become an Ally to LGBT identified youth.
- Tweet about GLSEN’s Ally Week using hashtag: #AllyWeek and #BetterAllies TWEET!
- Post a link to our Ally Week website on your Facebook page
- Learn how to become an Ally to trans* and gender nonconforming youth here.
Actions for an hour:
- Pay attention to how often you hear anti-LGBT bias language in your life, empathy is often the driver of change.
- Print out our “I am an Ally” selfie resource and post it on the GLSEN Facebook page
- Purchase and send a Safe Space Kit for your classroom, or your alma materRead GLSEN’s Educator’s Guide to Ally Week!
- Learn how to support Trans* and gender nonconforming students.
Actions for an afternoon:
- Learn about LGBT students experiences in school by reading GLSEN’s National School Climate Survey Executive Summary
- Seek out Power, Privilege and Oppression training workshops at an LGBT Center near you.
- Ask about someone’s experience and create space for story sharing.
- Build a lesson plan to help your class think deeply about the ways homophobia, transphobia, racism and classism impact students on a daily basis. For reference use: Working with LGBT Students of Color: A Guide for Educators
- Learn about how to become a GSA (Gay, Straight Alliance) advisor. If you are already an advisor watch a webinar about supporting your GSA.
On September 19, 2014, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) knocked on Francisco Aguirre’s home at 7 a.m. when he was showering. Because they didn’t have a warrant, Aguirre refused to open his door and talk with the agents. With ICE promising to return with a warrant, Aguirre fled his home with his wife and children to find sanctuary in Augustana Lutheran Church in Portland Oregon.
Sanctuary has often been sought out by all who face oppression. Rev. W. J. Mark Knutson, Pastor of Augustana Lutheran Church, explained that “Sanctuary is an ancient principle: church as a place of safety and hope. Until the world itself is the sanctuary God intended, we must have places in cities and small towns where someone is safe when they are in crisis. That’s the role we see ourselves playing.”
Francisco Aguirre is originally from El Salvador, but came to the United States in 1995 after fleeing the violent aftermath of a civil war, in which his family was killed. As a community leader and co-founder of VOZ Workers’ Rights Education Project, he has helped claim stolen wages for workers and become a role model for his peers in the immigrant community.
On September 30, 2014 Augustana Lutheran Church hosted an interfaith service in sanctuary and solidarity with Francisco Aguirre and his family, drawing over 1,000 in attendance and prominent faith leaders - including ELCA Bishop Dave Brauer-Rieke and other Lutheran clergy.
Together, faith leaders and people of faith came from all across the state of Oregon to stand together and demand Francisco’s freedom. As partners working at the intersections of oppression, ReconcilingWorks was proud to be present at the service and stand in solidarity with Francisco Aguirre and his family. We called on immigration officials to expedite the approval of his U-Visa so that he and his family can resume their daily life, free from fear of detention and deportation. We called on ICE to allow Francisco to do the right thing and finish his court process without interrupting the justice system. We said not one more: not one more family separated, not one more child watching their parents taken away in handcuffs by immigration agents, and not one more day of waiting for Congress and the President to fix our struggling immigration system.
ReconcilingWorks knows the identity of people and oppression is intertwined. There are approximately 300,000 LGBT people in the United States that are also undocumented. In Oregon alone, there are 80,000 people left without a form of license or insurance driving on Oregon’s roads. Most importantly though, everyone deserves to have a safe, legal way to get to their school, work, church, and hospitals.
Although many borders have been drawn, we all belong. In sanctuary, there is no homeless; there is no stranger; there is no immigrant.
We are called to stand in solidarity with all who face injustice. ReconcilingWorks proudly affirms our call by standing in solidarity with Francisco Aguirre and the other 11 million undocumented individuals who call the United States home.
Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with ReconcilingWorks! Can you name these famous LGBT people of Latin@ heritage?
People are fascinating. There are so many ways of being male or being female or being both or rejecting the binary altogether. While that being refers to gender expression, not to be confused with sexuality, I am intrigued by and attracted to many expressions across the gender spectrum. So when I only have a few minutes to identify my sexuality, I use the language of bisexuality.
Granted, even that language takes some people awhile to grasp. A friend of mine asked, in all honesty, how folks who are bi navigate monogamy, as though being attracted to all genders necessitates at least two partners. On my less optimistic days, being bi means I've twice the chance of romantic rejection, but on my out and proud and feeling good days, it's a beautiful gift of being open to the possibility of falling in love with anyone. (Or twice the chance of being ridiculously awkward in conversations with new people, let's be honest.) It means that my first relationships with men aren't made any less by the relationships I've had with women, nor vice-versa. It means I can sympathize and dream with just about anybody who wants to share their stories with me.
I am also fairly fluid in my gender expression, which is another realm of conversation altogether, but interesting to contemplate when it comes to how who I'm attracted to plays into my own self-image. Being bi means I can relate to God in both genders. I can be loved by the feminine Spirit of God and encouraged by the Jesus who is my brother. Living in this space, of the freedom to love both men and women romantically, is a space I should be used to as a Lutheran minister (in our theology, everything's about paradox, the both/and). Some days it's fabulous, other days it's lonesome, but I think that's a feeling anybody can relate to.
Pastor at Christ our Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Chatham, NY
By JamieAnn Meyers
Transgender Representative and Board Member
During a conversation with a new cisgender heterosexual friend and person of faith, coming out as trans* proved to be a relatively positive and affirming experience.
They acknowledged their transphobia, but were very eager to learn about my identity as a transsexual woman. They were supportive and could also understand how my gender dysphoria led me to transition from my male birth-assigned sex to my female gender identity.
And then I came out to them as bi*. Suddenly my new friend grew quiet; then considerable confusion dominated their remarks and they immediately asked how I could be bi* and married to my wife? They erased my bi* identity and replaced it with a lesbian identity. Further discussion revealed that assumptions around infidelity, promiscuity and hypersexuality were also part of their biphobia, and their eagerness to accept me as a new friend was suddenly in question.
I explained to them that bi* people can experience emotional and physical attraction to all genders. Furthermore, there is a huge difference between experiencing emotional and/or physical attraction to a diversity of genders and acting on those attractions.
The conversation soon ended with my affirming my strong belief that the trans* and bi* sexual communities are a beautiful rainbow of diversity and complexity, including people of many different gender identities who express their sexuality in many different ways. As a trans* and bi* sexual-identified person of faith, I want to help focus our movement on building increased awareness and acceptance based on this wonderfully complex and inclusive array of sexual and gender diversity.
I am proud to identify as a queer bisexual radical-femme transsexual woman. I am a child of God, and I live at the intersection of multiple oppressions.
(Note: the use of the asterisk in trans* and bi* stands for inclusion of multiple gender and sexual identities respectively. Trans* includes all transgender and gender non-conforming people. Bi* includes identities such as pansexual/omnisexual, fluid, queer, homoflexible, heteroflexible, etc.)
By JamieAnn Meyers, Transgender Representative and Board Member
On Sunday, August 3, 2014 I visited the Seminary Ridge Museum at Gettysburg Lutheran Theological Seminary, the school from which my Dad received his M.S.T. in 1956. The seminary was founded in 1826 by progressive theologian Samuel Simon Schmucker and is the oldest continuing Lutheran seminary in the Americas.
"When one congregation or a group of congregations gather for service in their local communities, they are the church in that place, taking care of that part of God’s vineyard. But this is all work that we do together.” These are words so eloquently spoken by Bishop Elizabeth Eaton about the ELCA’s annual “God’s Work. Our Hands.” event taking place on Sunday, September 7, 2014.
|This event is a unique opportunity for your congregation to look into the future and think about how you will continue to spread the unconditional love and welcome that is so embodied in the message of Christ. You can do this in new and bold ways, better serving your community, living into your RIC commitment by making a positive difference in the lives of LGBT families, friends and loved ones.|
There are many ways that your congregation can participate in this event. The ELCA published a wonderful tool kit at www.elca.or/dayofservice to consult. We encourage you to use this resource in your planning. This toolkit however, is broad in how it presents the event, and this message seeks to give you ideas specific to your commitment as an RIC setting in your neighborhood.
- Your congregation could participate by partnering with ReconcilingWorks and your local school district to create awareness of LGBT bullying and to create an anti-bully message to be spread into the community by hosting a workshop for church and community members as well as elected officials, teachers and school board members. Find the "Where All Can Safely Live" Allies Against Bullying curriculum here.
- Another way for your congregation to participate is by reaching out to a local LGBT community center to start a conversation about needs they may have at their location. Maybe the local center could use some landscaping work. Or perhaps your congregation could volunteer some hours to staff the reception area or phone line. Your congregation’s “God’s Work. Our Hands.” project could respond to those needs. Here is one resource (not comprehensive) to locate your local community center.
With all of our hands working together, we will be an extraordinary witness to the loving God in the LGBT community!
Go in Peace and Serve the Lord!
The Rev. Paul A. Tidemann, a ceaseless advocate for full inclusion of LGBT people in the life of the church and of society, died on Saturday, July 26, 2014, at 77 years old.
The Rev Anita Hill, ReconcilngWorks Regional 3 Coordinator, ordained extraordinarily at a ceremony presided by Paul in 2001, says of her long time mentor, colleague and friend, “Paul was one of the best preachers I have ever heard. A thoughtful theologian, writer, liturgist and pastoral presence, it was an honor and privilege to have served with him. Paul’s saying, ‘There is nothing that one is or one does that can set one outside the active love and grace of God’ is forever etched in my mind.”
Obama signs executive order prohibiting federal contractors from workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and/or gender identity
"Today President Obama signed an executive order prohibiting federal contractors from workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and/or gender identity. Significantly, the president's order does not include any new religious exemptions. While many media outlets have announced this news as protections for gay workers, it's important to note that transgender and bisexual workers are also included in this order. President Obama's action will protect approximately 28 million employees in 24,000 companies that hold federal contracts.
- A new RIC community, Trinity Lutheran Church
- A new RIC community, Christus Rex Lutheran Center
- ReconcilingWorks Celebrates the Life and Ministry of Bishop Emeritus Stanley E. Olson
- Three Lutheran Bishops to Walk in San Diego Pride
- A new RIC community, Zion Lutheran Church
- Conversations at Corner
- Happy Pride
- A new RIC community, Holy Trinity Lutheran Church
- June 22 is Refugee Sunday | LGBT Refugees Share Their Stories
- A new RIC community, King of Kings Lutheran Church