At the 2016 Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Churchwide Assembly, ReconcilingWorks was a noticeable presence. Beginning of each day, LGBTQ people and allies gathered in prayer lead by an LGBTQ person or ally to affirm the gift of those in the margins, bring to the ELCA. Watch videos of these prayers here: https://www.facebook.com/ReconcilingWorks/videos. Wednesday, August 10, ReconcilingWorks partnered with Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries to host a reception and working gathering asking the question “What do LGBTQ people still need from their church?” As the church looks to the 10th Anniversary of policy change at the 2019 Churchwide Assembly. Attendees were invited to share their assessment of where the current LGBTQ movement is and share what keeps them in the work. To add your voice to this conversation go to www.LGBTQLutheran.org.
The churchwide assembly also passed several memorials which addressed racial and ethnic reconciliation and human rights at the intersection of LGBTQ identities.
Here is a brief digest of the actions taken that directly name LGBTQ people and address the intersection with communities of color:
Worship Resources to Bless Same Gender Couples This memorial bolsters the memorial ReconcilingWorks helped legislate around in 2013. The Office of the Presiding Bishop is currently working on this resource. Once it is published, ReconcilingWorks will be sharing it at https://www.reconcilingworks.org/resources/worship
Gender Identity Currently the ELCA requires individuals to select either “male” or “female” when registering for churchwide assembly and either Mr., Mrs., or Ms. to be printed on name tags and published on the screen when speaking from the microphone at CWA. This memorial by the Sierra Pacific Synod is the beginning of a greater conversation about how to be inclusive to people of all gender identities and expressions.
Affirming Global Human Rights and Nondiscrimination Based on Sexual Orientation The time for this memorial could not be more urgent. Only a week before the churchwide assembly convened, voting members learned that an LGBTQI pride event in Uganda was raided by police resulting in hundreds of people detained and several beaten according to the Africa division of Human Rights Watch. This memorial asks the church to “speak out publicly against human rights violations globally that criminalize homosexuality and against any teachings which encourage persecution in the name of Christ.” ReconcilingWorks is grateful for the ReconcilingWorks Central Florida Chapter and the Florida-Bahamas Synod for their work getting this memorial to churchwide.
Repudiation of the Doctrine of Discovery ReconcilingWorks joins with the ELCA American Indian/Alaska Native Lutheran Association in rejoicing over this memorial. The work is far from over, but this is a great step towards healing and reconciliation with Indigenous communities.
Examining the Opportunities and Implications of Campaign Zero, a policy platform in affirmation of Black Lives Matter LGBTQ bodies come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. This memorial rooted in the #BlackLivesMatter movement calls for the church to “examine the opportunities and implications of Campaign Zero,” (http://www.joincampaignzero.org/) which seeks to end police violence in America by limiting police interventions, improving community interactions, and ensuring accountability.
Deepening Relationships with Historic Black Churches ReconcilingWorks is grateful for this memorial which asks the Presiding Bishop to develop a churchwide strategy to deepen relationships with Historic Black Churches in consult with the African Descent Lutheran Association, the Conference of Bishops, Church Council, and our ecumenical partners.
African Descent Lutherans This memorial names our church’s complicity “in 400 years of enslavement, oppression and marginalization of African descent people and other marginalized populations” by “acknowledging the church has contributed to racial harassment and discrimination against people of African descent through corporate action, policy and practices.” It also is forward facing, calling for a “Declaration of the ELCA to the African Descent Community” by the African Descent Ministries desk, in consultation with the African Descent Lutheran Association. ReconcilingWorks commits itself to lifting up the work of this desk and challenging LGBTQ people to not stand by in complicity as this important work confronting and dismantling the sin of racism happens in our church. For more information and resources on how to partner in this work, visit our Dismantling Injustice page: http://reconcilingworks.org/resources/injustice.
ReconcilingWorks is looking forward to working with the newly elected William B. Horne II, member of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church (RIC), Clearwater, Fla., to the office of vice president of the ELCA. Bill is known as an ally to LBGTQ people and their families.