It doesn’t take more than turning on the news, opening a paper, or reading an online article to learn the freedom to marry for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people will soon have a national verdict. Over twenty years of dedicated movement-building has brought America to this moment, and while it will be a great victory, it is one of many that need to be won in order to make welcome and equality a lived experience for LGBT people and their families.
ReconcilingWorks knows this movement-building well. We have paved the way for over 500 Reconciling in Christ (RIC) congregations to publicly welcome people of all sexual orientations and gender identities. We worked to bring policy change to the ELCA in 2009 so that people in same-gender relationships may serve as rostered leaders. We have provided a witness to faith and justice in the ongoing movement for the freedom to marry.
Yet we know the conversation and work of living out the welcome and inclusion of LGBT people within the church is only just beginning. We see evidence of this in the need for the ELCA to convene a Working Group on how to minster to same-gender couples and families. We see evidence in the fact that only five percent of ELCA and ELCIC congregations are RIC. And we see it in the upwards of eighteen states whose legislatures are considering bills that would allow corporations and businesses to deny goods and services to LGBT people based on personally, deeply held religious beliefs.
As the landscape of our culture and our Lutheran communions shift and change, so must ReconcilingWorks. Our mission has been and will remain to embody, inspire, advocate, and organize for the acceptance and full participation of people of all sexual orientations and gender identities within the Lutheran communion and its ecumenical and global partners, striving to dismantle injustice and oppression. We will continue to work with church leaders at the national and congregational level working for full inclusion. We will continue to deepen and expand the RIC program in order for LGBT people and families to have a safe community to worship and to thrive. We will continue to bring a Lutheran voice of faith wherever injustice and oppression are present. ReconcilingWorks is committed to being a leader in the welcoming movement.
However, to meet the needs of the present and prepare ourselves for the future, we know we must revise how this work is done.
The ReconcilingWorks Board of Directors has approved a two-year strategic plan that focuses on the work highlighted above. This plan requires us as an organization to evaluate our programs and make changes to our staffing in order to ensure we remain fiscally sound as we prepare for the future. As a result of this transition, Brett Bowman and the Rev. Anita Hill have left the staff of ReconcilingWorks. From the depth of our shared commitment to our movement and work, we acknowledge and thank Brett and Anita for their faithful dedication to the mission of ReconcilingWorks.
“I’ve been involved with ReconcilingWorks as a volunteer since 1976,” Anita said, “and I imagine I’ll be old and long retired before my volunteer engagement with the ministry of ReconcilingWorks comes to a close. I hope to see hundreds of ReconcilingWorks members, donors, and friends at the 2015 ReconcilingWorks Assembly, July 30–August 2, at Augsburg College in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The theme, Until All Are Free, is close to my heart as I continue to work for LGBT and racial justice and equity.”
As God is doing a new thing in the church and the world, ReconcilingWorks is committed to aligning the staff and organization with the holy work and mission of welcome and inclusion that is before us, bending the arc of history for fuller equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and families. Together, with you as our partner, ReconcilingWorks will continue to strive side by side with the Lutheran communion to make welcome a lived experience in our congregations and our communities.
By the grace of God,
Interim Executive Director