At its annual assembly, The South-Central Synod of Wisconsin (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) voted on April 29, 2017, to extend a specific welcome to people of all sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expressions and be designated as a Reconciling in Christ (RIC) community.
“Of course, it should go without saying that all are welcome in the church as they are, but in today’s culture where hate speech is rampant and acts of discrimination and violence continue against our LGBTQ+ siblings, it is important and necessary to make a public statement of solidarity and full inclusion. I am proud to be a part of a church that says ‘Yes!’ when so much of the world says ‘No!’” Synod Bishop, Mary Froiland said.
The vote was nearly unanimous by approximately 400 voting members.
The synod passed this statement of welcome: “Following Jesus, who commanded his followers: ‘Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another,’ and believing that all persons are created in the image of God, the South-Central Synod of Wisconsin strives to be fully inclusive for all. This synod welcomes people of every race, background, age, political affiliation, economic and social status, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and mental and physical ability and strives to enable all people to participate fully in the life and work of the church and its expressions.”
The South-Central Synod of Wisconsin joins 28 other RIC synods across the map, bringing the total of RIC synods to 29. Learn more about how your synod can become RIC by downloading “Reconciling in Christ Synods: a Synod’s Guide to RIC” here: https://www.reconcilingworks.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/ric-synod-resource.pdf
There are currently 10 RIC faith communities within the synod. Learn more about how your faith community can become RIC: https://ReconcilingWorks.org/RIC
More information about Reconciling in Christ synods
Reconciling in Christ (RIC) synods have extended a public welcome to people of all sexual orientations and gender identities. RIC synods serve as witnesses not only to LGBTQ people in the area, but also to congregations within the synod and to the wider church. The Gospel is indeed for all. Yet, unfortunately, LGBTQ people continue to experience exclusion and harm from people supposedly acting in the name of Christianity. It is important LGBTQ persons are specifically named as part of that “all.”
Within the interdependent nature of the ELCA’s polity, it’s important that people of all sexual orientations and gender identities feel welcome in all aspects of the church’s life. While the synod cannot speak for the welcome offered by individual congregations, it can ensure that the ministries of the synod organization will be inclusive.
In this way, RIC synods partner with the churchwide organization, sharing in the ELCA’s 1995 affirmation of welcome to gay and lesbian people “to participate fully in the life of the congregations” (CA95.06.50) as well as the social statement on sexuality, which “call[s] upon congregations and members of this church to welcome, care for, and support same-gender couples and their families” (Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust, p. 19). RIC synods therefore serve as a witness to the wider Lutheran community and to society at large.
RIC synods also share in the churchwide ministries by extending the ELCA’s formal recognition of ReconcilingWorks as an “Independent Lutheran Organization.” The ELCA recognizes Independent Lutheran Organizations as those that work compatibly with the programs of the ELCA and that fulfill or enhance particular work for the overall life of the church. ReconcilingWorks relates to the ELCA through the Congregational and Synodical Mission unit.
How do RIC Synods live out their affirmation?
RIC synods have formed standing committees or task forces focusing on publicizing and expanding the synod’s journey
of welcome, inclusion, and celebration to people of all sexual orientations and gender identities in many ways, including:
Partnering with ReconcilingWorks to engage congregations and other ministries in the Reconciling in Christ journey of welcome, inclusion, and celebration, supporting and utilizing the national organization and local chapters of ReconcilingWorks and the RIC program.
Serving as a congregational and synodical resource for matters of welcome, inclusion, celebration, justice issues, outreach, and advocacy for all LGBTQ people in the life of the church.
Hosting “Building an Inclusive Church” trainings throughout their synod. Building an Inclusive Church equips you with ways to create dialogue, deepening relationships throughout the congregation rather than sparking debate and division.
Maintaining a directory of resource persons to assist congregations and other ministries as they live out the journey of welcome, inclusion, and celebration together faithfully in dialogue.
Providing resources relevant to welcoming LGBTQ people and their families on the synod’s website.
Emphasizing the synod’s commitment to welcome with synodical events, such as at an annual leadership conference, synod assemblies, workshops, panel discussions, Bible studies, resource tables, and other means of educational and spiritual growth.
Promoting annual “RIC Sunday” worship services and celebrations in the synod newsletter and other outlets.
Advocating (together with the bishop and/or other synod leaders) for public policies that protect LGBTQ people and their families, such as protections against discrimination in the workplace, marketplace and housing; protections against bullying in schools; and immigration equality.