When I stumbled upon my first Reconciling in Christ (RIC) church at a Pride festival in Idaho, I hadn’t seen an LGBT-friendly Christian church before—and, quite frankly, I didn’t believe it. I marched over to their table to pick a theological fight. When I got there, however, what I found was a group of people who accepted and affirmed my girlfriend and I as both Lesbians and Christians. They were actively involved in the fight for LGBT equality in the Church and in our rural Idaho community, and were so excited to welcome us to their church family. I cried. It was the first time in years that I had felt completely loved and safe in a community of faith.
National Coming Out Day was on October 11th. I spent the day researching churches in Utah to find an RIC church near my little sister, who came out recently. On the sign in front of ECLC is the heart-shaped RIC logo. It’s small but colorful. To people searching for safety, like my sister and I, that symbol says “this is a safe house for you to worship and grow.” There are so many places where it’s not safe to be LGBT. I have lived in communities where it was dangerous to hold hands with my fiancé in public. It is still legal for us to be fired for being gay, or thrown out of our apartment, or denied medical services. Marriage equality has been won, but there is still so much work to be done to make this country a place where our LGBT brothers and sisters don’t have to be afraid.
As an RIC congregation we publicly proclaim that we are a sanctuary in the classical sense—a refuge for those seeking safety—and our God-given mission is to work to make our community safe as well. A church like this is rare to find in many communities. Let us continually cultivate this culture of affirmation within our walls, and proclaim God’s YES to our LGBT brothers and sisters. To learn more about the continued movement for LGBT inclusivity in the ELCA, check out ECLC’s ministry partners, ReconcilingWorks and Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries.