by Aubrey Thonvold
Since 1974 ReconcilingWorks: Lutherans for Full Participation has been working to deepen and expand the welcome, inclusion, celebration, and advocacy of people of all sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expressions in the Lutheran church. Over those 48 years, there have been countless opportunities for the love of the Divine to transform the lives of God’s people and faith communities in how they see, name, and care for people who have unjustly been excluded from communities of faith simply for who they are and who they love.
The journey of welcome and inclusion is one that needs to be done in community with accompaniment and accountability. At ReconcilingWorks, we believe God values and embraces each person as a beloved child, that the Spirit gives a diversity of gifts for the common good, and that Jesus Christ calls us to work for justice. It is through these values the organization strives to work alongside people and communities of faith as they work to transform their awareness of how to intentionally welcome, include, celebrate, and advocate for their neighbors.
One way ReconcilingWorks accompanies people and faith communities is through our Reconciling in Christ program. Established in 1983, the Reconciling in Christ (RIC) program works to ensure the welcome, inclusion, celebration, and advocacy for people of all sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expressions; work for racial equity and commit to anti-racist work and support the national program. The RIC program is a public way for faith communities to share and live out their values. The RIC program is made up of congregations, synods, colleges, seminaries, outdoor ministries, and other Lutheran organizations. Every faith community begins this journey from their own unique context and ReconcilingWorks strives to support them to create an authentic welcome journey that is customized to their community. Currently, ReconcilingWorks is in partnership with close to 1,000 Lutheran faith communities, representing over 10% of the ELCA through the Reconciling in Christ program.
When we as people of faith remember that God’s love for us is transformational and not transactional, we are liberated to create sacred space for all to be welcome. God’s love for us is a sacred invitation to live with compassion, courage, and freedom to be who we were lovingly made to be. As millions of people celebrate PRIDE season in June, ReconcilingWorks wants to extend an invitation for you to explore how you can deepen and expand the ways in which you and your faith community create space for the love of God to transform your community. Consider discerning how you and your community welcomes, includes, celebrates, and advocates to people of all sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expressions. ReconcilingWorks knows this work requires support and care, so we have created fabulous and diverse resources for outreach and education. To learn more about these resources and the Reconciling in Christ (RIC) program, visit www.reconcilingworks.org.
Together in partnership and community, ReconcilingWorks looks forward to the ways love can transform the Lutheran church. In partnership let our compassion, courage, and liberation create communities that make a way for all to be seen, named, and cared for as they are. This PRIDE season, let’s work together, so no one that God has named beloved feels as if they are unwelcome. Let’s work together to share boldly that God’s table is for all!
Aubrey Thonvold is executive director, ReconcilingWorks.