RIC: It's about being Church
I've been happily busy doing promotion for the upcoming Reconciling in Christ Facilitator training, so I thought I may as well promote it to you, too.
Back up a step: Reconciling in Christ is a roster of congregations, institutions, agencies which are publicly and intentionally welcoming of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, and allies. For reasons I can name but not understand, why this is such a problem is beyond me, but it is a difficult conversation in many places. So, Lutherans Concerned/North America has developed an extensive and very effective process to use so that this conversation will be transforming rather than divisive, no matter the outcome. Next January 12-15 (2007) training for this process will be held in Austin. I highly recommend it to any of you who are committed to having this conversation and seeing change happen in your congregations. It is not something you can wait for someone else to do. There are very few denominations and congregations that welcome GLBTQA openly; the express welcome stated publicly by an RIC congregation can make a huge difference in the life of someone who doesn't think he or she can go to church or be loved by God. So, go to www.lcna.org for more info and to register, and come to the training!
Tonight our group went to Lutheran Campus Ministry at UT. They are one of only 3 congregations out of 175 in our synod which are RIC. Actually, they aren't officially a congregation, but they are committed to outreach to and inclusion of GLBTQA in their ministry. About 50 students came to dinner; 5 stayed for the presentation about RIC. Next week I'll be doing a presentation at LCM-Texas State.
Besides the fact that I have a heart for young adults, I believe you are so important in this conversation because the issue is framed entirely differently in your reality, and it isn't as scary or prohibited as a general topic of conversation. I also know that you will be active in congregations, and valued there for your leadership, and you can make a difference in which of your friends are welcome to attend worship with you. RIC frees a congregation to be what church should be: followers of Jesus gathered together for worship, prayer, and service. Many congregations who decide to be RIC discover that this difficult conversation makes them stronger as a whole and opens doors to many "others" who formerly did not feel welcome. To me, we are most faithful when we look like the body of Christ, which means no one is left out.
I hope you will consider attending this training. At least go to the web site and learn more about RIC. Maybe there's an RIC congregation in your area--maybe you'll intern at one, or lead one to being RIC. Now is the time!