St. Timothy Lutheran Church, a congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, on Oct. 25 will celebrate five years as a Reconciling in Christ community, a community which openly embraces and welcomes all people, regardless of faith history, legal status, economic status, addiction recovery, personal history, marital status, education, age, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, or physical or mental abilities.
Bridget, a long-time member of the St.
Timothy congregation, said, “My partner, who passed away in 2012 after a lengthy battle with ovarian cancer, was taught that homosexuality was a sin, and never felt safe sharing the love we had for one another with her family in faith. I am so thankful that my pastor at the time told me about Reconciling in Christ and sent me to a ‘Building an Inclusive Church’ workshop to start the process for St. Timothy of becoming an RIC congregation.” Bridget emphasizes “We want, no, we need, churches to stand up and say, 'All are truly welcomed and loved regardless of gender identity, regardless of politics, regardless of race, regardless of who loves you and who you love.'”
During 2022, the congregation has put together a series of activities to celebrate. The St. Timothy Reads book discussion group has completed a study on the book Transforming – The Bible & the Lives of Transgendered Christians by Austen Hartke. The book weaves biblical examples of gender nonconformity and transformation with the stories and voices of contemporary trans-Christians. The book group is currently discussing Dear Church: A Love Letter from a Black Preacher to the Whitest Denomination in the US by the Reverend Lenny Duncan, a pastor in the ELCA. Rev. Duncan urges congregations to follow in the revolutionary path of Jesus and offers a blueprint for churches to take on forces of this world that act against God: whiteness, misogyny, nationalism, homophobia, and economic injustice. Other activities planned include an LGBTQ+ movie night on Oct. 16 at 5:30 pm, showing the movie “The Bird Cage.”
“As we approach this five-year anniversary, we have updated our welcoming statement to use more inclusive language; this update reflects not only our affirmation of people from the LGBTQIA+ community, but also provides clarity on our goals to support gender expression and racial justice,” said the Reverend Jennifer Michael, pastor at St. Timothy.
The celebration will culminate during the weekend of Oct. 22-23; the Reverend Kevin L. Strickland, Bishop of the ELCA Southeastern Synod, will preside at both weekend worship services – Saturday night at 5:30 p.m. and Sunday morning at 10:30 a.m., with a reception following the Sunday morning service. Everyone in the community is invited to attend. Bishop Strickland says “Being Reconciled in Christ by designation is far more than something a church puts on its sign; it is a symbolic and active action showing the public that when we say ‘All are Welcome’ we mean all – all because that is when the Kingdom of God is most fully seen and experienced. I am proud of St. Timothy and the witness that they have and continue to provide to offering inclusion to all persons.”