First Lutheran has had a welcome statement for a number of years, that includes a welcome not just to LGBTQ persons, but to all who might feel marginalized in the church. The church realized, however, that the welcome statement was an internal document and people had to find their way to First Lutheran to see they were welcome.
Senior Pastor of First Lutheran Chad Hueber says, "First Lutheran became a reconciling in Christ congregation last year to make a public witness to our invitation, welcome, and full inclusion of our LGBTQ brothers and sisters in Christ."
"By becoming a "reconciling" congregation, we are included among over 700 congregations of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America that can be found through the Reconciling Works website www.reconcilingworks.org, welcoming and inviting LGBTQ individuals and families into the life and ministry of the congregation. It's an external, public witness to our internal practice," according to Pastor Huebner.
Associate Pastor Melissa Bills added, "One of the other things that being an reconciling congregation has done is to open our eyes to the need for ongoing, tangible ways of showing welcome to members of our community. If we say that you are welcome no matter what your economic status, or your politics, or your education level, then what are we doing to show that? Being reconciling is encouraging us to shift the conversation from being a welcoming church to an inviting church, and from an inviting church to a church where we help people find a place - a church where people belong and where their gifts are lifted up and where we feel incomplete as the body of Christ without one another."
"First Lutheran is committed to continue looking for ways to publicly share Christ's welcome for all at His table of grace," says Pastor Hueber.