Working Towards Full Inclusion: We Have Come A Distance, But We Have a Long Way to Go
When I think of the messages that have been given to LGBTQ2SIA+ members of our church, including several of my friends and family, I am ashamed and broken-hearted. “You are not welcome here. Your gifts are not good enough.”
For all who have been able to hang in and wait until our church finally welcomed you, I give thanks and praise. You have been the voice of the persistent widow who led us to a place 10 years ago where we were able to change policies on both marriage and ordination to include our LGBTQ2SIA+ siblings in Christ.
To those who have left the church and either joined other churches or left the church altogether, I am sorry that we have failed you.
To all of the queerly beloved, I apologize on behalf of our church for our lack of understanding, tolerance, respect and sometimes basic Christian charity.
My thanks to Canada Lutheran for putting together this feature story and for Danika Jorgensen-Skakum (she/her/hers) and Rev. Lindsey Jorgensen-Skakum (they/them/theirs) for collaborating with Shuby Bhattarai (they/them/theirs), Finn Boehm (he/him/his), Rev. Margaret Propp (she/her/hers), Hannah Wingerter (she/her/hers) and Rev. Ralph Carl Wuschke (he/him/his) to share their stories.
Queerly Beloved is a wonderful title for this article. It takes us back to Jesus’ baptism when God spoke: you are my child, the beloved one with whom I am well pleased. In our baptisms God says the same thing about each of us.
For those baptized as infants, the congregation may have no idea about the sexual orientation or gender identity or expression of the sibling in Christ who is now incorporated into the body of Christ. But God does. God loves each and every one of them for who they are and who they will discover themselves to be.
We have come a distance, but we have a long way to go. There are LGBTQ2SIA+ clergy who have found a first call, but many have difficulty finding a subsequent call. Although it is never said this boldly, the message is, “There is no place for an LGBTQ2SIA+ clergy this year in our synod.” LGBTQ2SIA+ lay members may also experience differing levels of welcome in our congregations.
The great civil rights leader Fannie Lou Hamer noted that, “nobody’s free until everybody’s free.”
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. put it this way, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality.”
Let us all commit to working towards the full inclusion of all God’s children in our church.
National Bishop Susan Johnson
Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada