A Reconciling in Christ Church (RIC) is a designation within the ELCA for churches that welcome and affirm people of the LGBTQ community into all aspects of the church’s life as expressed in the welcoming statement of our website. We represent a small but growing movement within the world communion of Christianity that looks at community and growth with this inclusive vision in mind.
When Good Shepherd decided to become a Reconciling in Christ Church, it chose to live into the exciting challenge of defying the norm of most religious institutions and nations throughout the world that say you have to look, believe, and behave a certain way if you wish to be a part of us and live a productive life. To such requirements, Good Shepherd responds that this is not how we understand the way of God and the love of Christ.
In a world where homosexuality is still considered a crime punishable by imprisonment or death in many nations; where clergy are disciplined, stripped of their ordination or excommunicated for officiating same-sex weddings; where members of the LGBTQ community are led to feel like irredeemable sinners because of their orientation, we here at Good Shepherd, in being a Reconciling in Christ Church, choose to acknowledge and embody a presence of God that shows no partiality (Acts 10:34), and looks not on outward appearances but on the heart (1st Samuel 16:7).
As a way of letting the wider community in which we live know that Good Shepherd is a Reconciling in Christ church, I have included us among a worldwide ecumenical listing of welcoming congregations under the website Gaychurch.org , which includes Ascension Lutheran Church in South Burlington and Trinity Lutheran Church in Brattleboro. We shall soon be listed among them. Such congregations may not be officially recognized within their respective denominations as a welcoming or affirming or reconciling church but if, according to their pastors, they treat “a homosexual person no differently than any other person,” they are included within this website. In that our church affirms the involvement of LGBTQ people in all aspects of our ministry and conducts same-sex marriages, we would be acknowledged as a “Fully Affirming Church.”
Rev. Dr. Arnold Isidore Thomas
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