Greetings from the Welcome and Inclusion Working Group. This is our blog where we will be posting updates on our work and plans for the future. Soon you will see announcements for Bible studies and other fun and educational events related to our work.
We’re eager to connect with each one of you personally, so don’t be surprised if one of us reaches out soon to set up a one-on-one chat. We’re keen to hear about your affection for New Hope and your vision for our future ministries. Sounds exciting, doesn’t it?
Our collective journey is centered around the uplifting Reconciling in Christ (RIC) movement. Have questions about RIC? No problem! We’ve put together some FAQs below to help you understand why it’s a vital part of our ministry’s future. And remember, our team is always ready to chat and answer any questions you might have. The members of the Working Group are:
- Beth Bachman
- Michael Ditsky
- René Garcia
- Heidi Good
- Lisa Gruschkus
- Linda Lyons
- Danny Sigmon
- Barbara Wadzuk
- Andy Wright
We look forward to the future with you!
- The Welcome and Inclusion Working Group (WIWG)
What is RIC?
- Since 1983, the Reconciling in Christ (RIC) Program has been a public way for faith communities to see, name, celebrate, and advocate for people of all races, sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expressions in the Lutheran church. The RIC Program comprises congregations, synods, colleges, seminaries, outdoor ministries, and other Lutheran organizations.
Why do we need to be explicit? All are welcome here and have been welcome here.
- Many LGBTQIA+ people have learned by experience that they are not truly welcome in faith spaces, even in ministry settings that state, “All are welcome here!” A general statement of welcome is often heard as meaning “everybody but me,” (especially when the church has been so dangerous in the past) so it can take a special effort to communicate an authentic welcome to LGBTQIA+ people.
- While New Hope has historically had gay members in the congregation they have often felt the need to hide for a very long time, some attending church together but never feeling comfortable enough to arrive in the same car. Because of the long history the church has with LGBTQIA+ people, even New Hope can be a place of fear and dread even though the hearts of its members are joyful and accepting. Our openness and love need to be explicitly stated so they know that, unlike other churches, this sanctuary is safe.
- Having explicit welcome pledges written in the church documents cements New Hope’s openness to ministry to the LGBTQIA+ community. This is a pledge to always be a safe place for ministry to this community, a pledge to be a spiritual rock, beacon, and home where they can experience the transforming love of Jesus.
Why should New Hope become RIC?
- Becoming RIC creates powerful ministry opportunities for New Hope. Open and accepting congregations are easily accessible in Houston proper but not so much in the suburbs. New Hope has an opportunity to become a place of refuge and growth, of healing and discipleship, of hope and new life for a subset of society to whom the church has been historically hostile.
- Becoming RIC furthers the message that Jesus teaches: to go out of our way to welcome the outcasts; to leave the 99 to help the one that is hurting and heartbroken. Jesus frequently spent time with people who were considered “sinners” by society. That is what makes Jesus’ message so radical and wonderful. Truly everyone is a child of God, and in a world where so many of our fellow Christians have lost sight of that message, it is our duty to follow in Jesus’ footsteps and lead by example.
You will bring God glory when you accept and welcome one another as partners, just as the Anointed One has fully accepted you and received you as his partner. (Romans 15:7)