Proud to be Lutheran in Canada!
Our National Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, has recently completed it’s Thirteenth Bienniel National Convention – this year in Saskatoon.
It was a milestone convention: celebrating 25 years as a church (having merged two previous Lutheran bodies, the LCA and ELCC, into one) and 10 years in Full Communion with the Anglican Church of Canada. But perhaps even more significantly, the church in convention moved to be more invitational, more inclusive, more welcoming – passing resolutions that open the doors to same-sex marriage and ordination of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender pastors.
As a congregation that has been “Reconciling In Christ” for over two years, All Saints has endeavoured to be welcoming in this way already – we have a statement of welcome that is clear in its welcome of all people, including those of various sexual orientations and gender identities.
Some may say, “how weren’t you welcoming before?” And I would say that – as a national church – it’s not that we weren’t. However, it wasn’t clear that we were. And, we had policies that dated back decades that prevented us from living out the kind of welcome many of us envisioned for our faith communities. We now have a Social Statement that acknowledges where scholarship and society has been for many years, now: affirming people of sexual orientations other than heterosexual, and genders other than male or female.
It’s necessary to be clear in our welcome because the under-tones of our faith – especially if one might be led towards a literal interpretation of the Bible – have been explicitly negative towards LGBTQ people for a long time. We welcome because we strive for justice. We want to show the grace of God to all as we have experienced in the generous and hospitable living of Jesus.
I know this move in our church could signal a break for some, and that possibility grieves me. My sincere hope is that those who struggle with this will still find a place – and a welcome, of course – in the ELCIC. I look forward to welcoming back those who have not felt welcome, and welcoming new people who did not previously see our Lutheran congregations as ones that might welcome them, now that we have opened our doors in this new way.
As the chorus of one of my favourite hymns goes: “All are welcome, all are welcome, all are welcome in this place!”