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LGBTQ+ Inclusion Task Force Leader: Beth Donahoe
Task Force Members:
Seeley Lester (Youth Representative)
Pastor Lara Forbes
Doug Johnson, Director of Youth and Family Ministries
Meetings: as scheduled
The LGBTQ+ Inclusion Task Force has been formed to explore how we as a congregation should respond to issues of human sexuality, identity and inclusion of what is commonly known as the LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Plus) community.
This task force will provide information and support for our congregation as we move through the process of discerning whether or not to become a designated “Reconciling in Christ” congregation.
We welcome and encourage comments and questions at any time. Please contact any member of the Task Force. Confidentiality will be respected.
Proposed Welcoming Statement
Welcome to Saint Andrew’s Lutheran Church!
Jesus calls us to reconciliation and wholeness in a world full of alienation and brokenness. Being transformed by the love of God to direct our actions, we seek to live out our church’s mission statement: “Growing together in Christ to love and serve all people.”
Because God’s love upholds, sustains, and embraces all people, we are committed to welcoming everyone regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, race, culture, neurodivergence, ability, age, addiction, relationship status, economic circumstance, or other distinction. Each person is a unique creation and child of God deserving of acceptance and celebration.
We welcome you to our congregation and invite you to participate in all aspects of our community—including baptism and communion, education and fellowship, leadership and service, and weddings and memorials.
Believing that the grace of Jesus can heal us from fear, prejudice, and hate, we journey with Christ and seek to follow His example of unconditional love. Join with us in the work against racism and discrimination in all forms: institutional, systemic, and personal. We will hold ourselves accountable—individually and collectively—to love our neighbor as ourselves through ongoing education, advocacy, and the intentional pursuit of physical, emotional, and spiritual safety, and justice and equity for all.
Reconciling in Christ (RIC) Partners Public Commitments
The purpose of the RIC Program is to ensure the welcome, inclusion, celebration, and advocacy for people of all sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expressions; work for racial equity and commit to anti-racist work and support the national program. RIC Partners Public Commitments are:
1) Your community explicitly states a welcome to people of “all sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expressions” or “LGBTQIA+” and names its commitment to “racial equity” or “anti-racism” in its welcoming statement.
2) Your community must be open to calling an LGBTQIA+ and Black, Indigenous, Person of Color (BIPOC) Rostered leader.
3) Will allow community space/sanctuary to be used for LGBTQIA+ weddings and blessings.
4) Will make a meaningful contribution annually to the national RIC program.
More Information about the Welcoming Statement and RIC Commitments
Our Welcoming Statement is one of the necessary steps in the Reconciling In Christ (RIC) process. The proposed Welcoming Statement above has been endorsed by the full Congregational Council at its October 11 meeting, and the statement, along with the other RIC commitments (above), was discussed at the October 17 Discipleship Hour Forum.
It is our group’s intention to present this statement at the January 2022 Congregational Meeting where our church members will then vote on whether or not to become an RIC congregation. If approved, Saint Andrew’s will become a partner church with ReconcilingWorks: Lutherans for Full Participation, the national advocacy organization whose mission is to achieve full equity and inclusion for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and asexual/aromantic Lutherans in all aspects of the life of their Church, congregations, and community. We will be listed on the ReconcilingWorks website as an RIC congregation and it will be declared publicly on our website and other church documents that we are a safe and welcoming place for all people.
We welcome and encourage your questions and comments. We would also encourage you to visit the ReconcilingWorks website at www.reconcilingworks.org for more helpful information, videos, and resources. We look forward to talking with you.
Our education process includes…
Discipleship Forums on Sundays:
Forum | October 17, 2021
“LGBTQ+ Reconciliation: Speakers Bureau” | April 18, 2021
“What the Bible Does and Does Not Say About LGBTQ+” | March 7, 2021
“Love is Love” | February 14, 2021
“Introduction to Reconciling in Christ” | September 27, 2020
Our past Forums were led by Pastor Rick Pribbernow and introduced the ELCA’s program of Reconciling in Christ and provided a broad overview of the process to become a Reconciled in Christ congregation. Additionally, they have covered a brief history and insight into the LGBTQ+ community and the long battle for civil rights and examined Biblical and theological perspectives on the subject. The Speakers Bureau featured people from the LGBTQ+ community and those whose congregations have been through the Reconciling in Christ (RIC) process.
Prior to 1890s: Being gay was a crime punishable by death. Homosexual men were often mutilated and/or burned at the stake.
1895: English author and playwright Oscar Wilde was imprisoned for sodomy. Imprisonment was the standard punishment, but it no longer carried a death sentence.
1930s-1950s: Homosexuality was considered a mental illness, resulting in imprisonment or commitment to institutions. People were “outed” without their permission, fired from their jobs, evicted from homes, and had their lives ruined. During WWII, in Nazi Germany, Adolf Hitler labeled homosexuals “dissidents” and they were consigned to concentration camps. Their clothing was marked with an inverted pink triangle, similar but distinct from the Jewish Star of David, and they were kept apart from other prisoners. The men were forced to do the worst jobs in the camp and the women were the subjects of experimentation. In modern times, the pink triangle has been reappropriated from the Holocaust and is now a symbol of gay pride and unity. It is commonly used in schools by the Safe Schools Coalition as a signifier that a student is safe to discuss issues of sexuality and gender identity.
1969: The Stonewall Uprising. Until 1966, it was illegal in New York City to sell alcohol to a “known homosexual.” The gay community established private clubs so they could dance and socialize with friends, as “homosexual activity” was still illegal after 1966. These clubs were routinely raided by police with owners and patrons being arrested. In late June of 1969, another raid took place, during a memorialization of the recently deceased Judy Garland. On this occasion, however, the patrons fought back, resulting in a riot that lasted six days. Many view this as the first gay rights action and Gay Pride month is in June for this reason. The Stonewall Inn is now a national landmark (designated by President Obama).
1970: First Gay Pride March took place in San Francisco.
1971: The Gay Pride rainbow flag was introduced.
1973: The American Psychiatric Association (APA) removed the diagnosis of “homosexuality” from the second edition of its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM).
1980s: HIV/AIDS epidemic takes hold in US. Seen initially as a “gay cancer,” the gay community is further stigmatized, marginalized, and victimized. As of 2016, more than 675,000 people, both gay and straight, have died of HIV/AIDS in the US, including men, women, and children. Great strides have been made in the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS, and it is no longer the imminent death sentence it used to be. A greater challenge now is the toxicity from the cocktail of medications required.
National Center for Biotechnology Information (nih.gov)
1985: The idea for the NAMES quilt was created, with the project officially beginning in 1987, to honor and memorialize those who died from AIDS-related causes. As of 2020, it is the largest piece of community folk-art in the world, weighing an estimated 54 tons.
2009: ELCA permits ordination of gay clergy so long as they are in a committed, monogamous relationship. No such restriction is placed on straight clergy. Prior to this, the synod’s policy was more akin to “don’t ask, don’t tell” with most gay clergy remaining closeted.
2012: The Marriage Equality Act is passed in Washington State, legalizing Same Sex Marriage, making us one of the first states to do so via popular vote.
2015: The US Supreme Court legalized same sex marriage on June 26, 2015.
People over definitions: If you don’t know which identity terms, pronouns, or titles to use, and find yourself getting “stuck” on terms, re-center yourself on the fact that you are talking to a person. It is also OK to ask which pronouns one prefers, just to avoid using gendered terms. Remember, all you need to welcome someone is their name.
|BIPOC||Acronym for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color|
|Cisgender||A term used to describe a person whose gender identity aligns with those typically associated with the sex assigned to them at birth and how they present to the world.|
|When someone, intentionally or not, refers to a transgender person by the name they used before they transitioned. It may also be described as referring to someone by their “birth name” or “given name.” However, these descriptions invalidate the individual’s choice and could even possibly “out” them as transgender. (See “Outing” and “Microaggressions” below.)|
|Drag||A drag queen is a person, usually male, who uses clothing and makeup to imitate and often exaggerate female gender signifiers and gender roles for entertainment purposes. Historically, most drag queens have been men dressing as women. In modern times, drag queens are associated with gay men and gay culture, but they can be of any gender and sexual identity.|
|Gender Dysphoria||Clinically significant distress caused when a person’s assigned birth gender is not the same as the one with which they identify. This is still listed in the DSM V as a mental illness for purposes of diagnosis, treatment, and insurance coverage.|
|Gender Expression||External appearance of one’s gender identity, usually expressed through behavior, clothing, body characteristics or voice, which may or may not conform to socially defined behaviors and characteristics typically associated with being either masculine or feminine.|
|Gender Identity||One’s innermost concept of self as male, female, a blend of both or neither—how individuals perceive themselves and what they call themselves. One’s gender identity can be the same as or different from their sex assigned at birth.|
|Gender Non-conforming||A broad term referring to people who do not identify or behave in a way that conforms to the traditional expectations of their gender, or whose gender expression does not fit neatly into the category. While many also identify as transgender, not all gender non-conforming people do.|
|Gender Transition||A process some transgender people undergo to match their gender identity more closely with their outward appearance. This can include changing clothes, names, or pronouns to fit their gender identity. It may also include healthcare needs such as hormones or surgeries.|
|HIV/AIDS||Human Immunodeficiency Virus, the virus that causes AIDS, or Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome. HIV can be transmitted through blood, semen, vaginal secretions, and breast milk.|
|Homophobia||The fear and hatred of or discomfort with people who are attracted to members of the same sex.|
|Intersectionality||A concept to describe the ways in which oppressive institutions (racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, xenophobia, classism, etc.) are interconnected and overlapping to compound discrimination and disadvantage. The term was first coined by Kimberle Crenshaw in 1989.
|LGBTQI+AA||Lesbian: a female identifying person attracted to other female identified individuals.|
|Gay: a male identifying person attracted to other male identified individuals. (Gay is also used by women and non-binary people to describe themselves.)|
|Bisexual (or Bi): a person whose sexual or romantic attraction is not limited to people of one particular gender.|
|Transgender (or Trans): a person whose self-experienced gender does not match the sex they were assigned at birth.|
|Queer: a person who does not subscribe to conventional gender distinctions, but identifies with neither, both, or a combination of male and female genders. This term has been used as a slur but has been reclaimed by the LGBTQ community. The “Q” can also stand for Questioning.|
|Intersex: a person who was born with a combination of male and female biological traits. A child who does not go through puberty or someone who, later in life, develops secondary characteristics, e.g., a woman who grows a full beard or a man who lactates. This term has replaced the archaic “hermaphrodite.”|
|Asexual (or Ace): A person whose sexual orientation is characterized by a lack of sexual attraction toward a person of any gender.|
|Ally: Any straight, cisgender person who is supportive of the LGBTQIA+ community.|
|Microaggression||A statement, action, or incident regarded as an instance of indirect, subtle, or unintentional discrimination against members of a marginalized group. For example, using slang, the wrong pronouns, or the wrong name. (See “Pronoun Usage”)|
|Non-binary||A person who does not identify exclusively as a man or woman.|
|Outing||Exposing someone’s LGBTQ+ identity to others without their permission. Outing someone can have serious repercussions on employment, economic stability, personal safety, or religious and family situations.|
|PrEp||Short for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, PrEp is a once-daily pill that reduces the risk of acquiring HIV. It is an FDA-approved medication and sold under the brand name Truvada.|
|Pronoun Usage||Pronouns in the English language are gender-based (he/she), but this is not always accurate for a person who does not identify as their sex as assigned at birth. When someone asks you to use their preferred pronouns, they are asking you to respect their identity. When someone refers to another person using the wrong pronouns, especially on purpose, that can lead to feelings of disrespect, dysphoria, exclusion, and alienation. Cisgender individuals can normalize the stating of preferred pronouns by including their own in correspondence and conversation. Examples of preferred pronouns beyond he/him and she/her are they/them and xi/xir (pronounced zee/zer).|
|Sex/Gender Assigned at Birth||The sex (male or female) given to a child at birth, most often based on the child’s external anatomy.|
|Sexual Confirmation Surgery or Gender Affirming Surgery
||Hormonal and sometimes surgical procedures that a transgender person may choose to undergo to obtain the physical characteristics that match their gender identity. (Previously referred to as a “sex change” or “sexual reassignment.”)|
|Sexual Orientation||An inherent or immutable enduring emotional, romantic, or sexual attraction to other people. Note: an individual’s sexual orientation is independent of their gender identity.|
|Transvestite||Outdated and usually derogatory term to describe someone who prefers to dress in the clothing usually associated with the other sex. Cross-dressing is the more preferred term. This should not be confused with transgender.|
Reconciling Works: Lutherans for Full Participation is a national organizationOpen Door Ministries
Open Door Ministries is our local synod ministry. Phone: 206-628-0946PFLAG
PFLAG: Nation’s first and largest organization for LGBTQ+, their parents, families and alliesGSA Network
GSA: Formerly Gay Straight Alliance, now Genders & Sexualities Alliance Network. A “next generation” LGBTQ racial and gender justice organization that empowers and trains queer, trans and allied youth leaders to organize for safer schools and communitiesGSBA
Greater Seattle Business Alliance: Washington state’s LGBTQ and allied chamber or commerceWGA
WGA: Washington Gender Alliance. All volunteer and community-oriented organization dedicated to helping people deal with issues of gender, identity, and/or expression, be it in their own or someone in their livesGLOBE
GLOBE (GLBTQ Loving Ourselves, Becoming Empowered) Links: Snohomish group creating an affirming, equal, just and unified community of LBTQ youth, adults, and allies
Reconciling Scripture for Lutherans, by Reconciling Works (This is a pamphlet available for purchase from Reconciling Works, the national office headquartered in Minneapolis, www.reconcilingworks.org)
Homosexuality & Christian Faith: Questions of Conscience for Churches,by Walter Wink
That All Shall be Saved: Heaven, Hell, and Universal Salvation, a new translation of the New Testament,by David Bentley Hart
One Coin Found: How God’s Love Stretches to the Margins, by Emmy Kegler and Rachel Held Evans
A Place at the Table, by Mel White
Stranger at the Gate: To be Gay and Christian in America, by Mel White
The Word is Out, by Chris Glasser
Changing Our Minds by David Gushee
Many of you will recall the process our congregation went through as we prepared to call a new pastor. Using focus groups, surveys and interviews, we ascertained the concerns and aspirations for Saint Andrew’s. Our congregation agreed that our mission is “Growing in Christ to Love and Serve All People.”
In light of our mission, some members have questioned how we should respond to issues of human sexuality, identity and inclusion of what is commonly known as the LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Plus) community. To help us, the Congregation Council designated a task force to provide information and support for our congregation.
The task force is aware that some members are ready to welcome this discussion; others have significant concerns and many have questions. We need forums for the congregation to examine differing perspectives and listen honestly to one another. Helping to facilitate this was Pastor Rick Pribbernow, former Chaplain/Director of Open Door Ministries, a Lutheran ministry of consultation and pastoral care for sexual orientation and gender identity in our synod. Our first forum was held September 27, 2020, via Zoom.
We have resumed this conversation in 2021 with additional forums and Bible Studies. This page will have resources and suggested links to learn more.
If you have any questions or concerns, please feel welcome and safe in contacting Beth Donahoe or any of the task force members. If desired, your communications will be held in strict confidence and your comments will not be associated with your name. Pastor Lara and Doug Johnson, Director of Youth and Family Ministries, are serving as advisors to our group and are also available.