Faith Lutheran leaders promoting inclusiveness

The pastor of Faith Lutheran Church has a dream.

“It’s to take an ad out in a newspaper saying, ‘Come and help us build a new church. You don’t have to bring a hammer. Just bring your passion,’” the Rev. Terry Langdon said, smiling at the idea, as she talked about the inclusiveness being promoted at the church she pastors.

In the new church she envisions, everybody is welcome, including gay, lesbian, bisexual and transsexual believers, those who are questioning their identity and gay pastors and their partners.

The Rev. Terry Langdon: "Come and help us build a new church. You don’t have to bring a hammer. Just bring your passion."

The Rev. Terry Langdon: “Come and help us build a new church. You don’t have to bring a hammer. Just bring your passion.”

This open-arms push began around 1990 and has been evolving. In 2009, Lutheran officials voted to allow ministers to be gay, a move about 10 percent of congregations nationwide opposed so adamantly they left the organization.

Langdon, who is an openly gay pastor, was in seminary, studying to begin a new career, in 2009, when the vote was taken. It pleased her because when she first went to seminary, she was a new convert to Lutheranism, and was taken aback by advice to stay quiet about her lifestyle, and to lie if necessary.

She isn’t currently in a relationship, but said if she becomes involved, “I can be open about it and that’s so much healthier.”

The vote to accept her as pastor in 2010 was majority, about 75 percent, after Faith Lutheran’s former pastor died, explained James Yamakawa, congregational president who, like the Rev. Langdon, is pleased the church has embraced the Reconciling In Christ Program.

Known as RIC, it “recognizes Lutheran communities that publicly welcome lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender believers,” according to www.reconcilingworks.org.

“The complete Reconciling in Christ Roster now exceeds 550 settings, including congregations, synods, colleges, seminaries, and other organizations,” the Web site states.

Faith Lutheran also took adopted an Affirmation of Welcome.

“It means we welcome all persons. We celebrate who you are. They will be accepted in this church and they are safe here. We feel called to getting the word out,” the Rev. Langdon said.

As far as they know, she and Yamakawa said, Faith Lutheran is the only church on the Lower Shore reaching out to the gay community.

“I think it’s important because this part of the Shore is known for being rather conservative. New people coming in might be different, maybe gay and lesbian. It’s hard to become part of the community, so we want to welcome them,” the pastor said.

The church is part of The Lower Shore Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning Coalition, and supports its goals of safety and anti-bullying.

“That’s what we’re called to do,” the pastor said, inviting community dialogue by calling her at the church at 410-742-7002.

Yamakawa said he believes God wants churches to accept everyone.  “Jesus said the greatest commandment is to love your neighbor. We can’t love our neighbor if we don’t do this,” he said.

“We’re attempting to follow what Jesus wants us to do,” Langdon added. “And we have to have the courage of our convictions.”

Reach Susan Canfora at scanfora@newszap.com.

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