Dear friends,

You are welcome in congregations of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).

We are a church that believes it is wrong to discriminate against anyone based on sexual orientation. All are welcome. We celebrate diversity.

While Lutherans in the U.S. are not of one mind about sexual orientation, the ELCA, the largest Lutheran denomination in North America, has taken a stand as an open, affirming church where all are welcome.

I recognize that some of you have been wounded by churches. On behalf of the church, I apologize for the hurtful comments, exclusion, and discrimination you have experienced. Churches are filled with hurt people who sometimes hurt people. We are not a perfect church, nor filled with perfect people. We follow Christ who forgives and calls us to be part of a new community beyond race, gender, and social status. The church is an imperfect community of hope.

When asked what was most important in life, Jesus, who never spoke a single recorded word about sexual orientation, said the greatest commandment was to love God and love neighbor. He modeled love of the neighbor and stranger. He said, “By this shall all people know you are my followers, if you love one another.”

I invite you to risk being part of an imperfect church striving to be a Christ-like community. You are welcome.


Michael Rinehart