Board Approves RIC Designation

TLS Board Approves RIC Designation

Board Approves Trinity’s Designation as an RIC Seminary

At the opening of the Trinity Lutheran Seminary Board of Directors’ spring meeting, the board unanimously approved Trinity’s designation as a Reconciling in Christ seminary; formally affirming the seminary’s welcome to those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ).

Reconciling in Christ (RIC) is a program of ReconcilingWorks, a national Lutheran organization that provides education and assistance to congregations, synods, colleges, and seminaries working to establish a statement of inclusion and acceptance for the LGBTQ community.

“Trinity becoming a Reconciling in Christ Seminary is a bold declaration of our identity and call to respond to the Holy Spirit at work in the world and to live into the promise that all are one in Christ,” said Justin Ferko, a student in Trinity’s Master of Divinity program.

Ferko and classmate Emily Ebert brought together members of the Trinity community last fall to discuss the possibility of becoming an RIC seminary. They were joined in their efforts by Dr. Cheryl Peterson, associate professor of systematic theology, and eventually the group presented a proposal to the board that would establish an official statement of welcome and make adjustments to the seminary’s non-discrimination clause.

“To make a ‘statement of welcome,’ where we acknowledge our call to not only welcome but embrace people of all sexual orientations and gender identities, is a part of living into our identity as a seminary,” said Ebert, a senior in the M.Div. program.

The vote by the board also paved the way for future continuing education programs and collaboration with Equality Ohio, a statewide organization that advocates for fair treatment and equal opportunity for all Ohioans regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

“I am very proud of our students, faculty, and board for not only embracing this movement, but for their acclaim of it. Moreover, my life has been profoundly blessed by the rich gifts and faith of those identifying as LGBTQ on our campus,” said President Rick Barger. “After all does the poet proclaim, ‘On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make a feast for ALL people’? ALL means ALL. May Trinity join those others who are pioneers in transforming the culture of our church and world into one that is radically inclusive of ALL people.”

The ELCA at its churchwide assembly in 2009 voted to ordain clergy who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender and to recognize same-gender unions. However, Ferko said that calls to LGBTQ clergy and resources for same-sex marriage services are limited.

“RIC designation is vital as the seminary forms leaders who embrace LGBTQ people and for me and other students who will be LGBTQ church leaders,” said Ferko.
Students met with board members following the vote and celebrated with rainbow cupcakes.

“It struck us all once again how incredibly proud of and blessed by our students we are,” said Board Chair Carrie Cubberley. “The Trinity Board of directors is proud to stand alongside and to lend our voice and support to our students, faculty, staff, and administration as we all work to live out Trinity’s mission to form leaders for Christ’s church in the world—for the sake of the whole world.”