Local churches welcome LGBT individuals


Photo illustration: Brandi Boyett/Iowa State Daily

Several churches in Ames support and embrace the LGBT community.

Greg Zwiers

Multiple churches in Ames are a part of a new movement called Reconciliation in Christ. The movement encourages the acceptance and  welcoming of all people, especially LGBT individuals.

“Each person is commissioned to go out into the community and wherever they’re at in the community to be that welcoming person and presence,” said Jen Andreas, pastor at Lord of Life Lutheran Church.

Andreas said that the reconciliation movement is a little different from denomination to denomination.

Both the Lutheran and United Methodist movements require a public statement to be written and displayed in the church’s media. Collegiate United Methodist church has a portion of theirs printed in every church bulletin and newsletter, said Jim Shirbroun, their campus minister.

The statements, found on the churches’ respective websites, state that what God, the Bible and the church congregation offer is for everyone.

“We go out to the LGBT Student Services events, like their ice cream social. The things that they’re doing, we make sure there are people from Lord of Life that are part of that,” Andreas said. 

The Lord of Life congregation has assisted with the Midwest Bisexual Lesbian Gay Transgender Ally College Conference and will be doing a Bible study on LGBT issues and stresses advocacy in daily life. 

A goal of the movement is to speak the word of affirmation in daily life, not just tolerance, but actual affirmation, Andreas said.

“We’re not whole if we don’t have those people with those gifts, whether it be LGBT folks and their particular journey, story, their hardships, their joys; that adds to our community,” Andreas said. 

Collegiate United Methodist also has members who go to events through LGBT Student Services, such as the Out 2 Lunch Safe Zone trainings, although Shirbroun said they could always be doing more.

Both pastors have made the decision that they will marry same sex couples; Andreas said she has already done so. 

Even though the local bishop in charge of the Lutheran Synod Lord of Life has expressed the desire for pastors not to do so, Andreas has “not been disciplined.”

Those who are part of the reconciliation movement within United Methodism were let down in May 2012 at the general conference. The national governing body of United Methodism which meets every four years had the opportunity to change its official stance on homosexuality, but made no change, Shirbroun explained.

At the annual conference, a localized version of the general conference, a covenant was developed which stated that those clergy members who signed have agreed to perform same sex marriages as they see fit, said Shirbroun.

Shirbroun said he will treat any homosexual couple looking to be married the same as a heterosexual couple. However, he stressed that marriage is a commitment and he would not marry any couple that just walked in off the street.

“I want to treat gay couples, gay individuals, just the same as I treat any other individual or couple and I hope that we’re working toward that,” Shirbroun said.

From both statements of reconciliation, the point is to include all in the message of God and the community of the church, to recognize their gifts and help with their struggles.

“We’re not just [saying,] ‘Oh, we welcome everybody,’ it’s, no, we want to know exactly who you are, what your struggles are and we take a stand publicly to say we want you here in full inclusion in the church,” Andreas said.