The Lutheran Church of Our Savior in Oakwood has become an RIC ( Reconciling in Christ) church, which means they are officially designated as a church that is welcoming to the LGBTQ community.
Photo: STAFF/FILE
Photo: STAFF/FILE

Oakwood church designated as welcoming to LGBTQ community

On Nov. 10 at a morning service, the church will receive its official certification from the presiding regional official of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).

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RIC programs started in 1983 as a program for Lutheran communities of faith to publicly welcome people of all sexual orientations and gender identities. More than 8oo congregations, synods or campus ministries of the Lutheran church are now on the RIC roster.

Pastor Stefan Rickman said that while some Lutheran denominations are not welcoming, the ELCA, which the Oakwood church is part of, welcomes all people to its congregation.

“You can become a RIC congregation by officially adopting a welcome statement that includes a welcome to all people, but it includes people with evolved gender identities and sexual orientation,” he said.

Rickman said the church is looking forward to joining the congregations around the country who have the RIC designation.

“I have been here 3 years now, and not long after I arrived there was a couple that moved here from Chicago, and they were looking for an RIC Lutheran congregation,” he said.

Rickman said Dayton and Cincinnati didn’t have any.

“There are several in Columbus, but there are none in Southwest Ohio. And so, that is something that I just put out there to our congregation, talking about how we are welcoming,” Rickman said.

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A group of members in the Oakwood church began the welcoming process, and in May the congregation as a whole voted to adopt an RIC statement. The vote was almost unanimous, according to Rickman.

“Even the people who voted against it and weren’t so sure were saying, ‘Why do we need to say this because we are already welcoming?’” the pastor explained. “We had one family in the congregation who were uncomfortable with it so they left, but that’s it, otherwise no, nothing negative at all.”

On Nov. 10 the regional coordinator for the RIC program is going to be in Oakwood and will present the church with the RIC certificate and recognize it as the first in Southwest Ohio.

“We are looking forward to that day of celebration,” Rickman said.

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