Bridget's "Reconciling in Christ" Story

May 24, 2022
Bridget, a members St. Timothy, Hendersonville, TN, shares the importance of the ministry of Reconciling Works and the value of what being a Reconciling in Christ congregation can mean...

On October 25, 2022 St. Timothy will celebrate 5 years as an RIC church.   There are activities planned between June and October.  We will have a book discussion group starting on June 12th and going through the end of August.  The first book we will discuss is Transforming – The Bible & the Lives of Transgendered Christians. The second book is Reconciling Scripture for Lutherans- Sexuality and Gender Identity.  We will have an LGBTQ+ movie night.  We will be updating our welcoming statement to use more inclusive language which will then be presented to the congregation to vote whether to accept the changes.  The celebration will culminate the weekend of October 22-23. Bishop Strickland will preside at the service both Saturday and Sunday with a reception to rival Pastor Jennifer’s installation. Other churches and friends will be invited. The work that was done to get St. Timothy to this point is paying off.  It was some hard work, especially in the very beginning. The question that got asked of me as a council member making the request to start a Reconciling in Christ Task Force, was “ We’re already welcoming, we have a sign, why do we have to be specific to the LGBT community?”  What follows is a story I told at my first Building an Inclusive Church workshop. It is an answer to that question.

On December 31, 2012 my partner, Teresa, died after a 7 year battle with ovarian cancer.  Throughout this journey, members of St. Timothy ELCA in Hendersonville, TN were most supportive.  Pastor Lewis was extraordinary in his compassion and companionship.  But the most amazing part, that while a few suspected that Teresa and I were more than friends, most did not. 

Teresa was raised in the Church of Christ.  She had it drilled into her that homosexuality is a sin.  She heard family and church members talk about queers, the snide remarks, the bad jokes, the disgust.  This stayed with her throughout her life.  Although she could not deny herself that love that all of us seek, it was a love that she shared with few.  She would not even share it with our pastor, one of the most liberal pastors I have ever met.  I loved her and I really, really liked her and I respected her closet.  I respected that closet until a year before her death.  I knew that I would need folks to know that Teresa was my partner for them to fully understand the depths of my grief.  I came out to Pastor Lewis.   And Teresa died never having shared with her family and many of her friends something/someone so important in her life –me and our love for each other.

After Teresa’s death, Pastor Lewis told me about the Reconciling in Christ program. And he sent me to a Building an Inclusive Church workshop in San Antonio, TX.  I was fortunate that pastor saw a way for me to productively channel my grief.

No one’s child should learn to hate others or themselves – especially not from a church.  It breaks my heart that Teresa did not feel safe in sharing the love that we had for each other with our church family not even our pastor.  How terrible to have received such a wonderful gift and not feel safe to share it. How sad to be so afraid of rejection by not only her family by blood but also her family in faith because she loved and was loved. 

From that love comes my dedication to this cause of helping my church to be Reconciled in Christ.  It was said when our RIC process was first beginning – “We already have a welcoming statement that welcomes everyone.”  And I say but Teresa did not know you meant her.  After a lifetime of learned fear, Teresa did not realize you meant her.  This is why we need the Reconciling in Christ program.  We want, no, we NEED, churches to stand up and say, “All are truly welcomed and loved regardless of gender identity, regardless of politics, regardless of race, regardless of who loves you and who you love.”  
 

If you are interested in learning more about Reconciling Works and the resources available, visit their website, here:  

​https://www.reconcilingworks.org/