Wartburg Seminary Board of Directors Approves Designation as an RIC Seminary

As approved by its Board of Directors in June, 2016, Wartburg Theological Seminary (WTS) officially identifies itself as a Reconciling in Christ (RIC) seminary. This designation of welcome makes clear that people who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer are welcomed and affirmed.

In service to the gospel of Jesus Christ for a world created for communion with God and in need of personal and social healing, WTS offers hospitality and welcome to all who participate in and support the seminary’s academic programs and worship-centered community. Our welcome embraces people of every race, nation, ethnic origin, age, social class, cultural background, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and physical ability. The practice of this wide welcome among us embodies the seminary’s longstanding and enduring commitment to being an inclusive community that reflects God’s reconciling purpose in Jesus Christ.

At WTS, the practice of wide welcome and our commitments to ongoing dialogue and mutual respect go hand in hand. “The faculty of Wartburg Theological Seminary has long affirmed the full participation of LGBTQ students in the life of our school and community,” says Academic Dean Craig L. Nessan. “I rejoice that the day has now arrived for us to make this commitment public through the action of our faculty and board in becoming a Reconciling in Christ community.” President, Louise Johnson adds, “As we live into the calling we have to be followers of Christ, may this commitment to be an RIC community be part of the reconciliation we seek with our sisters and brothers in Christ across the church who know the pain of discrimination, hatred and violence.”

WTS students who are members of Proclaim (a professional community for Lutheran pastors, rostered lay leaders and seminarians who publicly identify as LGBTQ) helped start the RIC process. This initiative stems from the reality that people of differing sexual orientations and gender identities are often marginalized and not welcomed in segments of the church. Mack Patrick, WTS’s 2015–2016 Proclaim student representative who initiated this conversation, said, “Having Wartburg become an RIC seminary testifies to the community’s inclusivity. It means that those who identify as LGBTQ are in a safe and welcoming place.”

In the Fall (2016), the Community Life Committee will host a convocation for the Wartburg Seminary community to learn about, engage in, and have open dialogue about the meaning of being RIC for us both as a seminary and as leaders in the church.

Wartburg Theological Seminary is one of eight theological seminaries of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and is accredited by the Association of Theological Schools and the Higher Learning Commission. Wartburg educates women and men to serve the church’s mission as ordained and lay leaders. Established in Dubuque, Iowa in 1854, Wartburg Seminary is in its 163rd academic year.

Reconciling in Christ (RIC) is a program of Reconciling Works, a national Lutheran organization. Wartburg Seminary joins over 600 other ELCA communities, congregations, institutions, and theological seminaries that welcome and affirm the LGBTQ community.