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Reconciling in Christ

Welcome Statement Approved

At a special congregational meeting Sunday, September 29, the congregation voted 167-13 to approve a new Welcome Statement recommended by the Reconciling in Christ (RIC) Task Force. The vote also recommends to the Board they authorize Good Shepherd to become a Reconciling in Christ affiliated church.

Read more in this update from Pastor Chris Enstad and Board President Andrew Seaborg

Our Welcome Statement

“We welcome all to Good Shepherd. Everyone. Without exception. This welcome includes those shunned by society and by churches because of their race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, physical or mental abilities, financial resources, and family status, no matter what you have done or has been done to you, no matter what darkness you have struggled with, now or in the past. 

In this large, beautifully diverse world, we invite you to a community where we all belong. Whether you are a believer, a doubter or a seeker, in Christ’s love, we welcome you. By the power of the Holy Spirit we will work to extend God’s grace, love, justice, and dignity inside and outside our church. 

You are a Child of God. You belong here with your whole self. Your story and your life are valuable, here at Good Shepherd, and in the world. We welcome you.”

Questions on the Welcome Statement?

Click here for an FAQ on the statement

About the Reconciling in Christ Task Force

Reconciling in Christ

Good Shepherd’s Reconciling in Christ (RIC) Task Force is exploring to what degree our congregation extends a welcome and a message of belonging to people of all races, socio-economic circumstances, sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions, political affiliations, and levels of belief or doubt.

Unfortunately, these groups continue to experience exclusion and harm. Even churches that declare “All are welcome” often demonstrate to these societally marginalized groups that the welcome does not include them. For this reason, the invitation must specifically mention such groups. Many of our new and longstanding members speak of the welcome they felt when first walking through our doors and how that impacted their decision to make Good Shepherd their church home. This task force is the next step in our congregation’s commitment to hospitality for all people.

The RIC Task Force has been recognized by the Good Shepherd Board and has collaborated with Good Shepherd’s Leadership Team, conducting over 50 conversations with church members and leaders about deepening and expanding our public welcome. Feedback has been positive; expressing a desire to walk this journey together as we learn more about who we are. Engaging in a welcoming process will deepen the faith life of Good Shepherd.


What does it mean to become a Reconciling in Christ congregation?

Adopting the Welcome Statement and becoming a Reconciling in Christ congregation means Good Shepherd will provide pastoral services; including marriages, baptisms and communion, to all members and guests equitably, regardless of gender, race or sexual orientation.

Reconciling Works

The process Good Shepherd’s RIC Task Force is following for gracefully engaging ELCA congregations comes from Reconciling Works, a Lutheran organization that has been doing this work since 1974.

Connect with the RIC Task Force

Name Church/Time
1. Syrenne McNulty  - Madison
2. Bjorn Hanson - Madison
3. Katie Wagner - Verona
4. Ellen Franzone -  Madison
5. Diane Kohrs  - Madison/Verona
6. Guy Schroeder - Verona
7. Shannon Kunstman -  Verona
8. Tom Golden  - All
9. Kayla Peterson - Verona
10. Debbie Schmidt - Madison

Resources as we begin our journey to live into our Welcome Statement


The RIC Task Force introduced the Exploratory Survey to the congregation in the following video.

A CROSS-Cultural Conversation about Marriage

This study was led by Mark Renner, Good Shepherd's part-time visitation pastor and retired ELCA pastor and chaplain. The class focused on the questions, "How does the church think and deal with marriage in an age when marriage has multiple forms and meanings in the social order?" Review session outlines and materials here.

Queer Eye Screening:

"God Bless Gay"

This screening is available to your small group or bible study group. To arrange contact us at RIC@gslcwi.com.

Watch Mama Tammye, a devoutly religious woman with a gay son and a giving heart. We will witness the journey of Mama Tammye and her community as they explore what it means to love as Jesus taught us to love. This touching Christian story encompasses relationships, hospitality, race, gender, acceptance, exclusion and healing.

Adult Study: Dialogues On: Sexuality

This class has ended. If your small group is interested in study materials please contact Pastor Dara Schuller-Hanson, dschuller@gslcwi.com

You are invited to participate in “Dialogues On: Sexuality”, a 4-session study led by Pastor Dara Schuller-Hanson and sponsored by the Reconciling in Christ Task Force. Topics will include: “What are people of God called to do”? “What does it mean to be a Welcoming Church”? “Language, Identity and the Power of Words”. We will engage in conversation about race, gender and sexuality and learn how to respectfully converse with our peers. Through discussion we will grow in community and relationship with each other.

Our individual and collective discussion will determine what kind of welcome we create here at Good Shepherd. 

The realities of the gay lifestyle

Published by Christians Talk

Book: A Bigger Table: Building Messy, Authentic and Hopeful Spiritual Community

By John Pavlovitz

A copy of this book is now available in the Good Shepherd Libraries at the Madison & Verona campus

No one likes to eat alone; to approach a table filled with people, only to be told that despite the open chairs there isn't room for you. The rejection stings. It leaves a mark. Yet this is exactly what the church has been saying to far too many people for far too long: "You're not welcome here. Find someplace else to sit." How can we extend unconditional welcome and acceptance in a world increasingly marked by bigotry, fear, and exclusion?

More about the book here

Changed Hearts

An excerpt from the October 2018 issue of Gather
—by Judith Roberts

The day we purchased our house, we loaded boxes, furniture, toys and clothes onto my uncle’s truck. I was so excited.

Our caravan of cars and trucks drove five miles north of the city of Hartford to our new home. Once we arrived, I played outside and watched the white families in the neighborhood pass by. No one spoke. No one stopped to lend a hand. No one waved. Though I was only 5, I knew we were unwelcome.


Guide to Terminology

The words we use to talk about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people and issues can have a powerful impact on our conversations. The right words can help open people’s hearts and minds, while others can create distance or confusion. Designed for those who want to support LGBT Americans but often face an array of confusing terminology and language, this short guide offers an overview of essential vocabulary, terms to avoid, and a few key messages for talking about various issues.

Click to read "An Ally's Guide to Terminology

Change Keeps on Changing

An excerpt from the May 1, 2018 issue of Cafe
by Angela T. Khabeb

God’s promises are not contingent upon gender. A mother walks with her child through changes.

I’m surrounded by change. I look outside my window and notice the familiar sight of leaves changing colors. Daylight is fleeting as night arrives earlier and stays longer. It’s almost as if autumn is Mother Nature’s ambassador for change. Not only is change swirling around me, but it is also stirring from within me.

Click to read more

January 2019 update from the RIC Task Force

Good Shepherd is currently in step 6 of an 11 step process. This step is focused on providing educational opportunities for congregation discussion...

Click here to read the complete update

Recommended Resources from Reconciling Works:

Reconciling in Christ Frequently Asked Questions

Our Congregation is already Welcoming. Why do we need to say so?

Lutheran Introduction to our Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, & Queer Neighbors

ELCA Social Statements

A Social Statement on Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust

The statement provides guidance on key matters, such as marriage, family, same-gender relationships, protection of children and youth, sexuality and the self, sexual intimacy and cohabitation. It addresses issues of sexuality in the public square, the work place and within the church. This social statement was adopted by the 2009 ELCA Churchwide Assembly. Additional information available here.

Moral Deliberation

“As a community of moral deliberation, the Church seeks to ‘discern what is the will of God — what is good and acceptable and perfect’ (Romans 12:2). Christians struggle together on social questions in order to know better how to live faithfully and responsibly in their callings.


Local transgender kids strive to live as the people they were meant to be

From a Madison Magazine post, January 24, 2019
—by Maggie Ginsberg

More and more children are openly identifying as a gender that’s different or more complex than the sex they were born into. About 9,000 Wisconsin middle school- to high school-aged kids self-identify as transgender, nonbinary and gender expansive/nonconforming, or TNG. Some families of TNG kids — ages 4 to 15 across Dane, Jefferson and Rock counties — talk about who they are, what they need and why it matters.


God shows up as one of the marginalized

From the December 3, 2018 article of Bold Cafe
—by Emily Heitzman

This first Christmas was not a magical holiday homecoming story full of family turkey dinners, carol singing and football games. It did not involve decorating trees, baking cookies and opening wrapped gifts.

Rather, the first Christmas is a refugee story.


Transforming: The Bible & the Lives of Transgender Christians

A copy of this book is now available in the Good Shepherd Libraries at the Madison & Verona campus

In 2014, Time magazine announced that America had reached “the transgender tipping point,” suggesting that transgender issues would become the next civil rights frontier. Years later, many people—even many LGBTQ allies—still lack understanding of gender identity and the transgender experience. Into this void, Austen Hartke offers a biblically based, educational, and affirming resource to shed light and wisdom on this modern gender landscape.

Transforming: The Bible and the Lives of Transgender Christians provides access into an underrepresented and misunderstood community and will change the way readers think about transgender people, faith, and the future of Christianity. By introducing transgender issues and language and providing stories of both biblical characters and real-life narratives from transgender Christians living today, Hartke helps readers visualize a more inclusive Christianity, equipping them with the confidence and tools to change both the church and the world.

How science is helping us understand gender

A copy of this magazine is now available in the Good Shepherd Libraries at the Madison & Verona campus

An excerpt from National Geographic's Gender Revolution Issue, January 2017

Article by Robin Marantz Henig

Freed from the binary of boy and girl, gender identity is a shifting landscape. Can science help us navigate?

Click to read this National Geographic Article

Clunky Questions

Often people with good intentions feel they aren’t able to ask questions about what it means to be LGBTQ because they are afraid of offending someone or they don’t have the right words with which to ask. Clunky Questions is for you! Watch a series of short videos to have your questions answered.

Watch Clunky Questions Videos

Christian Parents Rethink LGBT Inclusion

Published by Christians Talk

UnClobber: Aligning the Head and the Heart

Published by Colby Martin https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k2akYvozcq0