Who is Welcome?

In my experience, not all churches are very welcoming. Am I welcome in the ELCA?

Welcome is what our church strives for. We recognize that there are groups and communities of people who have been hurt by experiences with church. They have been made to feel that they cannot be their God-given selves in church settings. The ELCA is continually working toward reconciliation and to share our fundamental belief that God’s love and grace are limitless and for everyone.

Sin is a complicated thing to talk about because it comes in many forms, through our actions and inactions. Sins can be individual as well as communal. In short, we believe sin is separation from God. It describes the harm, injustice, systemic oppression and evil that is done to people and the earth. All people, including Christians, fall short. It’s difficult to admit our sins, but we trust that God’s grace has the power to continually forgive us, heal us and free us to love others. This conveys God’s unconditional love for us.

Nothing. There is no limit to God’s grace and forgiveness. Through Jesus Christ, God promises to forgive our sin. Though humans are capable of causing pain and suffering, with God there is always the possibility of healing and transformation. God’s love is unfathomable. When we confess our sins, we are assured of God’s forgiveness, and we respond to that grace by serving and loving our neighbor. Still, ultimately, the gift of grace is that — a gift from God’s infinite love. Our faith is how we receive and respond to this good news.

God’s love for everyone compels us to stand against anything that harms or divides us from each other, such as injustice, prejudice and systemic oppression. We confess that churches, including the ELCA, have been complicit in this discrimination and division. We are, however, committed to doing the hard work of examining ourselves and engaging in honest dialogue with those who challenge exclusion and domination. Our desire is to do our part in God’s great work of bringing reconciliation, restoration and wholeness to the world. Confronting injustice is ongoing work done locally and throughout the world.

Learn more about the justice work of the ELCA.