Reconciling In Christ

Reconciling In Christ (RIC) is ReconcilingWorks flagship program for congregations, colleges, seminaries, and other organizations and institutions who publicly welcome people of all sexual orientations and gender identities and expressions. The Reconciling In Christ track will explore ways individuals can help expand and deepen the RIC program in their community and throughout North America.

Extending LGBT Welcome in Multiracial Settings

In ReconcilingWorks’ efforts to create safe space for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) people and families to worship and thrive in community, ReconcilingWorks must also focus on the root issues of racial injustice, inequality, and exclusion so that racism may be dismantled in our society and in our hearts. The Extending Welcome track will look at how ReconcilingWorks and the Lutheran Church can create caring communities of faith and learn how to be allies for, and minister with, all people of color in increasingly racially, ethnically, and culturally diverse settings.


In the ever changing landscape, and as momentum is building in support of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) people and families, take a close look at definitions and terminology for sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. The LGBTQ track will also include new resources on how congregations can be prepared and encouraged to call LGBTQ clergy.

Public Engagement

ReconcilingWorks works for systemic change in public policy, practice, and culture within the Lutheran Church and society in advocacy for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) people and families. ReconcilingWorks is committed to the ecclesial, social, and legal changes necessary to make “welcome” a lived experience in the church and the world. The Public Engagement track will explore how Lutherans can make their voices of faith heard in the church and the public square.

Workshop Session 1: Friday, July 31, 1:00 – 2:00 PM

Two-Spirit 101

Presenter: Isaiah Brokenleg
Track: Extending LGBT Welcome in Multiracial Settings

This workshop will look at the roles of gender and sexuality through an American Indian lens. We will explore the history of the two-spirit label and roles two-spirits played traditionally in American Indian communities. We will learn about the history of Christianity in Indian Country and how it affected traditional concepts of sexuality and gender roles. We will discuss the contemporary two-spirit culture and the “coming in” process.

Isaiah Brokenleg is an enrolled member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe (Sicangu Nation) and grew up in South Dakota but now calls the Northwoods of Wisconsin home. He believes we are all related (“Mitakuye Oyasin”) and, as such, we are all called to be “good relatives” to one another. As a winktè (Lakota two-spirit), Isaiah believes that he is called to be a healer and move communities in the direction of positive change. Isaiah has a B.A. from the University of Minnesota, Morris with majors in multicultural studies as well as applied social justice/human rights. He has a Masters of Public Health degree from the University of Minnesota School of Public Health. Isaiah is a Program Director and Epidemiologist for the Great Lakes Inter-Tribal Council. Isaiah is a postulant and seminarian in the Episcopal Church. Isaiah is passionate about social justice, and working to end the structural oppression/violence that hurts us all.

Life After RIC

Presenters: Kenny Callahan and René García
Track: RIC

Now that your congregation has “come out of the closet” in its public welcome to people of all sexual orientations and gender identities, there may be some questions about what to do next.  Join us as we explore the possibilities available for congregations to not only authentically live into the spirit of Reconciling in Christ, but to learn how this ministry can be extended beyond the church walls. We will assist you in adding ideas and experiences to your welcoming toolbox with sass, laughter, and perhaps even some tears along the way.

Kenny Callaghan, (He/him) a native of Southern California, is committed to living out his faith engaging the world in the justice Jesus preached. He is active within the Los Angeles Lutherans Concerned Chapter, was a speaker at Prop 8/Marriage Equality rallies, and continues to speak regarding equality, full inclusion, and justice for all people. Kenny serves on the staff of Christ Lutheran Church in Long Beach and Living Faith Lutheran Church in Santa Clarita, California, as Director of Music and Worship. He enjoys composing music for his church choir and soloists, sings with the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles, and enjoys discovering new bakeries, coffee houses, and restaurants sampling their dining delicacies.

René García has served as the Region 4 Coordinator since 2010, presenting RIC Certificates to five congregations and co-leading three Building an Inclusive Church trainings. He is also a national faciliator for A la Familia, a program of the Human Rights Campaign, which facilitates conversations of faith, family, and sexuality.He travels annually to El Salvador to accompany a Lutheran congregation that is beginning initial conversations among the leadership regarding LGBT issues. René pays the bills by teaching Spanish at Cinco Ranch High School in Katy and is a member of Grace Lutheran Church in Houston, the first RIC setting in the Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast Synod


Being Extraordinary in Ordinary Times

Presenters: Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries Program Director, Rev. Jen Rude; and Executive Director, Amalia Vagts
Track: LGBT

Join us for a presentation about what Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries has been doing since the policy barring gay and lesbian people from serving ended in 2009. Learn about the roots of this twenty-five year old ministry and hear the stories of LGBTQ people called to serve in this church—and of the extraordinary congregations that have called them.

Rev. Jen Rude serves as the program director of Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries. She was ordained extraordinarily in 2007 and was received onto the ELCA roster in 2011. Previously, Jen served as an associate pastor of a congregation and as an outreach minister working with homeless and LGBTQ young people. Jen lives with her partner, Deb, in Chicago and they attend Grace Lutheran Church in Evanston, Illinois. She is obsessed with the Tiny House movement, loves to cook (and eat), and can periodically be seen doing handstands.

Amalia Vagts is Executive Director of Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries and has served the organization since 2006. Amalia is a lifelong Lutheran, with Midwest roots and branches on the East and West coasts. A publicly-identified bisexual person, Amalia is an advocate for LGBTQ justice throughout the Lutheran church and in her home state of Iowa. She lives in Decorah, Iowa with her partner, David Lester, his teenagers, and four (laying) hens. She is a member of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Decorah.

Marriage Equality, Religious Freedom

Presenter: The Rev. William E. Flippin, Jr.
Track: Public Engagement

Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in Obergell v. Hodges that same-sex couples have the fundamental right to marry; states cannot say that marriage is reserved for heterosexual couples. The basis of this decision is the recognized personhood and equality of all people. The purpose of this workshop is to explore the historical and social impact of the American gay rights movement through the streams of denied marriage equality to chattel slaves and through legislation in benchmark decisions like Loving v. Virginia and the pivotal role of the media post-1960 in this progression. There will be special attention to my role in the so-called religious freedom laws (“religious refusals”) in Georgia via House Bill 29. How does the Supreme Court decision on marriage equality shape future legislation in Georgia and how is our Lutheran identity important in our public witness?

The Rev. William E. Flippin, Jr. is pastor of Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Atlanta, Georgia, an intentionally multicultural and inclusive congregation. He is a member of the ELCA Church Council and is Third Vice President for the Georgia NAACP. Rev. Flippin is a graduate of Morehouse College and received a Masters in Divinity from the Interdenominational Theological Center at Morehouse School of Religion, where he concentrated in Church History/Reformation Studies. He received Masters of Theology degrees from Emory University/Candler School of Theology and the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. Currently, he is completing his Doctor of Ministry in Transformational Leadership from Ashland Theological Seminary. He has been featured on the History Channel which aired April, 2008, on the Reformation. He has been a contributor to the African American Lectionary as a Cultural Commentator on the subject of baptism. He is also a blogger for religion and Black Voices for the Huffington Post.

Workshop Session 2: Friday, July 31, 2:15 – 3:15 AM

A La Familia

Presenter: René Garcia
Track: Extending LGBT Welcome in Multiracial Settings

A La Familia is a bilingual project that promotes inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people within Latino/a communities. It was created by Latino/a communities for Latino/a communities to transform conversations among familia about sexual orientation, gender identity and the Bible, to strengthen coalitions within Latino/a communities, and to embolden a new generation of Latino/a leaders of faith. During our time together we will view the short documentary Before God: We Are All Family, a film that explores the experiences of LGBT people of deep faith, who have been told there is no place for them in their church of origin; and the experiences of their parents and siblings, who have been cruelly asked to choose between their family and their religion. Following the documentary there will be a time for questions, reflections, and conversation. This workshop will be in both English and Spanish.

René García is a nationally trained A La Familia facilitator and a regional coordinator for ReconcilingWorks. He has recently been named a co-coordinator of the newly formed Network of Latino Lutherans for Diversity, an initiative by the ELCA Latino Ministries, to begin work within Latino Lutheran congregations to welcome all sexual orientations and gender identities. René has also spent the last three years accompanying a Lutheran congregation in El Salvador as it is beginning conversation among its leadership about LGBT welcoming. René holds a BA in Communication Arts - Media Studies and Spanish from Texas Lutheran University. To pay the bills, he teaches Spanish at Cinco Ranch High School in Katy, Texas, a western suburb of Houston. He is a member of Grace Lutheran Church of Houston, the first RIC congregation in the Texas–Louisiana Gulf Coast Synod (ELCA).

Bisexual and Transgender Communities: Standing on Common Ground

Presenters: JamieAnn Meyers and Marge Charmoli
Track: LGBT

Every day, bisexual and transgender individuals challenge binary essentialist definitions of sexuality and gender identity, with the result that their existence is often misunderstood and often denied, making them invisible. This is especially true in the life of the Church. The goals of this session are to: (1) identify and explore the intersections between bisexual and transgender communities and the similar challenges faced by bi and trans individuals and (2) develop strategies to create welcome and inclusion of bisexual and transgender people of faith in the life of the Church.

JamieAnn Meyers, Ph.D. (she/her, sometimes they/them) is a bisexual queer radical-femme transsexual woman. She advocates for the LGBTQIA+ community as transgender representative and board member of ReconcilingWorks and as a lead trainer with the Minnesota GLBTA Campus Alliance. She takes a social justice and intersectional anti-oppression approach to her activism and advocacy. Her work in faith and secular communities focuses on advocacy for transgender, gender non-conforming, and bisexual persons, and on trainings for allies across the spectrum of LGBTQIA+ communities.

Dr. Marge Charmoli, Ph.D. (she/her/hers ) is bisexual representative and board member of ReconcilingWorks. Dr. Charmoli is a psychologist in private practice in St. Paul, Minnesota and has taught at Macalester College and the University of Minnesota. She has extensive public speaking experience to lay and professional audiences, local, national, and international, on sexuality, sexual orientation, spirituality, mental health, addiction recovery, trauma, school violence, disaster preparedness/response, and professional development. She also uses radio and television to educate the general public about depression, stress, sexuality, disaster preparedness, and human rights.

Standing on the Shoulders of Giants

Presenter: Obie Holmen
Track: Public Engagement

How did we get to this time and place? What paths did early pilgrims follow to lead the way out of the wilderness? From the formation of Lutherans Concerned for Gay People in 1974, through decades of conflict and controversy, through recent legislative and judicial policy breakthroughs, the world has turned. In this workshop, we will celebrate the journey by remembering the stories and honoring the prophetic voices crying in the wilderness. This has not been a solitary journey; sisters and brothers from our ecumenical partners have traveled with us, and we will trace the parallel paths of the UCC, the Episcopalians, the Presbyterians, and the Methodists, and we will encounter iconic leaders from these faith traditions.

Obie Holmen is the author of "Queer Clergy: A History of Gay and Lesbian Ministry in American Protestantism," which was recently a finalist for a Minnesota Book Award. A cradle Lutheran and former trial attorney, Holmen has been a guest speaker in a variety of venues stretching from a panel moderator at the Gay Games in Cleveland to the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies in Religion at Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, California. 

ReconcilingWorks Constitutional Update

Presenters: Members of the Board of Directors
Track: RIC

Come for a conversation about proposed changes to the ReconcilingWorks constitution and bylaws. A great opportunity to learn about and discuss our organization’s important governing documents.

Workshop Session 3: Saturday, August 1, 11:00 AM – NOON

Saving Face, Saving Grace: Journeying with the Asian/Asian American LGBTQ Community

Presenter: The Rev. Tita Valeriano
Track: Extending LGBT Welcome in Multiracial Settings

People of Color LGBTQ Communities are minorities within a minority, especially in our denomination, an invisible part of our Lutheran community. Some Asians and Asian American queer people, from many cultures and histories, are part of our church world, many more are outside, and all negotiate boundaries of community constantly. What do you know about members of the Asian/Asian American LGBTQ community? How could advocates like Reconciling Works be better equipped to walk with them, both inside and outside the church? Let us gather to learn more about the stories of queer Asian/Asian Americans: their joys and challenges, their unique hurdles in belonging and living with integrity, and most of all their journeys where their faith, sexuality, and cultural community intersect. The workshop will be a time to listen, share, reflect, gain resources, and consider how to further ministry partnerships and advocacy with the Asian/Asian American LGBTQ community and beyond.

Rev. Tita Valeriano, a third generation Filipino Lutheran, is a member of Proclaim, the professional community for Lutheran pastors, rostered lay leaders, candidates, and seminarians who publicly identify as LGBTQ. She has served in various ministries of the church, as parish pastor, campus ministry pastor, mission developer and staff member of the Lutheran World Federation. She is also very involved in justice-oriented and advocacy ministries in the community especially on immigration, LGBTQ, homelessness and economic justice. She is currently developing a house church, Way of Grace, in her neighborhood and raising an adorable two year old son, Taal, with her wife, Jennifer in Alameda, CA.

Inclusive Marriage Rites

Presenter: The Rev. Bradley Schmeling
Track: RIC

What are some of the unique issues that come up as LGBT people plan a marriage service? Are there rituals that can be useful? In this workshop, we’ll take a look at some of the materials that will be in the upcoming book, “Inclusive Marriage Rites: a Sourcebook," from Westminster John Knox Press. We’ll also consider how the wedding liturgy provided in Evangelical Lutheran Worship (ELW) can be adapted to be more appropriate for an inclusive service.

The Rev. Bradley Schmeling is the senior pastor at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, St. Paul, Minnesota.


Let’s Chat Continuums!

Presenter: Leo Bancroft
Track: LGBT

Join us for a discussion of the concepts of gender identity, sexual orientation, gender expression, and sex, as well as how we perceive one another. We will talk about the gender binary system, gender norms, and the ways they impact us. How can we understand these concepts better so we can see people instead of definitions, and live out God’s radical hospitality? How does our better understanding of these terms and concepts help us to become better allies of one another, and support each other in our unique experiences and struggles?

Leo Channing Bancroft (he/him) is a Lutheran trans man. He is the Region 1 Regional Coordinator for ReconcilingWorks and has a Master of Arts in Theology from Berkeley, California. While his day job involves solving technical problems, his passion is advocacy for both the HIV and LGBTQ communities. He is active in his congregation, St. Andrew Lutheran Church, as well as the Portland Metro Chapter of ReconcilingWorks. Leo enjoys training, preaching, and sharing his story to help make the church a safe and welcoming space.

Building the Beloved Community: Reconciliation on our Streets and in our Neighborhoods

Presenter: Michael L. Cobbler 
Track: Public Engagement

As evidenced in the past year in the United States, communities have struggled with the questions, "How shall we live together?" and "How shall we regard one another?" The participants in this workshop will investigate three methods of community building: Appreciative Inquiry (SOAR), the Art of Possibility, and Creating Coalitions of Trust, and will sample portions of each method through interactive engagement. The participants will also discover and learn tactics, actions, and insights to initiate community building where they live. The scriptural foundation for this workshop will be Second Corinthians 5:16–6:2.

Michael L. Cobbler is an ancient soul who loves God, people, music, and life. He presently serves as the Principal of Beloved Community Consulting, whose mission is to guide hope-driven organizations into meaningful and sustainable futures. He is completing his service as a member of the ReconcilingWorks Board of Directors. Michael lives in South Bend, Indiana, with his spouse, The Rev. Dr. Thelma H. Megill-Cobbler.