The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


'We want it to be known'

When members of Custer [S.D.] Lutheran Fellowship are asked who's welcome in their church community, they'll hand you an interesting list.

Placed in every new-member packet, the list includes people of all ethnic, sexual and marital backgrounds. It welcomes children who cry during worship services and "those who suffer from addiction to drugs and alcohol (whether recovering or not) and their families." It includes people who are "promiscuous, have had an abortion, or have fathered children and taken no responsibility for them," as well as "gossips, cheats, liars and their families."

The statement concludes: "We want it to be of public record that since we are a sinful people, we will not always be quick to welcome as we should. ... May God give us the grace to welcome and forgive one another as Christ has welcomed and forgiven us."

Written by Charles Hazlett, a former pastor of Custer, the welcome statement "symbolizes what the church should be," member Linda Zachow says. "These are the people who need to feel welcome when they go through trying times."

Zachow felt that welcome during her divorce. When she needed it, she says, "the community at Custer Lutheran Fellowship was there for me. I always felt welcome. Here were people in the church, not just the pastor, who included me. I was invited to Christmas and Thanksgiving dinners. When I had to have surgery, the church secretary took me and stayed until after it was over.

"I was also able to tell a friend of mine who is a lesbian, 'If you want to come to church with me, you're welcome.' It felt good to me to know it was true."


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March issue

MARCH issue:

All are welcome