LGBTQ+ Inclusion

Synod Reconciling in Christ (RIC) Task Force

2023 Pride Month Message from Bishop Joy

Dear Partners in Ministry,

As many of you likely already know, June is Pride month. It is a month during which we intentionally lift up our LGBTQIA+ siblings around the world. Pride is celebrated in many ways – with parades, festivals, and more. Ultimately, however, Pride is about welcome and inclusion.

Our synod, the South-Central Synod of Wisconsin, has been a Reconciling in Christ synod since 2017. This means that we have made a commitment to be fully inclusive. It means we strive to be intentional about welcoming “people of every race, background, age, political affiliation, economic and social status, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and mental and physical ability, while striving to enable all people to participate fully in the life and work of the church and its expressions” (from the SCSW RIC commitment statement).

At our recent Synod Assembly, the assembly voted unanimously to renew our RIC commitment. This could not have happened at a more critical time. As many of you know, legislation restricting the rights of LGBTQIA+ citizens has been introduced around the country. Some of these bills have even been passed into law. Now more than ever we as God’s people must renew our resolve to stand with and advocate alongside our LGBTQIA+ siblings. My prayer is this work of re-committing ourselves to diversity and inclusion will send a message of solidarity, love, and hope to counter the voices that so loudly proclaim the opposite.

I give thanks to God for this work we are undertaking together. I am grateful to labor alongside our congregations and leaders as we strive to live up to the commitment to be and become truly inclusive.

God bless you all as you carry out this difficult, life-giving work.

In Christ,

Bishop Joy Mortensen-Wiebe

Following Jesus, who commanded his followers, ‘Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another,’ and believing that all persons are created in the image of God, the South-Central Synod of Wisconsin, ELCA, strives to be fully inclusive for all. This synod welcomes people of every race, background, age, political affiliation, economic and social status, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and mental and physical ability, while striving to enable all people to participate fully in the life and work of the church and its expressions.

22 of our congregations in south-central Wisconsin have also taken steps to be intentionally welcoming to the LGBTQIA+ community. These congregations are identified as Reconciling in Christ congregations. By having a statement affirming this welcome that specifically names either, “LGBTQIA+ people” or “people of all sexual orientations, gender identities and gender expressions” in their statement, these faith communities are accepted into the Reconciling in Christ partnership with ReconcilingWorks. You may click on a congregation below to learn more:

Madison Area




New “FAITH!” Program


What: We are beginning a synod-wide Youth LGBTQ and Ally faith space. Right now this is only in the planning stage, but we will share our own dreams below. All we are asking is that as many who can will spread the word and begin to gather to plan.

Why: Queer people, and particularly Queer youth need safe spaces and especially safe faith spaces where they can join in community. Too often we who are Queer can feel alone in our world, particularly in faith spaces.

Who: We are asking for Queer youth leaders, and allies, to gather and begin our big-dream of what safe and joyful community worship specifically for Queer and Ally youth might look like and what it could become. If pastors, deacons, and lay-leaders can spread this message, we can make dreams into realities. 

How: If this sounds like something you are being called to OR you are a young person who identifies as any part of the expansive LGBTQIA+++ community pleas reach out to Marie Leafblad in our synod office to get connected.

A Big Dream: We can only speak of our vision as it is now, but we expect it to change as youth leaders gather to dream big. But for now we see a space where LGBTQ youth and allies gather either via Zoom or  in a roving church space that meets across the synod. We imagine a space where:

  • We gather in music and poetry or absurdly dramatic readings! 
  • We hear the Word as we share scripture, poetry, and song and take time to discuss our own reflections on what we hear and read.
  • We share the meal, either in the form of soup or bread made together or as a spiritual meal filling us with the inclusive love in community
  • And we send out to do the true radical work taught to us by Jesus in the language of action to speak clearly for the uplift of the most marginalized. I see youth leading with inclusive, welcoming love – In my big dream, this last part becomes the outsized heart of our work together, in the deeply Christian call to social justice.

Who are we: 

  • Marie Leafblad is the Associate to the Bishop for Leadership Support, The younger generation is incredibly important to her and she desires to create safe and welcoming spaces for all. Marie was a youth pastor for a long time prior to her position at the Synod office.
  • Vica Steel is a seminary student at Wartburg Seminary where she is studying to be a minister of Word and Service (Deacon). Formerly she taught in the Madison school district. She currently preaches and does outreach work at St. John’s Lutheran church in Madison. She is active on social media. You can find her on TikTok where she gives prayers and reflections each day: @vicaSteel.


  • The Trevor Project was Founded in 1998 by the creators of the Academy Award®-winning short film TREVOR, and is the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning (LGBTQ) young people under 25. Learn more HERE.
  • GLAAD provides an amazing list of online resources on their website HERE. GLAAD works through entertainment, news, and digital media to share stories from the LGBTQ community that accelerate acceptance.
  • Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries organizes queer seminarians and rostered ministers, confronts barriers and systemic oppression, and activates queer ideas and movements within the Lutheran Church. Learn more HERE.
  • The new Lavender Book App is a crowd-sourced app created by the National Black Justice Coalition and Out In Tech, that aims to record safe spaces for LGBTQ+ people of color. The app allows users to narrow down places through various filters — such as whether American Sign Language is spoken, gender-neutral restrooms are available or if there’s a wheelchair ramp on site. Learn more HERE.

RIC Program

The Reconciling in Christ (RIC) Program is for congregations, synods, colleges, seminaries, and other Lutheran organizations. Lutheran communities that publicly welcome lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people are accepted onto the Reconciling in Christ Roster. Most groups start the process of consideration by engaging in a study program or series of educational meetings. Hearing the experiences of LGBT people and their families often creates greater understanding and insights. Learn more about the RIC program through ReconcilingWorks.