BETHLEHEM OPENS ITS DOORS EVEN WIDER
Commits to the Inclusion of People of All Sexual Orientations and Gender Identities
Bethlehem Lutheran Church has joined the “Reconciling in Christ” program, which publicly affirms the church’s commitment to welcoming people of all gender identities and sexual orientations. By a unanimous vote of the church council, Bethlehem is now one of just two churches in Brooklyn and the only one in Bay Ridge, to be designated by the program, which is sponsored by Lutherans Concerned / North America.
“We always thought of ourselves as a welcoming community at Bethlehem,” stated Rev. Paul Knudsen, pastor of Bethlehem Lutheran Church. “But this makes it crystal clear that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people of southwest Brooklyn have a welcoming place to worship. People of all backgrounds seek support, spiritual guidance, and a place to commemorate life’s events, and Bethlehem is pleased to open our doors to all.”
Emily Eastwood, Executive Director of Lutherans Concerned / North America stated, “We are deeply grateful for this grace filled gesture by Bethlehem Lutheran Church. Their witness and leadership is a beacon of hope for people of all sexual orientations and gender identities and the next step on the path to reconciliation and healing within the church and society.”
The Reconciling in Christ recognition means that the congregation is listed on a roster of churches and other organizations in the United States and Canada that publicly welcome members of all sexual orientations and gender identities. Bethlehem’s public statement on their website (bethlehembayridge.org) states in part “People of all sexual orientations and gender identities are welcome within the membership of this congregation and are encouraged to share in the sacramental and general life of this Christian family.”
About Lutherans Concerned: Lutherans Concerned / North America is a Christian ministry affirming God’s love for people of all sexual orientations and gender identities. Their Reconciling in Christ program currently has more than 450 member congregations. Lutherans Concerned is headquartered in Saint Paul, Minnesota. www.lcna.org
About Bethlehem: Bethlehem Lutheran Church, which was founded in 1905, is located on the corner of 4th & Ovington Avenues in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn NY and is a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The church is home to the Lutheran Elementary School, the Bay Ridge Center, and related senior lunch program, meals-on-wheels, an emergency food pantry, a domestic violence counseling program, Sunday School, youth groups and other community benefits. Its Sunday services are held at 10:30 a.m. www.bethlehembayridge.org