Love One Another because All Are Welcome

Lutheran Services Carolinas has for years embraced the joy of Christ, and the spirit of welcome, acceptance of all, positivity, and optimism. It is a natural outgrowth of our mission to walk with all and of our vision of abundant life. That philosophy at times is at odds with much of the polarization and even hate in today’s public discourse. 

The LSC Way has been successful. Especially in the last few years, I have noted that any day I/we don’t step on a “polarization landmine” is a good day. In the last five years, LSC has not had one major issue, and only about a half-dozen single, unrelated questions or comments, about controversial issues. I’m not encouraging more dissent by writing this, but LSC is always willing to listen.   

We haven’t been loud, obnoxious, or controversial, but we have relatively quietly gone about fulfilling our Vision, Mission, and Values. In many of these issues we rely on our value of Justice, to be in a right relationship with God and to be in a right relationship with each other. 

LSC is humbly and unapologetically Lutheran, thus, a Christian-sponsored nonprofit. We have kept Lutheran in our name and Christ in our mission statement. While we are not legally part of the Lutheran Church, they are the parents who birthed and raised us, and we remain closely affiliated with the church.   

Organization is different from individual. We strive to live out the Lutheran identity of LSC corporately, not by whatever identity each of us has individually. We don’t even all agree on what our Lutheran identity is. Theological scholars, pastors, and various church bodies can’t even agree on many issues, so you can see how hard this is. But we try and we do the best we can. 

We do not discriminate. That would be immoral. That would also be illegal, as we are bound by state and/or federal law to not discriminate based on race, color, creed, gender, sexual orientation.   

What happens when there is disagreement? LSC generally receives at least one question or raised eyebrow when we hold a Diversity/Equity/Inclusion event or set up a booth at something like a Pride Day celebration, or participate in a non-ELCA Lutheran event.  My answer is always the same.  Christ said to “love one another.” One of our tag lines is “All Are Welcome.” As an organization, we will love everyone, welcome everyone, and let God sort out the rest.   

We won’t make everyone happy. But lifting up one group does not push down another group.  I even work with and serve people who, if they weren’t so polite, would tell me I’m going to hell.  I’m a Lutheran, so I wasn’t even baptized properly, according to their beliefs. Or a non-Christian might believe I am not going to heaven. After I thought all that through, I made peace with it.  Everyone has a right to believe anything they want to believe.   

Even the majority feels marginalized sometimes, us white males for example who have been the dominant power in our society. Articles online and a small group I am a part of have been discussing another majority group that sometimes feels marginalized: conservative Christians. I’m here to tell you again that All Are Welcome. Each group has the same right to believe as they do, like any other group. As the historically dominant culture, Christians, by and large conservative, have had the control, the power, so they haven’t needed a special day, week, or month. LSC grew up in that culture. Now, striving to walk the tightrope between some of the “polarization landmines” that exist not only in society but also in the Church, we continue as best we can to live out our faith in Jesus Christ.   

Here are some ways we live our faith as an organization. We put our residents/clients and all the people we serve first. We pray at the start of meetings. We employ chaplains. We celebrate the religious holidays of our Lutheran church. We participate in Faith Night at the Kannapolis Cannon Ballers and have LSC Day at the Columbia Fireflies. We strive to live our Lutheran/Christian identity as an organization, again including having Lutheran in our name and Christ in our mission statement.  And we make room at the table for others and their beliefs. 

LSC does not force its culture on others. We provide the framework where everyone can hold and honor their personal beliefs. Then together we can…Love One Another because All Are Welcome.