June 5, 2018

After engaging discussion and reviewing a letter signed by 185 constituents encouraging the board to pursue becoming a Reconciling in Christ organization a motion was made and seconded that “the LWM Board begin a conversation with a rep from Reconciling Works to discuss the meaning, procedure, and possible/potential impact of becoming an RIC organization.”  Clarity was provided that this is an invitation for discussion, not a vote approving becoming RIC. The motion was carried unanimously.

Primary concerns expressed during discussion centered around the four unique positions of bound conscience present in the ELCA social statement titled “Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust”, and the diverse array of bound conscience found in the varied contexts in which congregations do ministry.

December 4, 2018

Upon invitation from the LWM Board, representatives from Reconciling Works made a presentation to board members on Reconciling In Christ, and engaged the board in discussion on how it relates to camps and the work of Living Water Ministries.

The three steps to become a Reconciling in Christ organization are:

  1. Begin the conversation
  2. Write and pass a welcome statement
  3. Proclaim and present the welcome statement for publication

No decision or action was taken by the board at this meeting. Information was received and discernment was encouraged until the next board meeting.

February 26, 2019

The LWM Board spent time debriefing the December presentation regarding Reconciling in Christ.

Conversation included:

  • An evaluation of next steps were Living Water Ministries to continue the journey towards RIC.
  • An evaluation that many of Living Water Ministries’ practices are already in-line with RIC.
  • An evaluation of the potential loss of support by, patronage of, and shared life with ELCA members and congregations with a bound conscience represented by any of the other three positions found in the ELCA’s social statement on human sexuality.

The LWM Board decided to extend an invitation to a leader from an outdoor ministry organization that has become a Reconciling in Christ organization. A request was also made for usage statistics highlighting congregations actively engaged (through patronage) in the programs provided by Living Water Ministries.

Summer 2019

The LWM Executive Director weekly updates adult leaders at camp on the work of Living Water Ministries. The board’s consideration of pursuing the possibility of becoming a Reconciling in Christ organization was shared each week with an invitation for feedback corporately or privately. Affirmations were periodically received. No concerns or disapprovals were expressed.

August 29, 2019

The LWM Board invited Anthony Briggs, Executive Director of Crossroads Camp and Retreat Center in New Jersey to share with the board about Crossroads’ journey to becoming an RIC organization. Questions asked to Mr. Briggs included:

  • What led Crossroads to become RIC?
  • Who approved the process?
  • What has been the impact?
  • Anything that would or could have been done differently?

Mr. Briggs shared that for 10 years, Crossroads was the only RIC camp in the Lutheran Outdoor Ministry Network. He communicated that there has not been an issue with the decision to become RIC and that the impact has been positive. The only negative feedback mentioned was that a gentleman who lives out-of-state annually writes a letter asking the organization to reconsider the decision to become Reconciling in Christ. The decision to become RIC was made by the organization’s board.

LWM usage statistics were also presented to the board highlighting congregations that are actively involved (through patronage) in Living Water Ministries programs. These statistics included participation in any LWM program over the last three years.

After hearing Mr. Briggs feedback and engaging in discussion, the LWM Board decided to continue this conversation by setting up a timeline and bringing this before the synod assemblies at the May 2020 assemblies for the North/West Lower Michigan and Southeast Michigan synods. Rationale for presenting a resolution seeking synodical approval from the assemblies included:

  • While Living Water Ministries is an independent organization, the life and work God is doing through LWM is deeply interwoven into the life and work God is doing in each synod. In the Reconciling in Christ process, there is a step that includes a congregational vote to approve. The representative bodies found at each synod assembly is believed to be the best equivalent to a congregational vote available to LWM in this process.
  • Taking this resolution before each synod assembly allows for public dialogue and discourse. This is not a decision the LWM Board wishes to make in a vacuum.

February 18, 2020

The board discussed a draft resolution and the process of presenting a resolution to each synod assembly. Concerns were expressed around informing people of this resolution prior to the assembly, allowing for methods of feedback and response. It was decided that a FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) document should be created including questions like:

  • What is Reconciling in Christ?
  • How many other camps, synods, seminaries and congregations have become Reconciling in Christ?
  • Why is Living Water Ministries seeking to become a Reconciling in Christ organization?
  • What about congregations, families and individuals that possess a bound conscience represented by the other three positions found in the ELCA social statement “Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust”?
  • What changes will this mean for the ministry?
  • What has been the process leading to this resolution?

After the draft resolution receives feedback from RIC, and synodical resolutions committees the board will reconvene to vote on the final draft of the resolution before it can be formally submitted to each synod for consideration at each synod assembly.

March 3, 2020

The board discussed a draft of a resolution asking each synod assembly to approve of LWM’s discernment and seeking to become a Reconciling in Christ faith community.  Also discussed were accompanying documents detailing a communications plan with which the public’s input on this resolution can be collected prior to synod assembly, a history of the LWM Board’s discernment process to-date, and an FAQ (frequently asked questions) document.

A motion was made to approve the resolution and was seconded.  The motion carried with one abstention.

March, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic began, eliminating the ability to bring this resolution before each Synod Assembly until May of 2022.

March 21, 2022 • April 7, 2022 • May 1, 2022

In advance of synod assemblies for the North/West Lower Michigan Synod, ELCA and the Southeast Michigan Synod, ELCA in May of 2022, three open forums were held on Zoom to provide a venue for discussion prior to these assemblies regarding a resolution encouraging each synod to support LWM exploring the possibility of becoming RIC. These forums served as a space to provide members of congregations in each synod the opportunity to express their questions, thoughts, concerns, support, or feedback regarding this resolution prior to assembly.

May 14, 2022

A resolution went to both synod assemblies seeking synodical support for LWM to explore the possibility of becoming a Reconciling in Christ organization.  89% of the North/West Lower Michigan Synod assembly voted yes, and 95% of the Southeast Michigan Synod assembly voted yes to LWM embarking on this journey.

January 2, 2024

A survey was sent to all donors and camp families and received 210 responses.  The survey contains one question: If Living Water Ministries were to become a Reconciling in Christ (RIC) organization today, how would you respond to the possibility?  Participants could choose one response.  The results were as follows:

187 – Yes, ready to go!

13 –   Yes, feel deeper comprehension

6 –     No, need more time to discern.

4 –     No, not supportive of the possibility

In summary, 89% of respondents indicated they are ready to go.  An additional 6% favorably responded with a desire for more comprehension.  5% of respondents indicated they are not in favor of LWM becoming RIC.

January 16, 2024, February 7, 2024, and February 22, 2024

Zoom listening circles occurred on January 16, 2024, February 7, 2024, and February 22, 2024.  A total of 11 participants attended these sessions.  10 participants were in favor of LWM becoming RIC and 1 participant was against it.  Time and space were provided for both opinions to be shared and discussed.

Overwhelmingly, attendees applauded our commitment to discerning carefully over a long period of time, listening at multiple intervals throughout the process, and for the ways we’ve engaged constituents throughout the church in Michigan through these forums, conversations at camp, and synod assemblies.  Both positions recognize that harmful or excluding acts could happen in the camp community to people who are LGBTQIA+ and that RIC status declares our commitment to dismantling those moments with an institutional, cultural, and procedural commitment.  Also lifted was the need to educate the constituency on what being RIC does and does not mean if LWM becomes an RIC organization.

March 6, 2024

The Living Water Ministries Board of Directors met on March 6, 2024, and voted to become a Reconciling in Christ organization.