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Light of the World Lutheran Church puts its welcome in writing

Farmington's Light of the World Lutheran Church has made open arms a part of its identity over the past six years. They confirm it out loud every Sunday during services.

Now, they have it in writing.

The congregation recently approved a formal welcoming statement that makes clear the church's doors are open to anyone regardless of race, age, sexual orientation, criminal record or history with the church.

The statement, part of an Evangelical Lutheran Church of America process called Reconciling in Christ, is meant to let people who have felt excluded from other churches know they have a place they can go.

"Being a welcoming congregation is one of our founding principles," said Don Steger, president of the church's congregational council. "The idea of the Reconciling in Christ statement program from the ELCA basically puts that into a formal statement.

"It really validates in a formal manner what we've known for a number of years."

Recognition in the Reconciling in Christ program allows Light of the World to be listed on a website with other churches that have taken similar stances. There are several ELCA churches in Minnesota that have taken that step, but Light of the World is the only one between Edina and Northfield to adopt a formal welcoming statement.

The timing of the statement, which Steger said church members approved "overwhelmingly" but not unanimously, is both fortuitous and a bit of a coincidence. With same-sex marriage officially legal in Minnesota as of Aug. 1, the church feels now is an important time to promote a message that all are welcome. But marriage is not a focus for the church, which currently meets at Meadowview Elementary School and has no building of its own in which to perform ceremonies.

"We weren't focusing necessarily on Aug. 1," Stenger said. "It worked out nicely that way."

Nathan Hansen

Nathan Hansen has been a reporter and editor with the Farmington Independent and the Rosemount Town Pages since 1997. He is very tall.

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