Dear Friend of ReconcilingWorks,
We are just one week back from the ELCA Youth Gathering in Houston, TX and my heart and mind are still processing the impact you made possible through your financial gifts, the “God Adores You” card you filled out, and all your prayers.
The 30 x 45 foot ReconcilingWorks booth at the Gathering was some of the most sacred ground I have stood on in a while. The space was decorated with a dozen PRIDE flags for different identities in the LGBTQIA+ community, a photo booth area with a teen Jesus carboard cutout, free resources, temporary tattoos, and of course the “God Adores You” cards. Over the three days in the interactive learning center we had kiddos come up and start crying as they saw their PRIDE flag hanging at a church event. One young person walked their mom over to the Bisexual flag and came out to her and then they stood there crying and hugging each other filled with love. There were young people teaching their peers about all the different meanings of the flags surrounding the booth. We had adults come up to us with relief, gratitude, and tears in their eye for affirming their LGBTQIA+ youth group members.
"As I think back to my time in Houston, the first image that comes to mind is a kiddo walking into our booth, face gleaming, as they run straight towards me; without hesitation, they run into my arms embracing me with the most life giving hug as tears stream down their face. Before they do anything else they look at me and exclaim how thankful they are that ReconcilingWorks is there. This youth shared that they had no idea that there was such an organization that loved them and supported them in their identity as an LGBTQ+ Christian, and it wasn't until walking into our booth that they felt like they were at home and could be their full self as a beloved child of God! This happened time and time again as youth after youth walked into our booth, found their flag, and used our space as a means of educating themselves, their friends, and sharing who they were to others. I am grateful to have shared that space as Holy moments like that happened for LGBTQ+ youth and allies from across the country. Beautiful things happened in Houston, and words cannot even begin to express the experience I had at our ReconcilingWorks booth." – Ashlei Buhrow, Reconciling in Christ Program Assistant
While my mind is still struggling to find words to describe the profound way the Holy Spirit used the space to stir up a sense of wholeness for so many, my checks have finally stopped hurting after smiling from ear to ear for three days straight.
THANK YOU for ALL you do to make a difference in the life of the church. After this Youth Gathering I am reminded just how desperate people are to be seen, named, and celebrated in the Lutheran Church for the true gifts we as LGBTQIA+ people bring.