Everett’s Zion Lutheran votes to welcome all

EVERETT — All are welcome. At Zion Lutheran Church, that statement is more than a friendly greeting. It’s official.

In a unanimous vote early this year, members of the congregation in Everett’s South Forest Park neighborhood decided Zion Lutheran should become a Reconciling in Christ church.

What that means is explained in a statement on the church website. It begins with a Bible verse, Romans 15:7, “Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.”

The statement continues:

“We’re unanimously committed to embrace people of all backgrounds … you, from of any ethnicity; skeptical or assured; rich or poor; liberal or conservative; you, from all gender identities or sexual orientations … you, made in God’s image are loved and celebrated for who you are.”

“It’s a reaching out with the Gospel for everyone equally,” said the Rev. Jeannine Daggett, pastor of Zion Lutheran. “It works for the inclusion of people of all sexualities and gender identities, providing a safe place. Sanctuary means safe place.”

A program of Lutherans Concerned North America, Reconciling in Christ recognizes Evangelical Lutheran Church in America congregations that welcome lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. More than 400 Lutheran churches, synods, colleges and other organizations around the country are now Reconciling in Christ communities.

In 2009, Daggett said, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America decided to allow ordination of ministers who are in same-gender long-term relationships. In January, Bishop Chris Boerger of the ELCA Northwest Washington Synod spoke at a state Senate hearing in support of the law allowing same-sex couples to marry.

The vote to become a Reconciling in Christ congregation came at Zion’s annual meeting in January, Daggett said. It followed a half-dozen meetings, starting last fall, at which the change was explained and discussed.

Chaplain Rick Pribbernow is director of Open Door Ministries, part of the Northwest Washington Synod of the ELCA. Open Door Ministries performs gay marriages, helps people who have AIDS or HIV, and provides counseling and other service.

Pribbernow, who is gay, came to Everett to talk at Zion Lutheran as members were considering the Reconciling in Christ decision.

“We met with both the church council and with the members in a number of workshops, and helped them examine the question of whether or not to be more inclusive,” Pribbernow said.

Daggett said he helped with discussion of Scripture. “One thing that’s important is taking a look at the context of the situation at the time, and the culture. That’s very important,” she said.

To interpret the whole Bible literally, Pribbernow said, would mean a ban on eating lobster or not wearing a garment made of two kinds of fabric. “And you can give up football — you can’t touch the skin of a pig,” he said.

Daggett heard some negative comments early in the process, but when the time came to vote all those who attended the meeting favored the change. It’s a small congregation, with fewer than 30 people attending weekly services. Daggett hopes those numbers will grow.

Zion Lutheran Church reaches out to the community in many ways. This spring and summer, the church is in a partnership with Everett’s South Forest Park Neighborhood Association running a community garden program. The church hosts free weekly dinners at 6 p.m. Wednesdays, and runs a small food bank for people who attend. Zion Lutheran also hosts the 449 Club’s alcohol-free dances on Saturday nights.

John Mickelson, a worship assistant at the church, has been a member for 14 years. He calls the Reconciling in Christ designation “a welcome change.”

“The church council took it to the congregation. We were thinking we might be pushing the congregation, and we didn’t want to do that. But we sat down at dinner together, and then unanimously adopted it,” he said.

“For me it was wonderful,” said Mickelson, adding that he has a family member who is gay. “It means my family can worship together.”

“It really is a justice issue,” Daggett said. “God is a welcoming God.”

Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; muhlstein@heraldnet.com.

Talk to us

More in Local News

News logo for use with stories about Mill Creek in Snohomish County, WA.
Mill Creek house fire leaves 1 dead

The fire was contained to a garage in the 15300 block of 25th Drive SE. A person was found dead inside.

Firefighters respond to a house fire Wednesday morning in the 3400 block of Broadway. (Everett Fire Department)
3 hospitalized in critical condition after Everett house fire

Firefighters rescued two people, one of whom uses a wheelchair, from the burning home in the 3400 block of Broadway.

The Walmart Store on 11400 Highway 99 on March 21, 2023 in in Everett, Washington. The retail giant will close the store on April 21, 2023. (Janice Podsada / The Herald)
Walmart announces Everett store on Highway 99 will close on April 21

The Arkansas-based retail giant said the 20-year-old Walmart location was “underperforming financially.”

Michael Tolley (Northshore School District)
Michael Tolley named new Northshore School District leader

Tolley, interim superintendent since last summer, is expected to inherit the position permanently in July.

Logo for news use, for stories regarding Washington state government — Olympia, the Legislature and state agencies. No caption necessary. 20220331
New forecast show state revenues won’t be quite as robust as expected

Democratic budget writers say they will be cautious but able to fund their priorities. Senate put out a capital budget Monday.

Everett Memorial Stadium and Funko Field on Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Drive to build new AquaSox ballpark gets $7.4M boost from state

The proposed Senate capital budget contains critical seed money for the city-led project likely to get matched by the House.

Angelica Montanari and daughter Makena, 1, outside of the Community Health Center of Snohomish County Everett-Central Clinic on Thursday, Feb. 2, 2023. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Providers at Community Health Center of Snohomish County vote to form a union

Providers expressed hope for improving patient care and making their voices heard with management.

NO CAPTION NECESSARY: Logo for the Cornfield Report by Jerry Cornfield. 20200112
A thumbs up for capital gains, kind words for the Senate budget

It’s Day 75. Here’s what’s happening in the 2023 session of the Washington Legislature

Logo for news use, for stories regarding Washington state government — Olympia, the Legislature and state agencies. No caption necessary. 20220331
Supreme Court rules state’s new capital gains tax is legal

The 7-2 ruling clears the way for collection of payments starting next month. The tax is expected to bring in $500 million a year.

Most Read