Jim was a member of Reformation when he and Julia met in 1979. Julia became a member following their marriage performed by then Pastor Jim Nichols in 1982. That would make us among some of the most senior members of Reformation meaning we have been through the many highs and lows of RLC for nearly 40 years. The most important reason we love Reformation is the message of love and reconciliation, the gospel of salvation by grace and the commitment to justice and equality that is the underlying mission of our ministry. From the beginning we were loved and accepted as a new blended family by older members of the congregation, many who now rest among the saints. As we moved into the 21st Century, Reformation was declining in membership and struggling to be relevant in our community. We were very conscious of the fact that historically we had not been welcoming to all of our neighbors because of their race or sexual orientation.
These were our neighbors; it was important to us that they find a welcoming home at Reformation so as a church, we began a dialogue on human sexuality, acceptance and inclusiveness. Our proudest moment at Reformation was the almost unanimous vote to become a Reconciling congregation and the subsequent door-to-door canvasing of the neighborhood to spread that word. The resulting reputation of Reformation as a welcoming congregation continues to reward us through new friendships, new ministries, and new ways of outreach in service to our community. We love the rich heritage and traditional liturgy of Reformation and we love contributing to the growth of that heritage in new and inclusive ways.
Larry and I moved to Columbia March 1, 1970. I had always been active in any church where I was a member and we didn’t even visit another church. The pastor at RLC then had been my pastor when I was in junior high and high school. At that time RLC was a very “cold” congregation. If you weren’t a local then you weren’t welcome by the majority of the members! But those who know me know I don't sit back and wait to get involved, so I wiggled my way in and became very involved. As the years passed the membership got smaller because of “white flight” and deaths of older members. There was a time when the sanctuary would be filled to become a time when had only 40-50 at worship. So sad. There was a time we were a broken congregation.
Our Church leadership decided we would do Transformational Ministry - Change what we had been doing because it wasn’t working. After much studying and involving all the membership, we voted to become a Reconciling in Christ congregation. For the next few months, we had members who knocked on the doors of Earlewood. Elmwood and Cottontown. The first Sunday in January we began our new ministry. Personally it was and continues to be a wonderful experience. My life has been so enriched with the friends i have made in the past 10-12 years. Reformation has blazed the trails for other churches in South Carolina to “Lift High The Cross” of Jesus Christ so that all God’s Children are welcome in this place!!!!
I grew up in a small rural town in South Carolina, Baptist from birth. Two things do not mix in the South: religion and gay. Thus, I did not attend church for over 20 years due to my sexual orientation. I did not feel welcome and accepted.
In 2010, a straight co-worker shared that Reformation is a place where the doors are open to everyone. She kept saying, “All are welcome!” I’m still in the South, so I pinched myself, sarcastically thinking, “Sure, everyone is welcome.”
Well, with my first step into the narthex, I was met by people who truly welcomed and accepted me into their church. They were different ages, races, genders and sexual orientations. But, I noticed how it really didn’t matter to the members of Reformation. Everyone is welcome! How could this be? Well, Reformation went through a “reformation” and became a Reconciling in Christ congregation in the Lutheran community. Reconciling in Christ is publicly welcoming and accepting of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. There are just over 800 Reconciling in Christ congregations, synods, colleges, seminaries and other Lutheran organizations in the nation. Reformation’s transformation into Reconciling in Christ (RIC) is the result of very open-minded, accepting straight Christians, who were led by the Holy Spirit to begin an awesome journey of welcoming and accepting all people to worship at and be a part of the ministry at Reformation.
To me, this is the most important thing that sets Reformation apart from other churches. The members of Reformation are sharing a faith journey toward love and acceptance for all people everywhere!
Join Us in a Journey of Faith
Come for worship this Sunday and experience a church filled with love and acceptance for all God's children - just the way you are.
Reformation Lutheran Church
1118 Union Street, Columbia, South Carolina 29201, United States