From Rev. Sara Dingman of the Synod of Lincoln Trails

Dear Members and Friends of the Synod of Lincoln Trails,

Have you been to the Synod office before?

If not, let me describe it for you: We’re in Indianapolis, a few miles north of downtown, in a 3-story building called the Indiana Interchurch Center (or IIC). The IIC was created in 1967 to be “a living demonstration to the world that it is possible . . . to have unity without sacrificing freedom.” I was not surprised to learn that the Presbyterians helped to conceive of and create this place!

iic outsideNow the name “IIC” may be a little misleading in that of the two dozen organizations that take up space, only some are Christian. Others are Jewish, agnostic, secular. You get the idea. All are committed to transforming the world in the best way they know how! Unity and freedom.

Everyday I come to work in a building that welcomes all.
ALL are welcome here.
– – –
This morning as I walked through the doors on my way to the office, however, I imagined how it would feel to be unwelcome, here or elsewhere. Unwelcome because of my gender- identity- race- beliefs-

Suddenly Indiana, my new home, did not feel so safe. And “unwelcome” seemed more of a euphemism for something we don’t like to name.

Discrimination is wrong. Discrimination under the guise of religious freedom is so very, very wrong. Lord have mercy on us, Presbyterians, if we do not use our privilege and power to right the wrongs in our communities, and in ourselves.

We believe that the church must therefore stand by people in any form of suffering and need, which implies, among other things, that the church must witness against and strive against any form of injustice, so that justice may roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.

We believe that the church as the possession of God must stand where the Lord stands, namely against injustice and with the wronged; that in following Christ the church must witness against all the powerful and privileged who selfishly seek their own interests and thus control and harm.

— Confession of Belhar

In the Synod of Lincoln Trails we are called to be agents of justice and reconciliation.

  • Let our own lives and witnesses be welcome signs in Indiana and elsewhere.
  • Let us turn to our creeds and confessions for direction: The Barmen Declaration, The Confession of 1967, A Brief Statement of Faith. Belhar. All have much to offer us Presbyterians in both content and context.
  • And for those of us who call Indiana our home, let us be grateful for the co-witness of Presbyterians throughout Illinois and elsewhere (who have been such good sisters and brothers to us this past week).

Our individual and collective faithful responses to RFRA will be a marathon, not a sprint. They will be multi-faceted, not singular. For example:

  • This wise predecessor has called on folks to raise up new candidates for legislature (even as we raised up her name!).
  • This good colleague (who took the photo at the top) has stood with other people of faith in downtown Indy, sharing God’s inclusive love.
  • This facebook friend has, from Chicago, passionately kept many updated and informed.
  • This Stated Clerk has been in correspondence with others in order to fully and fairly represent the position of the Synod to Indiana lawmakers.

Your courageous voice from the pulpit, pews, facebook pages, living rooms, basketball bleachers, grocery store aisles… matter. What crucial conversations are you engaged in? What role are you playing as an agent of justice and reconciliation? How can the Synod help you?

sara dingmanYou are the hands and feet of Christ.
This Holy Week we remember that our Savior’s hands and feet were bound and pierced – so that all might be free.

You are the voice of Christ.
This Holy Week we remember that Jesus said “Forgive them, for they know not what they do” – and we too must be agents of justice and reconciliation.

There is a better way forward than RFRA. And now we Presbyterians are called to be “a living demonstration to the world that it is possible . . . to have unity without sacrificing freedom.”

I invite you to continue the dialogue on the Synod’s facebook page.

Your Sister in Christ,

Sara

the Rev. Sara Dingman,
Transitional Synod Executive

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