Following a recent decision tightening the United Methodist Church’s ban on same-sex marriage and the ordination of LGBTQIA clergy at a global conference in February, the people of Algoma and West Kewaunee United Methodist Churches unanimously voted to join the Reconciling Ministries Network (RMN).

According to its website, RMN is a movement within the UMC which “works for full equality in membership, ordination, and marriage for God’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender children.”

“Being Reconciling tells the LGBTQIA community we are a safe and welcoming place to worship,” Pastor Jennifer Emert said. “It also says to all people who abhor discrimination in any form, that in these two churches we practice Jesus’ radically inclusive, unconditional love.”

Part of the process to be considered a Reconciling congregation requires that a church adopt a Welcoming Statement which clearly states it’s position on inclusivity. Emert’s congregations’ Welcoming Statement reads:

“Algoma and West Kewaunee United Methodist Churches serve God’s creation by celebrating and modeling the love of Jesus by welcoming, embracing, and honoring people of all cultures, genders, races, classes, sexualities, and abilities.”

“Our people view this as a civil rights issue, a justice issue,” she said. “Are we a ‘gay church’? No, not anymore than we are a ‘white male’ church because some men worship here, or a ‘Belgian Church’ because we have a handful of people with that ancestry. Jesus gave us one commandment: to love one another. We strive to do just that.”

Algoma and West Kewaunee become the first United Methodist congregations in Northeastern Wisconsin to signal they openly welcome members of the LGBTQIA community. Emert has previously stated that her congregations do not accept the recent decision to strengthen what she considers to be the denomination’s discriminatory stance against a single group of people.