About the RIC Program
The RIC program was developed by ReconcilingWorks for Lutheran communities that publicly welcome lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer / questioning, intersex and asexual people.
Learn more about Bethel’s adoption of the RIC program by listening to a message from the pastor regarding the RIC program, meeting the RIC Steering Committee members, and reviewing the RIC Charter and Timeline for adoption.
View RIC Charter
The RIC Charter provides the goals and framework by which the RIC Steering Committee is guided in adopting the Reconciling in Christ program at Bethel.
View RIC Timeline
The RIC Timeline provides a high-level roadmap of when key activities and milestones are expected to occur in the adoption of the Reconciling in Christ program at Bethel. As our journey continues we will update the roadmap as appropriate. Educational Opportunities listed in the timeline are based on plans at the time of publication. Please refer to the Events page for the most current information regarding RIC educational opportunities and events.
Meet the RIC Steering Committee
I started coming to Bethel occasionally during the mid-1980’s and became a member a few years later. What initially drew me to Bethel was the architecture, music, the traditional service, and the pastor, who was warm, friendly and engaging, and who could deliver great sermons that I could relate to. It was comforting to find that I already knew a number of members from outside of Bethel and get a chance to build on those relationships. I always enjoyed sharing the peace as it provided a warm and peaceful feeling to me and provided an opportunity to follow-up with new and old friends after the service (I’m missing that now and perhaps forever due to Covid-19). I met more members through study groups, special events, mission trips, as a member of the communion team, as a Bethel representative to the synod, and now as a member of the RIC team. I would say that in most of these engagements one of the pastors or a Bethel member reached out to me and asked me to consider participating in them. What a wonderful feeling of belonging when someone reaches out to you, making you feel valued, and that feeling is magnified when belonging to a group! Thank YOU for continually making me feel welcome at Bethel, and I will strive to be more conscientious of paying that forward by welcoming you.
I became an Associate Member of Bethel church in 1984 while studying Sociology and Women’s Studies at UW Madison. My sister and I took the Bethel Bible Series class and we were soon attending services weekly. Having grown up in a small church, the change to such a large, urban church setting was an adjustment, but we were graciously welcomed into the dynamic ministries of Bethel where we found the same Gospel message we had known all our lives. Subsequently, my husband and kids became Bethel members and we were submerged into all Bethel had to offer – Circle, Sunday School, confirmation, Bethel Horizons, Hot Topics (Youth Group), mission trips, and for all of us, music ministries. In 2016, I became a Council member and was amazed to learn that I still didn’t know about all the ministries Bethel provides to so many.
Now, as I look through the Bible my sister gave me when we joined Bethel, I see a lifetime of loving messages that are at the core of my faith: the inscription from Romans 8: 38-39, “For I am convinced that nothing can separate us from the love of God”; the bookmark from my mom with the lyrics of Amazing Grace and the handwritten verse from Philippines 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”; and notes from my Circle sisters, which include the words “acceptance of all people and ideas.” This is the message I have been given over a lifetime and want all to hear as they enter the doors of Bethel: Heaven is in our hearts, it is love and it is for everyone. All are welcome at the table!
“Lord, listen to your children praying. Send us love, send us power, send us grace.” Ken Medema
As a life-long Lutheran, my faith journey brought me to Bethel in 2010 shortly after moving to Madison. As a downtown resident, it was great TO find a new Church home that I could walk to! At first, I thought Bethel was so big I could never feel connected but there were so many things about Bethel that felt good. The many outreach ministries here were a big draw for me and very soon I was involved with Hope House, supporting homeless moms with young children. The music was another draw and before I was a member, I was singing in the Bethel Choir. I soon joined Serenity Circle, an amazing group of welcoming women! Before I knew it, I was participating in a variety of bible studies, ministry teams, and small groups, feeling very welcomed and loved by many in the Bethel community.
Being a part of the RIC Launch Team and now the RIC Steering Team is a blessing to me. The Steering Team members are extremely talented, committed people, and great to work with. The process we are learning and doing to become a more welcoming Congregation gives me the tools to share with the Bethel community in welcoming all to Bethel, especially LGBTQIA+ people. I’m able to give back to my Faith community and live out Jesus new commandment, ‘I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.’ (John 13:34 NRSV)
I started coming to Bethel in March 2019 and would complete the Friendship pad each service noting that I was considering joining Bethel. Almost every week, someone in my pew would introduce themselves and share something about Bethel that makes it special. Serving as an Usher has also helped me meet many Bethel members. Along the way, some kind ladies invited me to their Bible study Circles and I treasure their fellowship. After the 9am service, I usually wander the Emmaus Room with a cup of coffee and can easily strike up a conversation with others. Some are long time Bethel members and some are fairly new like me. All at Bethel have given me a very warm welcome for which I am so thankful!
I am approaching retirement now, but my interest in Bethel goes back to my 30s. I was returning to church after starting a family. Bethel was nearby and full of activity. As part of my new member experience, the pastoral staff invited me to try the Men’s Book Study. It, together with a clear and strong ministry of the word nourished my hunger for a new faith experience. The Bethel community also welcomed my extended family. My parents found sustaining connections here for the last decades of their lives. Others in the family have found connections as Horizons staff, outreach leaders, and music program participants and in youth education and social activities and church leadership. I love meeting new people in my work as an attorney and in the community, family, and church, and have developed strong connections with people in the LGBTQIA+ community in all those roles. It is important that we support a real change in Bethel whereby it will be ever more energetically welcoming to a broad range of people and enrich our experience of faith together.
Hank & Sharon Starkey
We first started attending Bethel in 1971. It took us a couple of years to join Bethel but it was due to Della Koester who came knocking on our door. We had been signing the friendship pad that is still placed in the pews today. At that time it was Pastor Borgwardt that was our draw with his preaching.
Hank was an usher for 40 years, served on the church council, and was active in various groups where we established friendships that are tight to this day. Sharon had taught Sunday School, played in the Bell Choir, served on the Church Council, served on a communion team, and is still active in a church circle. More friends were made. Our three children were all raised at Bethel including, Confirmation, a funeral, and a marriage. We realized what a friendly church this was and we hope it still is to anyone walking through the doors.
When we were asked to be on the RIC team, we quickly said yes. We want ALL to feel welcomed at Bethel. We would like to share why we have these strong welcoming feelings. Our oldest son had his life taken when he was just 21 years old. The reason?? Someone perceived him to be gay. This was a hate crime and whether he was gay or not, his life should not have been taken. If he were here, and walking through the doors of Bethel, we would want him to feel just as welcome as anyone. We might add that all of our Bethel friends were so supportive of this tragedy and for that, we are forever grateful.
In closing, we offer our support of Bethel to continue to make Bethel stronger in welcoming everyone including those from the LGBTQIA+ community to enjoy and worship as we have.