A queer-friendly woman with tattoos and short, spiked hair, Rev. Nadia Bolz-Weber doesn't look like a traditional minister. And her Lutheran congregation, House for All Sinners and Saints, doesn't seem like the most traditional place either; its home page is now promoting a "Blessing of the Bicycles" during which canes, crutches, wheelchairs, and "anything else that helps you move around without electricity or gas" can also be blessed.
So it's no surprise that the Denver church, affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, is an LGBT-inclusive one, or that Bolz-Weber was tapped to be part of the Nines, an annual virtual conference sponsored by a Christian group called Leadership Network, which encourages churches to adopt innovative ideas. "Culture Crash" is the theme for this year's conference, which will be broadcast online November 4-5.
"Changes in our culture used to be measured in decades, then in years, then in months. Now though, it seems, our cultural changes in weeks and days in some instances. When the cultural trends clash with the church, the church needs to respond. We hope to start the conversations with church leaders this year with our topic: Culture Crash," the event's website says. Same-sex marriage is one of the "culture crash" topics that is slated for discussion, as is "changing sexual norms."
Bolz-Weber, author of the memoir Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner and Saint, made a video in advance of the Nines in which she gave some of her parishoners the chance to talk about their experiences.
Here are some quotes from the video:
"I am a Christian because God didn't give me a choice in the matter and because he loves me when I'm unlovable. I also take issue with being referred to as an issue, and I am the church."
"I am queer, I am part of the church, and I am not an issue."
"I'm still a Christian because I am so drawn to the character of Christ and his teachings and actions of nonviolence. I happen to be gay, and I am the church."
"I also happen to be queer, and I am not a cultural phenomenon."
"To imply that I need to change implies that I know better than God what God has planned in my life. I'm trans and queer, and I am the church."
View the full video below.