The newly-founded Lutheran Center for Faith, Values and Community and the Taylor Center for Equity and Inclusion recently collaborated to sponsor several events across campus.
On Oct. 16, the two centers hosted the Leading Out event alongside Campus Ministry, which featured a panel of LGBTQIA+ identifying clergy in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), to discuss the history and progress of LGBTQIA+ life in the ELCA.
In December 2019, the Lutheran Center and the Taylor Center are planning to work together on an event addressing religious and LGBTQIA+ identities.
“The goal of this event will be to create space to discuss identities which can at times, but don’t necessarily have to be, in conflict with one another,” said Assistant Director for Gender and Sexuality in the Taylor Center Jon Mergens.
The Lutheran Center and the Taylor Center have collaborated in the past and plan to continue collaboration into the future in order to promote diversity and inclusion centered around religious acceptance.
In October 2019, the Taylor Center also hosted two events for LGBTQIA+ History Month, where they engaged with students in Buntrock Commons for National Coming Out Day and Pronouns Day.
“The purpose behind those events were to build community and visibility for our LGBTQIA+ students, faculty and staff,” Mergens said.
Deanna Thompson is the founding director of the Lutheran Center, which attempts to maintain the College’s religious heritage in a modern context while promoting religious diversity and inclusion.
“[The center] is trying to offer programming and exploration of what it means to be a Lutheran institution in the 21st century,” Thompson said. “Very often in programming and in practice, religion doesn’t get very much attention.”
Central to the Center’s mission is utilizing core values of diversity and intersectionality in collaboration with other organizations to create a more welcoming and diverse religious atmosphere. These goals align well with efforts by the Taylor Center, which at its core is a space for student empowerment and acceptance. Ever since its establishment this academic year, the Taylor Center has played a large role in student life.
In addition to their collaborations with the Taylor Center, the Lutheran Center plans on working with the Piper Center to assist students interested in entering ministry work.
“The Lutheran Center has applied for a grant to focus on deepening and expanding conversations on vocation,” Thompson said. “So if we get that grant, then obviously the Piper Center for Vocation and Career will be an important partner.”
The newly-founded Lutheran Center has been actively involved in student life via event planning and collaboration, and will continue to be at the forefront of the College’s ongoing efforts to create a more equitable and diverse atmosphere.