Ad Hoc Committee on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity will host Sunday afternoon forums

In June and July the Ad Hoc Committee on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity hosted numerous listening sessions for Grace members. More than 60 people ranging from teenagers to people in their 90s shared opinions, hopes, concerns, and beliefs about how Grace could become a more welcoming community of believers. To deepen this conversation our committee will host three Sunday afternoon forums this fall.

Niedner2013.jpgSunday, October 16, 2:30–4:30 p.m.

Conversations on Scripture and Sexuality
This forum will feature two pastors who know Grace Church well. The Rev. Dr. Fred Niedner and the Rev. Dr. Jeff Leininger will have a conversation about how their understanding and interpretation of the scriptures shape their views concerning sexual orientation, gender identity, and same-sex relationships. The forum will allow time for Fred and Jeff to present their perspectives, discuss differences, and for audience members to ask questions of the guest speakers.

Fred Niedner is a Senior Research Professor and Former Chair of the Theology Department at Valparaiso University. His ongoing work in biblical theology focuses on narrative portions of the scriptures, with particular attention to the wilderness tradition, stories of forgiveness and reconciliation, and the ways that biblical stories create a world in which listeners find meaning, identity and vocation. Fred has his B.A. from Concordia Senior College, M.Div. and S.T.M. from Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, and his Th.D. from Christ Seminary-Seminex.

Leininger.jpgJeff Leininger has served as Concordia University Chicago’s University Pastor since 2002. He graduated from Concordia University, St. Paul, majoring in theatre. Jeff has his M.Div. from Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, and received his M.Phil and Ph.D. in Divinity (Church History) at Cambridge University. Jeff also directs the Spiritual Life activities on campus, the Pre-Seminary Program, and supports the University’s Church Relations office.

Sunday, October 23, 2:30–4:30 p.m.

Scientific and Cultural Perspectives on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
Dr. George Hogenson will present an overview of what is known about homosexuality and gender identity from biological, cultural and psychological perspectives. A substantial portion of his practice is with gay, lesbian, and transgender individuals. The intent of this presentation is to provide objective information on LGBTQ issues that can be of use to Grace members.

Hogenson.jpgGeorge Hogenson has his B.A. in philosophy from St. Olaf College, a Ph.D. in philosophy from Yale University, and an M.A. in clinical social work from the University of Chicago,. He is affiliated with the
C. G. Jung Institute of Chicago. His work focuses on Jungian psychoanalysis and therapy with individuals, as well as work with survivors of trauma, gender identity issues, and spiritual growth. George is a member of Grace and a Jungian psychoanalyst with a private practice in the Chicago Loop.

Sunday November 6, 2:30–4:30 p.m.

A Graceful Conversation for Grace
The third forum is subtitled “What Does This Mean?” It will be led by Pastor Lyle. This forum will be an opportunity to learn more about how we, as Lutherans, view matters of sexual orientation and gender identity, how we can seek to be welcoming and faithful, and how we center all such conversations in the grace of God given through Jesus Christ.
It is our hope that Grace Church would be a more welcoming place for all of God’s children. We look forward to seeing you at these three important events. If you have questions for our committee please email us at

Brian Becker, Ad Hoc Committee Chair
Linda Bernard, Sue Foran, Case Hoogendoorn, Chris Lueking, Craig Mindrum, Becky Morgan, Greg Rohlfing, Gick Schmidt, Pastor Dave Lyle