As part of our initiative called Curious Cornhuskers, an anonymous reader asked The Daily Nebraskan, “Are there LGBTQ-affirming spiritual communities at UNL?”
College offers many young adults the opportunity for personal growth. Many students, like Archer Mumm, a senior classics and religious studies major, find themselves growing into their true selves throughout college. In their first two years at college, Mumm grew more comfortable in their sexuality and, through The University of Nebraska-Lincoln Lutheran Center, discovered their spirituality.
The Lutheran Center provides a safe, LGBTQA+-affirming spiritual community for UNL students, something that Campus Pastor Adam White has been focusing on achieving the past couple of years.
“We believe God is for everyone, especially those that are marginalized,” White said. “God loves LGBTQIA+ people fully and completely as they are. We want to live, preach and be a spiritual community in a way that bears witness to that truth.”
The Lutheran Center has supported the LGBTQA+ community, having held events such as Christianity and Queerness in partnership with the LGBTQA+ resource center the past two years. Christianity and Queerness aims to highlight the fact that both spiritual and LGBTQA+ communities can coexist. Additionally, the Lutheran Center pastors aim to incorporate their acceptance and support of LGBTQA+ community in their services and worship.
“We create a space where they can be themselves … and we manifest that in our worship life,” White said. “With this week being national coming out day on Sunday, we are going to include a prayer for LGBTQIA+ folks in our liturgy. We have partnered multiple times with the resource center … during COVID-19 one of the things we did was a Queer Eye watch party during the season premiere and held a study afterwards.
Many of the students involved with the Lutheran Center come from different or non-religious backgrounds and have found a spiritual home in the Lutheran Center. Mumm, who is transgender and queer, was first introduced to the Lutheran Center through a friend who invited them to play Dungeons and Dragons at the center. Mumm grew up in a strictly antireligion family. However, due to the community and friendliness they experienced at the center, they began going to religious services just a few months later.
“The friend that introduced me to the [Dungeons and Dragons] group is bisexual, so when I first went to the Lutheran Center I had at least some confidence that they weren’t going to immediately murder me, but I was still nervous entering a religious space like that,” Mumm said. “I started hanging out in the lounge because everyone was so nice and welcoming. It felt like a nice place to be and a good place to start a spiritual journey. Even if people still had some learning to do, it felt like everyone there understood and welcomed me.”
In 2018, Mumm said they became the first openly queer person baptized in the Lutheran faith at the Lutheran Center. Mumm now devotes their work at the Lutheran Center to participating in the Reconciling in Christ project that is working toward affirming the Lutheran Center’s support of the LGBTQA+ community. Additionally, Mumm is working with Nebraska Lutheran Campus Ministry to create a resource website that will educate students on LGBTQA+ topics and provide them with accurate information and terminology to be able to support and affirm their peers.
According to White, the Lutheran Center staff recognizes that being an LGBTQA+-affirming spiritual community isn’t a one-and-done deal. They are constantly working toward their goal of providing a spiritual home for all people.
“We recognize that we’re not there yet,” White said. “As a community, we’re still working on being more and more affirming and thinking about what steps we need to take to be a brave space for LGBTQIA+ students.”