One life-long Lutheran is crying tears of joy.
By Neil Ellis Orts
On Friday, August 21, the voting members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in American (ELCA), meeting in Minneapolis for Churchwide Assembly, passed resolutions that will make way for people in “publicly accountable life-long, monogamous, same gender relationships” to serve as pastors and other professional leadership positions. The 4.6-million-member church becomes the largest denomination in the U.S. to take this step.
This is not an objective report. This is a personally engaged statement from a stakeholder in these events. I am a theologically trained, gay, life-long Lutheran. I have not cried this much out of joy since, well, ever.
There will be a process to this. I do not feel it will happen overnight. Also part of the resolutions was a call for respect for the “bound conscience” of other members. This means a congregation is not required to call a gay pastor, neither is a current pastor required to officiate at a same-gender commitment ceremony. The door is now open, however. A gay or lesbian Lutheran now has more options on how to live out his or her faith in the ELCA.
Special mention must be made of the ELCA’s presiding bishop, Mark Hanson. He presided over the assembly with grace, wit, and pastoral concern for all the people under his care.
As I write this on Sunday, August 23, I am monitoring comments made on Facebook. Some are full of anger, some of gratitude. We will no doubt lose some members, but perhaps gain some, too. As for me, I’ve never been so glad to be a member of the ELCA.
Neil Ellis Orts is frequent contributor to OutSmart magazine.