Subject: Lutherans embrace sexual minorities
The Lutheran Church Embraces the LGBT Community
George Bernard Shaw once said, “Certainly all great truths begin as blasphemies.” On April 11, 2010, those who identify as people of faith and as “non-heterosexual” were given particular cause to celebrate Shaw’s wisdom: a most unlikely church has given a most unlikely people a gift of love and truth, and I cannot stop smiling.
After twenty-five years of deliberation, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) Church Council has abolished its anti-gay policies, effective immediately. Following from discussions at the ELCA Churchwide Assembly last summer, the ELCA will now allow people in same-sex relationships to serve as rostered leaders. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) human beings are no longer considered abominations but blessed church members with full standing. Same-sex partners and families can now fully participate in the ELCA Pension Plan.
Best of all, the ELCA is reinstating people who were removed from ministry positions because they were truthful and came out of the closet, as well as those who conducted holy unions for non-heterosexual couples. The ELCA has practiced restorative justice.
The Lutherans — breaking from Garrison Keillor stereotypes as shy, retiring, or stoic — said, “Just do it!” All votes passed overwhelmingly, with no votes against and no drawn-out hassles about how to implement the policies.
I’m particularly grateful to the ELCA for adding restoration to its reforms. My colleague, Rev. Paul W. Egerston, faithfully pastored and served as Bishop in the Lutheran church for 31 years. He resigned one month before the end of his term in 2001. Why? He ordained a lesbian as a Pastor and took a public stand for justice in opposition to the official anti-gay policy of the ELCA. Now, Paul and his wife, Shirley, and their six children, 12 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren can take a day off. I believe that through the ELCA’s restoration, God has sent them a message, “Well done, my good and faithful servants.”