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Is the church listening on gay clergy?
“(In regard) to your article about your church’s struggle with the issue of homosexuality in the church, I take exception to the use of the terms ‘Lutheran churches’ and ‘Lutherans have,’” writes Dennis Splett of Bremerton.
“I am confident that had you given it some thought you would have realized that those terms, as seen by most of your readers, are inclusive of all Lutheran churches and synods. It would have been better if you had maintained a narrower definition of your church, Our Saviour’s, and the ELCA.
“Had you done that, I and many other Lutherans would not be called to explain to anyone why we are holding hands with the Episcopalians on this issue, why we have gay pastors (regardless of how they are qualified) and why we are performing gay marriages. My Lutheran church is doing none of these things, and when it begins to do them I will no longer be a member of that church.”
I wrote early in that column that, “We took a vote in the church years back on where we stood when it comes to allowing partnered gay clergy to serve and permitting the marriage in the Evangelical Lutheran Churches in America of lesbians and gays.”
I specified ELCA in every column I wrote about the issue so readers should have been aware the Lutherans I spoke of are not the Missouri Synod, Wisconsin Synod or other Synods not affiliated with the Episcopal Church, thus not involved in the effort by the hierarchy of the ELCA and their new partners to allow gay pastors and gay marriages.
I mislaid a letter from another reader who took issue with my saying that, “Homosexuals are welcome in my church. They may sit by me if they choose.”
I said that because when I told the group I was meeting with that while I opposed gay pastors and gay weddings in the church, I was not opposed to homosexual members.
A person in the group asked me if such members could sit by me. I said yes, if they choose to do so.
The meetings I was writing about were held in October, about 120 nationwide, to discuss the first draft of an ELCA social statement on human sexuality.
A task force will review responses and revise it for action at the annual church-wide meeting next year.
The Lutheran magazine reported on the meeting of the Southwest Washington ELCA group in Olympia and said the topics receiving the most discussion were whether sexuality was a choice, the weighting of religion against science, commitment ceremonies and the definition of marriage as between a man and a woman.
Those attending our local meeting were asked to send their individual assessments and suggestions to the ELCA headquarters in Chicago. I wrote what I have said all along, and my church has voted in large numbers for — a ban on gay pastors and gay marriages, both of which are being done anyway despite being against church rules.
I also said I believe merging with the Episcopalians was a mistake.
I received an answer from Katie English, communications coordinator for the Task Force for ELCA Studies on Sexuality, saying my comments would be passed along to the Task Force.
“The subject of sexuality, and particularly the subject of homosexuality, brings to the fore our strongest convictions,” she wrote. “There are many in the church who share your view and many who think quite differently.”
The church has been urged, she said, “to concentrate on finding ways to live together faithfully in the midst of disagreements, recognizing the God-given mission and communion that we share as members of the body of Christ.”
I just wonder how many times congregations have to say no to be believed.
Adele Ferguson can be reached at
PO Box 69, Hansville, WA 98340.