Ten years ago, there was another “Churchwide Assembly,” like the one last month when Lutherans debated, voted, and passed the sanctuary church declaration. Back in 2009, the ELCA changed its policies and allowed for the ordination of married gay clergy.
I celebrated that 2009 decision. Before it, I advocated for a similar outcome and even participated in civil disobedience at the 2005 ELCA Churchwide Assembly. I did so out of love and loyalty to gay brothers and sisters in Christ who both survived and died by suicide, who lived in painful “closets” or on the street after parents threw them out, whose calls to ministry were denied and denigrated.
But as an intern-pastor in Bradenton, Florida, I was afraid to name this love and loyalty in the bible studies I myself led, the very studies published to help the church discern before the 2005 Churchwide Assembly. I now regret this silence. I failed to trust the people I served. I was afraid to be known.
At St. Paul, as we discuss the sanctuary decision and always, I want to create shelter and protection that invites all of us out of hiding and into loving community with God. Voicing fully our love and loyalties, we also invite each other to deeper love and wider loyalty.
Saint Paul Lutheran Church
715 South Third Street
Clinton, IA 52732
(at the foot of the south bridge)