Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Holy Trinity Lutheran Increases Benevolence In Response to Decisions By Others to Withhold

Press Release: Holy Trinity Lutheran Increases Benevolence In Response to Decisions By Others to Withhold

For Immediate Release November 23, 2009

Lutherans Concerned/North America Media Contact: Phil Soucy, 703-980-2038, communications@lcna.org

Holy Trinity Lutheran, Minneapolis, Minnesota, is a caring, outreaching, welcoming congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). It is a church that sees harm done by or to others, wrongs that need righting, and does what it can to provide relief.

Its mission in outreach to assuage the ills caused by the actions or inactions of others includes a commitment to affordable housing. Some years ago, Holy Trinity built 120 project-based Section 8 units. With a recent addition, there are now a total of 144 units on the Holy Trinity campus.

Holy Trinity participates in Bread for the World, Lutheran World Relief, serving meals through Loaves and Fishes, and Habitat for Humanity, among many other outreach mission commitments to help others. Holy Trinity is a Reconciling in Christ congregation.

Therefore, when the congregation saw the withholding of benevolence by some congregations and individuals, angered by the decisions taken by the August 2009 Churchwide Assembly, it came as no surprise that the congregation would act to help relieve the wrongful harm done.

The subject came up at a congregational meeting, and a member of the Finance Committee suggested that the congregation increase its benevolence to the ELCA to provide both a response and some relief.

The Rev. Jay Carlson, Lead Pastor at Holy Trinity, said, "The Finance Committee announced their intention at our annual stewardship breakfast on Sunday morning, saying that it could be both an opportunity to show our support for the August vote and to help with the financial challenges that the synod is now facing. Immediately, the speaker was interrupted by a hearty round of applause. I knew that Holy Trinity members were generally supportive of the decision, but I was surprised by how eager they were to increase their financial support in response."

The congregation will vote on its budget in January, at which time the size of the increase will be decided.

Pastor Carlson continued, "Holy Trinity has a long history of generous mission support, and this decision to increase their giving reflects the extent to which the congregation values the breadth of mission we can do together, locally and globally, through the larger church."

Pastor Carlson can be reached at jaymcarlson@htlcmpls.org, office phone is 612-729-8358.

Obviously, the exhortation passed by the 2009 ELCA churchwide assembly to live together in the midst of disagreements has a vastly different meaning for those like Holy Trinity who believe that Lutherans should do no harm to each other or others over a disagreement in interpretation of Scripture.

About Lutherans Concerned:
Working at the intersection of oppressions, Lutherans Concerned/North America (LC/NA) embodies, inspires, advocates and organizes for the acceptance and full participation of people of all sexual orientations and gender identities within the Lutheran communion and its ecumenical and global partners. LC/NA is based in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Phil Soucy
Director Communications LC/NA
communications@lcna.org

Friday, November 20, 2009

RIC church website showcased both for its elegant design and its Christ-like vision

“Ugh! How gaudy!”

Apparently my very Lutheran classmate didn’t appreciate the soaring vaulted ceilings, intricate gilded plasterwork, and pastel-colored frescoes of angels and cherubs displayed on our professor’s PowerPoint. In fact, he didn’t seem to appreciate a lot of the imagery in our Protestant Reformation history course, whether it was this overwhelmingly complex cathedral of the Catholic Counter-Reformation or the stark plainness of the small Calvinist churches.

When it comes to religious iconography, Lutherans tend to be firmly-planted fence-sitters. We recognize that there is something inspirational or even divine within works of beauty, but we are also firmly committed to a gospel that commands our humility in the face of both God and our fellow humans. Lutheran churches, as a result, tend to fall somewhere between inspirational “high church” decadence and plain, puritan starkness. One sanctuary I’ve visited had clearly been professionally and expertly remodeled to be as tastefully and beautifully ascetic as possible, complete with the words “SOLA SCRIPTVRA” carved into the white marble floor. Clearly, scripture alone just isn’t the same unless you’ve etched it into the ground.

Besides church buildings, websites have become a congregation’s most publicly visible incarnation. And just like our buildings, our websites manifest our ambivalent theology of beauty: Do we design them to be attractive to web surfers, or do we design them solely to fulfill an explicitly godly purpose?

As we at LC/NA recently learned, it’s fully possible to meet both goals. Lord of Life Lutheran Church of Columbus, Ohio used Joomla!, a content-management system that allows users to design websites using templates rather than from plain code, to design its website. When they submitted their site to Joomla’s Community Showcase, they may not have expected the response they got.

“Though the site showcase has many submissions, occasionally one will hit a bit close to home,” wrote one member of the Joomla! Showcase team. Lord of Life’s website had been selected as one of only 33 “Religion and Spirituality” sites the Showcase, he wrote them, but it had also affected him personally:

I am from the South and it is rare to find a church that has the ability to discern what it means to be Christ-like rather than "religious." Here, church is almost more of an "enterprise" rather than a place of worship. […] I spent a good bit of time on your (well-designed) site and believe your vision of what it means to be a Christian is amazing. I am especially amazed at LoL being a Reconciling in Christ church and from a personal point wish to simply say "Thanks."

We here at LC/NA would like to echo the Joomla! team’s thanks and congratulations to Lord of Life. As their recent accomplishment in the Joomla! Community Showcase has shown, sometimes a little Lutheran-style fence-sitting is just what we need to reach those on either side of us.

Ben Refling
LVC Intern and Special Projects Coordinator for Youth, Young Adult and Family Ministries
Lutherans Concerned/North America

P.S. The Joomla's Showcase Team member's views may (or may not) differ from those of Joomla! or the other team members

Welcome Home - A Service of Celebration and Inclusion in Las Cruces, New Mexico

Welcome Home - A Service of Celebration and Inclusion is offered by the Paso del Norte Chapter of Lutherans Concerned /North America. The service is offered in celebration of the actions of the ELCA Churchwide Assembly in August. The 2009 Churchwide Assembly actions allow ELCA congregations that wish to do so to recognize and support publicly accountable, life-long, monogamous same-gender relationships. The ELCA also committed itself to allow people in such same-gender relationships to serve as rostered pastors and ministers. Potluck to follow.

Sunday, November 22, 3:00 p.m
Peace Lutheran Church
1701 East Missouri Ave
Las Cruces, New Mexico
575-522-7119

The decision has made a world of difference

For many, the decisions made by the 2009 Churchwide Assembly have helped to present an "open door" for LGBT people and their families for the first time.

When I attended a Lutheran school I used to chastise the campus ministry department for not being “Christian” enough. From my fundamentalist perspective, the Bible was always clear in everything it said and Lutheran theology and tradition didn’t fit within that. I called it “too liberal” at the time but now I come to believe it’s more thoughtful. Here it is seven years after I graduated from that Lutheran institution, and I’ve come to see the Lutheran perspective on theology and Scripture as deep, reflective, and more true to the spirit of Christ than my fundamentalist perspective ever was.

I started attending an ELCA church in September of 2008. I had spent years slowly drifting from the evangelical circles I once called home. Many people made it clear that I could not wrestle with my sexuality nor question the interpretation of Scripture in those environments. I knew Christ was real but the way to approach him seemed muddled. Though I have a seminary degree and am a former youth pastor, my literal interpretation of Scripture wasn’t working and all my knowledge of the Bible wasn’t helping me figure the problem out. I couldn’t sync the only view of Scripture I knew with reality. I decided I wanted a church that was progressive yet Christ focused, something that is not always easy to find.

I find it extremely ironic that the Lutheran church is now where I call home. My church background consisted of warehouses turned sanctuaries, rock music and khaki shorts rather than pews, stained glass and an organ (yet I’m coming to appreciate the finer parts of liturgy). It is with a bit more maturity this time around that I’ve begun studying Lutheran teaching. One thing that spurred this new desire to study was the five weeks my church spent dissecting the proposed social statement on human sexuality in preparation for the 2009 Churchwide Assembly in Minneapolis this past August. The thoughtfulness put into such a statement and the willingness to stay united despite strong views on both sides of the isle is commendable. While I know not everyone who is against the assembly’s decisions can be called a “fundamentalist,” I nevertheless wish I had known about the idea of bound conscience earlier! Taking the church on that path is not an easy road, but it is one I believe honors Christ.

When the Churchwide Assembly voted to approve the social statement on human sexuality, I felt such a sense of relief. Finally! A church I wanted to be a part of wanted to include me fully in all aspects of the church. Since the Churchwide Assembly, my boyfriend and I have decided to become members at our church. He sings in the choir and I serve as an usher. Some may not approve of the decision the church made in August but for me, and for others like me who sit quietly in the pews on Sunday and serve as we are needed, the decision has made a world of difference.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Give to the Max Updated Numbers

Give to the Max Updated Numbers
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The good folks at GiveMN.org have put out a more “official” report.
Lutherans Concerned/North America had 108 donors, giving $12,830. The whole amount was eligible for a match, so we got $518.53 in matching funds.

Thanks to everyone who helped make this day a success!



LC/NA Responds with Sadness to the Idea of a New Lutheran Body Opposing Full Inclusion of LGBT People

For Immediate Release

November 19, 2009
Lutherans Concerned/North America
Contact: Emily Eastwood, Executive Director, 952-239-3359, exec@lcna.org

Lutherans Concerned/North America (LC/NA) responded with sadness to yesterday's announcement proposing a new church body to be formed by and for former ELCA members and congregations opposing the full inclusion of people of all sexual orientations and gender identities in the life of the church.

In August 2009, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, by a 2/3 majority, passed a social statement on sexuality. The statement, "Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust," described as faithful four positions on beliefs within the denomination on the inclusion of people in same-gender relationships. The four positions ranged from the view that same-gender sexual behavior is sinful, calling gay and lesbian people to life-long celibacy, to the belief that the community is best served when same-gender relationships are lived out within lifelong and monogamous commitments. The passage of the social statement respecting the four views set the stage for the elimination of policies excluding ministers in same-gender relationships.

Responding to yesterday's announcement, Emily Eastwood, Executive Director of LC/NA, said, "You might think we would be happy that those who oppose the full inclusion of LGBT people and their families would be leaving the ELCA. Well, we're not.

"We know first hand what happens within families when a member comes out as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. Often there is a period of denial, fear and anger, sometimes sadly resulting in temporary or life-long estrangement. In August the ELCA finally came out about its LGBT members and ministers and the congregations who accept and advocate for them. It seems with yesterday's announcement that some ELCA Lutherans cannot even tolerate being in the same church family with congregations who accept us. Anger and fear have overtaken the great commandments from Jesus himself: to love God, and to love your neighbor as yourself.

"For 35 years LC/NA has never isolated itself from those who disagree with us. Nor have we threatened to lead an exodus from the denomination by those congregations who found the wait too long or the social statement well short of the advocacy needed for LGBT people in church and society. We have never called for congregations to withhold giving to the ELCA; in fact, we encourage additional stewardship, especially in times like these.

"Since 2007, the leadership of LC/NA has requested dialogue with the leadership of Lutheran groups vocally opposing full inclusion. To date, only one such leader has responded to our requests for engagement. We know that families stay together out of love even when they disagree on some subjects. Reconciliation takes time, respect and relentless care. LC/NA stands ready for that reconciling work. We believe that wherever and whenever two or more are gathered in Christ's name, the Holy Spirit will be present, stirring our hearts and minds to greater love of God and the neighbor."

Since the August decisions, LC/NA has responded to requests for information, education, and pastoral care for members of congregations and synods where vocal groups opposing the apparent and growing tolerance within the ELCA have sought to divide, to withhold giving to the denomination, to force accepting pastors to resign, or ultimately to leave the ELCA. LC/NA has called its members to reach out to those disaffected by the August decisions with love and respect.

About Lutherans Concerned/North America
Working at the intersection of oppressions, Lutherans Concerned/North America (LC/NA) embodies, inspires, advocates and organizes for the acceptance and full participation of people of all sexual orientations and gender identities within the Lutheran communion and its ecumenical and global partners. LC/NA is based in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Emily Eastwood
Executive Director
exec@lcna.org

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Give to the Max Day, Unofficial Results

Some unoffical results of yesterday's giving event...

GiveMN’s Give to the Max Day has ended. There will be more official results in a day or so, but they have posted some unofficial results. We wanted to report how it all went.

As previously mentioned, this was a 24-hour fund drive for ALL Minnesota non-profits. The unofficial numbers are as follows: In total: $13,229,292 was raised for 3,141 charities. That's amazing!

LC/NA's slice: We were able to raise $12,830. Because there was a finite amount of matching funds, we will probably get $485 in matching funds. However, GiveMN also paid our credit card fees, which allow us to keep the whole amount. Normally, we would have to pay $610 in credit card fees. So it turned out very well.

Thank you for contributing, for passing it along to others, and for indulging us as we moved quickly to take advantage of this opportunity!

We will post the official results as the come to us.



Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Now is the to GIVE! All donations matched for a very LIMITED time only!




Hey folks... if you've been waiting for an excuse to go out and make your tax-deductible donation to LC/NA, now is the time to do it! giveMN.org is sponsoring Give to the Max Day, RIGHT NOW, from 8am CST on November 17th to 8am CST November 18th.

Every donation will be matched up to $2,500, administrative fees are covered so that LC/NA receives 100% of your donation, you don't have to be a Minnesota resident to donate, and of course, we will be eternally grateful if you help us out!

What's not to love?

Head to the Lutherans Concerned donation page on giveMN.org now to take advantage of this amazing event!

If you want a more detailed explanation, here's the full scoop from Emily Eastwood:

Lutherans Concerned/North America has been given a wonderful opportunity, and we need your help to fulfill it. Beginning November 17th for 24 HOURS ONLY, any donation given through giveMN.org will be MATCHED, and administrative fees will be offset with additional matching so that LC/NA will receive 100% of the donation! A new online charitable giving site for Minnesota-based nonprofits, was recently launched. They are celebrating November 17 as "Give to the Max Day."Consider making your gift online at giveMN.org between 8:00 AM (CST) on Tuesday, November 17 and 8:00 AM (CST) Wednesday, November 18 to increase the impact of your gift. This is a very special opportunity for those who feel they cannot give as much as they would like, those who cannot find matching funds elsewhere, for those outside Minnesota, and for those who really want to make a contribution in these difficult economic times.

A pool of $500,000 in matching funds will be divided among organizations receiving gifts that day, proportionate to the amount donated. This means the exact amount matched per dollar donated will be determined after Give to the Max Day concludes. More donations to LC/NA on that day result in more matching funds--helping us continue to work for the full participation of people of all sexual orientations and gender identities in the life of the Lutheran Church.

Plus, the three nonprofits that receive donations from the most individual donors will receive cash prizes: $5,000 for first prize, $2,500 for second, and $1,000 for third.

Other important things you should know:

* There are no administrative fees-100% of your donation goes directly to LC/NA.

* All donations are tax deductible.

* Contributions may be made via credit card only.

* The minimum contribution is $10. There is no maximum contribution, although matching will only go up to $2,500 per donor.

* Donors do not have to live in Minnesota, since LC/NA is based in St. Paul, MN.

How to do it:

1. Visit the Lutherans Concerned donation page between 8:00 AM CST on Tuesday, November 17 and 8:00 AM CST on Wednesday, November 18 (this link is provided to bring you directly to the LC/NA page without searching)

2. Make a donation on the right side of the page

3. A large number of donations at the beginning of the day may cause delays. If so, please go back later. ALL DONATIONS during the 24 hour period will be matched!

You may also browse other MN-based non-profits that you would be interested in donating to. You can do that after your donation to LC/NA!

Emily Eastwood said, "I am grateful for organizations, like giveMN.org who make philanthropy a whole lot easier. I hope that many of our members and supporters take the opportunity to have their contribution make an increased impact."

We will send a follow-up All Member Email that describes how much was given on Give to the Max day, as well as the total matching funds we will receive.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Lutherans Concerned Pleased With ELCA Waiver of Five-Year Waiting Period for Reinstatement of Dismissed LGBT Pastors

The Church Council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) reached near unanimity in removing the five-year waiting period for reinstatement of ministers who have been removed or resigned from the rosters of the church solely because they were in committed, same-gender relationships.

At its semi-annual meeting at the Chicago headquarters of the 4.6 million member church body, the Church Council by voice vote overwhelmingly approved the waiver of the prohibition forbidding application for reinstatement until 5 years had passed since the removal or resignation. The five-year waiting period is a general policy applying to anyone who had been removed for any disciplinary cause or who resigned voluntarily. The waiver granted by Sunday's action only applies to those removed and those who resigned solely for the reason of their being in a same-gender, committed relationship. Applications to begin the reinstatement process can now be submitted immediately. The process is individual and can vary in the length of time for completion.

This action by the Church Council is the first official enactment of the church council pursuant to actions at the August 2009 Churchwide Assembly in Minneapolis that ordered the elimination of the policy that precluded service in the church by ministers in committed, same-gender relationships. Also today, the church council soundly defeated a proposed amendment to policy that would have required an additional step of approval for candidates in same-gender relationships by 2/3 of the synod council's executive committee in order to be reinstated.

In August 2009 the churchwide assembly, the highest legislative body of the ELCA, said that the church would find ways to continue to respect as faithful a range of views regarding the inclusion of people of all sexual orientations and gender identities, to find ways to support and recognize committed same-gender relationships, and to find ways to allow ministers in such relationships to serve. Finally, the assembly eliminated the policy barriers to such service that had been in place for 20 years.

The task of making those decisions real in the life of the church now falls on the various functions of the staff and committees of the church, in consultation with the Conference of Bishops, bringing the documentation required to the Church Council for approval. The bulk of the remaining changes are expected to go before the Church Council at its April 2010 meeting.

Emily Eastwood, Executive Director of Lutherans Concerned/North America, said of the decisions, "Today's actions of the church council were decisive and appropriate. The reinstatement process can take up to a year, but the good news is that ministers may begin that process now, rather than waiting five years from the point of removal or resignation. The sound defeat of the amendment which would have placed pastors in same-gender relationships in the same category with those removed because of adultery or embezzlement has signaled the desire of the church to treat ministers in same-gender relationships with respect and hospitality, a first step toward righting the wrongs of the past."

The action by the Church Council directly affects Pastor Bradley Schmeling of St. John's Lutheran church in Atlanta, Georgia. He was removed from the roster of ELCA pastors in 2007 following an ecclesiastical trial. The sole reason he was removed was his lifelong, committed, same-gender relationship. The ELCA has listed St. John's pulpit as "vacant" since then, despite the fact that the congregation resolutely retained Bradley as its pastor and holds services every Sunday.

Pr. Bradley Schmeling said of the Church Council action today: "I'm grateful to see the church move forward in implementing this summer's decision to create a church that fully welcomes the gifts of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Lutherans. By eliminating the five-year wait rule, it will allow me to begin the process of returning to the roster of the church. I'm already looking forward to my reinstatement, and I'm ready to bring to a close my three year sojourn off the roster of the church. The vote today allows so many of us to begin to imagine that a future in the church is genuinely possible. Of course, we have to work to do to continue the process of making the ELCA a truly just and inclusive church, but today's vote marks an important milestone."


Phil Soucy
Director Communications LC/NA
communications@lcna.org

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

I Love to Tell the Story: Storytelling Training Webinar

"I Love to Tell the Story: Storytelling Training Webinar"
Saturday, January 23, 2010
12 noon - 3:00 p.m. Central Standard Time Wherever_you_are, Earth

Register today by contacting Ben Refling by email or by calling 651-665-0861.

Storytelling happens wherever two or more are gathered. But on January 23, 2010, from Noon–3:00 p.m. Central time, storytelling training can happen anywhere, too—preferably wherever three are gathered.

Lutherans Concerned/North America (LC/NA) is offering a free "webinar" to train scores of people all over the country to tell their own stories strategically, compellingly, and efficiently, honing stories into powerful, two-minute instruments for persuasion. This webinar will focus on integrating your own stories with talking points and positive frames for engaging the church to achieve the full welcome and inclusion of all. You will then be able to use these skills to tell your story at congregation and synod events. In light of the recent actions of the ELCA to move towards full inclusion, this training will give you a powerful tool to get the message out about your life in Christ.

Strategic storytelling is one of the most powerful methods of faith-based community organizing. It is the lynchpin of our efforts to get the "movable middle" understanding what full inclusion means in the life of the church and to the lives of its members. Our goal is to prepare 1,000 storytellers all across the country to tell their stories. Participants will learn to
  • put faces on abstract concepts, making them personal
  • begin new relationships
  • communicate values through emotions
  • teach, inspire, and motivate others to action
  • present one training session in their own synod between now and the end of synod assembly season 2010
The training on January 23 will be a "webinar." All you need is a computer equipped with a DVD player/drive, email access, a telephone with speaker phone capability, and two storytelling partners (that's you and two others). The only cost will be for your long-distance phone minutes; if you have unlimited long distance, you pay nothing more. Specific instructions about how to connect and how the files necessary to the conduct of the training will be made available to you will be communicated prior to the training.

Each participant, working in groups of three, will be voice-connected with the trainer via teleconference and will follow a PowerPoint presentation and recorded video links sent to you in advance. Each group will then practice and critique stories, sending questions via email to the trainer as the training progresses.

Strategic storytelling practice happens in groups of three. So, start organizing people now!

Contact your chapter to see if they are organizing for this event.

Get three, six, or nine people together, find a good meeting place with broadband internet (and a large screen projector or monitor, if you are able), and you're all set.

Even if you've already been trained in storytelling, as many were at previous assemblies and last year's webinar, please consider participating. The January 23 training will give you further opportunity to practice and will be focused specifically toward furthering full inclusion.

When we tell our stories to even one other person, the Holy Spirit is most certainly present. When we inspire that person to tell two or three others, justice begins to roll.

Remember, you will need to do the training in groups of three. If you don't know of others in your synod who might be interested, please let us know so we can help.

Register today by contacting Ben Refling by email or by calling 651-665-0861.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Metro DC Chapter of Lutherans Concerned Raises Funds for LGBT Youth

On October 9, 2009, the Metro Washington DC Chapter of LC/NA held its annual banquet and fund raiser. This year it was hosted at Christ Lutheran Church. The focus for the fund-raising was LGBT youth. Pastor Heidi Neumark of Trinity Lutheran of Manhattan was the keynote speaker for the evening. She told many poignant stories of the youth she encountered at Trinity Place, a shelter program for LGBT street youth operated by the congregation.

According to many reports, the incidence of homelessness among LGBT youth is alarmingly high, indicating that LGBT youth are experiencing homelessness in disproportionate numbers.

Andrew Barnett, Executive Director of the Sexual Minority Youth Assistance League (SMYAL) based in Washington, D.C., also spoke at the fundraiser.

The event produced funds to provide $2,000 to Trinity Place and $400 to SMYAL. Attending the banquet was Bishop Richard Graham, representing the Metro DC Synod of the ELCA, and six members of the Pittsburgh Chapter of Lutherans Concerned. The Metro DC chapter also provides SMYAL with funds for a summer barbeque and considers youth a key priority in combating bias and oppression. A parallel concern in recent years has been education on transgender issues. Chapter support for anti-racism began several years ago and continues.

Let us raise a hearty Huzzah! for the Metro DC Chapter and the crucial services it is helping to fund.

Florida-Bahamas Synod Lets its Light Shine!

The Florida-Bahamas Synod provides a document on its website called “Resources for Becoming a Place of Welcome.” The purpose of the document is to provide a resource for congregations who are looking to become a more welcoming place for people of various races, ethnicities, abilities, etc. . . . Recently, the synod added a list of five Reconciling in Christ (RIC) congregations located in the synod. These congregations have adopted statements welcoming LGBT people and their families. Each congregation is linked to its “congregational profile” on the Lutherans Concerned website (lcna.org), which provides more specific information about the congregation, including contact info, worship style, etc…

LC/NA is proud of our RIC congregations in Florida. They are shining examples for the other congregations in the synod.

Let’s not hide our light under a bushel. If your synod doesn’t list and feature its RIC congregations, perhaps you might call your synod office and request that they do so.

And if your congregation is doing amazing ministry, let us know. We like to spread the good news!

Monday, November 9, 2009

First Resolved: Loving the Neighbor, Bearing One Another's Burdens

LC/NA announces a new initiative called "First Resolved: Loving the Neighbor, Bearing One Another's Burdens."

The title "First Resolved" refers to the first of the four "resolveds" of the policy recommendations considered by the 2009 ELCA Churchwide Assembly (CWA09). For many, the commitments made in the first resolved were the most important: to "love the neighbor" and "bear one another's burdens." The assembly voted overwhelmingly to adopt this resolved, agreeing to stay in relationship, to live together faithfully amidst our disagreements, and to work for reconciliation.

Something that you can do, where you are, that will help all of us and those near you: LC/NA calls on all members to commit to personally contacting at least two people with whom you have already some relationship.

The work of reconciliation is at the core of the mission of Lutherans Concerned/North America (LC/NA). In these months after the close of the assembly, there are some who are unsure about their involvement with the ELCA. In some cases, misunderstandings or hard feelings about the CWA09 decisions may be tempting some to disengage. In other cases, the CWA decisions present an "open door" for LGBT people and their families for the first time—even if it may seem like the door is still not open wide enough.

Making just two contacts is not difficult but will go far in reconciling. Please go here for a conversation guide and further helpful details on the "First Resolved" campaign.

Unlearning the things that used to be obvious.

Lowell O. Erdahl is bishop emeritus of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's St. Paul synod. Bishop Erdahl wrote a commentary for Minnesota Public Radio: "Unlearning the things that used to be obvious."

He writes: "I was wrong in my understanding of both homosexual humanity and the Bible. I now thank God for gay and lesbian Christians who have been my teachers. They have introduced me to a significant segment of humanity who, through no choice of their own, are attracted to, fall in love with and desire to live in lifelong partnership with persons of the same sex."

See the full article.

A Continuing Reformation

Don't believe those who say ELCA's new policy on LGBT people and their families isn't a big deal — it's a huge change for the better. In an article published in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, David R. Weiss writes:

"To those who say that the ELCA betrayed its own Lutheran heritage last August, I beg to differ. The heart of the Reformation is about grace and welcome offered as a free gift to people otherwise made anxious by social and religious forces. And this year, at long last, from the heart of the Reformation I'm saying to my gay and lesbian brothers and sisters, 'Welcome home.'"

See the complete article here.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Greetings, Lutherans and other friends!

Many have said it, and many have said it again: Isn’t it about time that Lutherans Concerned/North America (LC/NA) started a blog? Indeed, that time has come.

LC/NA will be posting in this space periodically with items of interest to the movement for full participation of people of all sexual orientations and gender identities in the life of the church. These items will include notes and updates from the LC/NA staff and board, reflections, personal stories, photos, videos, and other relevant news.

The blog is not intended to replace LC/NA’s Concord newsletter, all-member emails, or press releases. Rather, we see it as a great way to stay in touch on an informal and relatively frequent basis.

Please use the “Comments” function to respond to what you see posted here. To ensure basic standards of decorum and applicability, all comments will be reviewed by actual living people on the staff before getting posted to the blog.

If you are not yet acquainted with our mission and vision, please visit our website. And while you’re there, check out the Reconciling Lutherans program. Stand up and be counted!