Friday, June 24, 2011

My Journey as a Lesbian Pastor

Rev. Barbara Lundblad is featured on telling her story of her journey as a lesbian member of the clergy. Her story is also the story of the journey of the ELCA to its policy of permitting the service as ministers by LGBT people who are in committed, lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships.

Barbara, a teaching theologian at Union Theological Seminary in New York City, tells her story in the context of her marriage to her partner, Nicole Johnson, on June 18th, last Saturday.

The Odyssey piece is well worth a watch.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Call for prayers for Rev. Amy DeLong

Lutherans Concerned calls on all to pray for Rev. Amy DeLong, a minister of the United Methodist Church, who stands trial for being open about her committed relationship to her female partner of 15 years and for performing a holy union ceremony for a same-gender couple.

For more info, see also the blog of LC/NA's ecumenical partner, Reconciling Ministries Network.

Friday, June 17, 2011

More than 700 faith leaders in New York support marriage for same-gender couples

LC/NA applauds the 700+ faith leaders from New York state who have brought their faith to the public square to speak in favor of marriage for same-gender couples.

From the statement:

Our faith traditions teach us that all people are children of God, deserving of love, dignity and equal treatment, and we, the undersigned therefore believe that gay and lesbian New Yorkers in committed, loving relationships should be able to protect each other with the critical safety-net provided by civil marriage. The performing of marriage ceremonies is one of the most important facets of our work as ministers and rabbis. We take this work extremely seriously and are grateful to have “the power vested in us” by the State of New York as we bring couples together in marriage through our civil and religious laws.
See the full statement.
See the list of signatories, including the Rev. Robert Rimbo, bishop of the Metropolitan New York Synod (ELCA), as well as signatures of many ecumenical and full communion partners.

The reign of God is like . . .

These comments were prepared by Rev. Erik Christensen, pastor of St. Luke's Logan Square (Chicago), as introductory remarks for discussion of a memorial calling on the ELCA to commit itself to address bullying, harassment and violence at the 2011 Metro Chicago Synod Assembly, titled “The Reign of God is Like…”

A copy of the original version of the Resolution can be found here.

Reverend Chair,

My name is Erik Christensen. I am the pastor of St. Luke’s Lutheran Church of Logan Square, and this is my first time addressing this assembly.

Trusting that we, as a church, stand against every form of bullying, harassment and violence; and knowing that this assembly will hear from educators and others who have witnessed and worked with those who bully and those who are bullied, let me simply offer this as a starting point:

The reign of God is like this: a child

some mother’s precious first-born who made her soul sing

some father’s beloved with whom he was well-pleased

a child who was born during a census

whose family fled from political torture

and were immigrants in a foreign land

who spoke a language other than the dominant culture’s

who had an accent

who was a religious minority

who grew up working with his hands and didn’t have much,

who hung around with a lot of men

and a lot of women

and behaved in ways people said were “gender-inappropriate”

who didn’t look like the officers of the law, the peace-keepers of the Empire

who was friends with all the wrong, unpopular people.

This child was called wonderful.

Counselor. Mighty God. Everlasting head-of-household. Prince of Peace.

This child was mocked, was beaten up, was publicly humiliated and, ultimately, was bullied to death.

This child God raised up from the dead as a sign that God stands with,

and God dwells within,

every bullied person.

And, when we were baptized, we were brought into solidarity with every bullied body, each one a child of God, beloved, a pleasure in the heart of the Maker.

Sisters and brothers, as we discern how best to stand with, to serve and protect, all who are targets of bullying, harassment and violence, remember your baptism.

I urge the adoption of this resolution.

Our Savior's Lutheran Church

Just a quick update. On May 29th, the members of Our Savior's Lutheran Church, Lafayette CA passed an affirmation of welcome making them one of our newest Reconciling in Christ settings.

If you scan their website, you'll see that Our Savior's runs and supports a number of wonderful ministries and activities. They support the Lutheran Volunteers in their community, participate in community supported agriculture as well as food relief and emergency shelter programs, and support non-profit work in Uganda, Tanzania and Guatemala.

Congratulations, Our Savior's! Please join us in welcoming them, supporting them in your prayers, and visiting in person if you have the chance. Otherwise, there's always Facebook.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Sing the Song

We recently received a donation from the Sanctuary Choir of St. Stephen's Lutheran Church in Monona, WI in honor of the work done by their member, Dennis Douglas. They've graciously agreed to share their letter with you all. Thank you, Dennis and members of St. Stephen's, for your work and your story. God's blessings go with you as you start a new chapter of your lives!


Dennis served as Director of Music Ministries at St. Stephen's for the past ten years. Prior to that, he had grown up and been confirmed in this congregation. He began accompanying worship on the organ in high school, and some thirty years later it became his job and his calling.

In addition to leading congregational singing with dedicated clarity, Dennis has a special gift for involving the gifts of others, whether it be a musician with an advanced degree or somebody who had played once upon a time in middle school. This philosophy, and the underlying "Soli Deo Gloria," embody a vision of many gifts, one faith. In broader synodical work, as well, Dennis sought to make the worship of our faith invitational, accessible, and meaningful for all.

Along with Mike, his partner of thirty years, Dennis was a well-loved "out" member of this congregation, which helped move us with ease to becoming an RIC congregation. It was for Dennis hat the congregation worked to memorialize the synod, then churchwide assembly, reaching toward the Board of Pensions for more just and inclusive policies. Dennis was also a founding member of our local Lutherans Concerned chapter and served as treasurer.


Along with the letter, Pastor Utphall included the text of a hymn he wrote for Dennis' farewell Sunday, held just before he and Mike moved to Florida.


"Sing the Song"
written for Dennis Douglas

Sing the song of love
that we share in our talents ev'ry day.
God made us to be musicians,
all the young, old, straight and gay.
Sounds of pipes and bells and trumpets
drive the dark of hate away.

Sing the song of peace,
God's children, that can heal the world's deep pains,
breaking down the walls between us,
off oppression's chains.
No more let our hearts be troubled;
Christ will lead us on the way.

Sing the song of life eternal,
glory in the risen Lord.
Holy! Holy! All saints' praises echo
with heav'n's highest chords.
Join the voice of all creation:
Alleluia evermore!

to the tune of Regent Square by Henry T. Smart, 1813-1879.
Text: Utphall, c2011

Thursday, June 9, 2011

ELCA Syndod Asembly Update - Week 5

We are at the end of the fifth week of ELCA synod assemblies. The results are shown below for resolutions/memorials we are following. We will continue to provide updated information as the ELCA synod assembly season continues.

For earlier assembly activity, see our previous blog post.

ELCA Synods Passing anti-bullying resolutions/memorials
(cumulative through June 9)

Assemblies held to date: 53 out of 65
Anti-bullying resolution/memorial passed: 33
Anti-bullying resolution/memorial defeated: 0

Eastern Washington-Idaho – 1D
Oregon – 1E
Montana – 1F
Central States – 4B
Metro Chicago – 5A
Central/Southern Illinois – 5C
Northeastern Iowa – 5F
New Jersey – 7A
New England – 7B
Upstate New York – 7D
Allegheny – 8C
North Carolina – 9B
Saint Paul Area – 3H
Texas-Louisiana-Gulf Coast – 4F
Southeastern Iowa – 5D
Southern Ohio – 6F
South Carolina – 9C
Northwest Washington – 1B
Rocky Mountain – 2E
Eastern North Dakota -3B
Northwest Minnesota – 3D
South-Central Synod of Wisconsin – 5K
Northern Great Lakes Synod – 5G
Metro New York – 7C
Minneapolis Area – 3G
Southeastern Minnesota – 3I
Southeastern Pennsylvania – 7F
Metro DC – 8G
Florida-Bahamas – 9E
Alaska – 1A
Northeastern Minnesota – 3E
Arkansas- Oklahoma – 4C
North Texas-North Louisiana – 4D

Other Synod Legislative Assembly Actions of Interest
(Report covers week 5 only. For earlier assembly activity, see previous blog post.)

Montana – 1F
Memorial to Rescind Actions on Ministry Policies - failed (estimated 95% against).
Memorial to Revise “Human Sexuality” Social Statement failed with a voice vote (estimated 95% against)
Memorial to Require Congregational Ratification failed (75% against).

Western North Dakota – 3A
“Restoring Pre-2009 Churchwide Assembly Policies,” assembly voted not to consider.

Nebraska – 4A
Reconsider, Repeal Social Statement on Sexuality failed.
Encourage churchwide to focus more on developing study materials on social issues and less on development on social statements, passed 287-254.

Western Iowa – 5E
Suspend further implementation of new ministry policy failed to be brought to floor (needed 2/3 in order to be considered by assembly).
Congregational Ratification failed 86-91.

E/C Synod of Wisconsin – 5I
Defeated by overwhelming majority (estimated 95%): a memorial 1) urging candidacy committees to discourage candidates who are in a publicly accountable same-gender relationship from seeking candidacy in the synod, 2) urging the synod council not to offer [synodically authorized] calls of such ministers, and 3) encouraging congregations not to offer calls.

Rescind the 2009 Ministry Policies defeated by overwhelming majority (estimated 95%).

Virginia – 9A
“Welcome Traditional Lutherans,” amended to welcome all Lutherans, passed.

North Carolina – 9B
Rescind 2009 Ministry Policies failed.

Southeastern Synod – 9D
"Rescind the Decision of the 2009 ELCA Churchwide Assembly Adopting the Social Statement Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust and return to pre-2009 Vision and Expectations," failed by estimated 2/3.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Messiah Lutheran Church is RIC!

It is my pleasure and privilege to introduce the newest Reconciling in Christ congregation: Messiah Lutheran Church of Rochester, NY.

Founded in the late 1950's, Messiah serves the community with a variety of outreach ministries, from an Elder Christian Home Outreach to making prayer shawls, one on one Christian care through a Stephen ministry to food shelves, to participating in both Habitat for Humanity and the Rochester Area Interfaith Hospitality Network. They also have an extensive music program with choirs, bells and a praise band.

We're thrilled to have the members of Messiah Lutheran Church affirm people of all sexual orientations and gender identities as children of God and full members of the church. Please join us in supporting them with your prayers and messages of welcome.