Lutheran church changes policy on homosexuals
Largest Lutheran church in America allows non-celibate gay clergy members
Published: Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Updated: Monday, October 12, 2009 15:10
In a 619-402 vote at their biennial church-wide assembly in August, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America—the largest Lutheran denomination in the United States—voted to allow openly homosexual, non-celibate Lutherans in monogamous relationships to serve as clergy members.
Many leaders within the denomination who oppose the policy change say the controversial issue could cause a large split within the church.
The decision has caused disagreements with most of its Lutheran counterparts and other large Christian denominational churches, such as the United Methodist Church, with whom they hold an open communion agreement.
The United Methodist Church has voted within the last two years to uphold bans on openly homosexual clergy members.
Andrew Medina, an openly gay Metropolitan State College of Denver student, said that this decision is fantastic.
"It shows that the [Evangelical Lutheran Church of America] has acknowledged the most poignant message of Christ—love," said Medina. "And love doesn't have a sexual orientation."
Nadia Bolz-Weber, a Lutheran minister and founder of The House for All Sinners and Saints, a queer inclusive church, is a strong supporter of the measure.
She said that in response to her church's official stance on not forcing members to check a part of themselves at the door, the people within her community can exhale and fully stand behind their denomination.
While she strongly supports the measure, she has compassion for those of her denomination who believe their foundation of worship is being compromised, and that those who oppose the measure have the right to speak against it.
However, her enthusiasm is not shared by all in the Denver community.
Justin Petrochko, a graduate student at UC-Denver, said he was brought up in a conservative Christian family and has other feelings about the measure.
"I don't find someone who thinks they are a homosexual to be wrong—I find the practice of homosexuality to be something that is wrong," said Petrochko. "At the end of the day, I've got a great deal of compassion for that population."
He said that while this is a complex issue, there are issues that are black and white, and that many churches handle the issue of sin and homosexuality poorly—in a manner not in line with the loving nature of Jesus Christ.
"On the flip side, it's not okay for churches to accept it and ignore as if its a non-issue,"said Petrochko.
More information on the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is available at www.elca.org.
More information on the House for All Sinners and Saints is available at www.houseforall.org.