Lutheran congregation debates affiliation over gay pastors

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ROY -- Members of a Lutheran congregation in Roy are scheduled to meet Thursday to consider whether to remain with their national affiliation. Their decision follows a change in policy allowing the ordination of openly gay and lesbian pastors.

Since August of 2009, Lutherans in many congregations throughout the country have had similar meetings. In the last two days, KSL has spoken with two pastors and several church members who all agree that how one person treats another goes to the core of Christian belief.

The Lutherans of this church have what they call a weighty decision to make. In the past, their faith community permitted gay and lesbian ministers as long as they remained celibate. That has changed.

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Beginning Jan. 1, 1988, The American Lutheran Church, The Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches, and The Lutheran Church in America, with the shared beliefs and missions, officially formed the ELCA. -ELCA

Pastor Chuck Sabin said, "I really would hope that we can find moderate ground."

Last August, the Churchwide Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), the largest governing body with 5 million members, voted to ordain openly gay and lesbian pastors.

Since that decision, the second largest U.S. group, the Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ, has welcomed 135 new congregations.

Now, Lutherans in Roy are meeting with representatives of the second group, which has stuck with traditional Biblical teachings on marriage.

"One of the things I love about Lutheranism is that it says, in fact, we don't know it all," said Sabin. "But we are together to try to discover what truth is out there because there is more to be learned, and certainly in this conversation."

Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ
free in Christ
  • accountable to one another
  • rooted in the Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions
  • working together to fulfill Christ's Great Commission to go and make disciples of all nations.
  • LCMC

    Sabin says while some members of his congregation have decided one way and others another, most are interested in more discussion.

    Rick Widner, council member of Our Savior's Lutheran Church, said, "It's kind of an unsettling feeling that we have these friends and people we've been with for so many years, and we just see the issue on two totally different sides. It's kind of sad, and it's people we love and care about."

    Even if Our Savior's Lutheran Church in Roy remains with the larger ELCA, the members of that congregation could still request to have or not have a gay or lesbian pastor.


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    Carole Mikita


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