Laurie Goodstein, in The New York TImes reports on the warm welcome for Lutheran gay and lesbian pastors.
With a laying on of hands, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America on Sunday welcomed into its fold seven openly gay pastors who had until recently been barred from the church’s ministry.
“Today the church is speaking with a clear voice,” the Rev. Jeff R. Johnson, one of the seven gay pastors participating in the ceremony, said at a news conference just before it began. “All people are welcome here, all people are invited to help lead this church, and all people are loved unconditionally by God.”
The seven ministers welcomed at the ceremony on Sunday had already been ordained and have been serving at churches or outreach ministries in the San Francisco Bay Area, but they had not been officially recognized on the clergy roster.
“The effect of them being brought onto our roster is they will now be part of our national database of pastors who are available for service in any of our 10,500 churches,” said Bishop Mark W. Holmerud, who leads the Sierra Pacific Synod, which includes San Francisco. He noted that while some congregations were open to consider hiring openly gay ministers, others were not — and each congregation is free to choose.
The Evangelical Lutherans designed Sunday’s special “rite of reconciliation” to mark the formal inclusion of gay ministers who were ordained in “extraordinary rites” that were not recognized by the church but were conducted by a group called Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries. Three more gay pastors will be welcomed at ceremonies in September and October, two in the St. Paul-Minneapolis area and one in Chicago, Ms. Cooper said.