Saturday, February 10, 2007

When there is not inclusion, there is Injustice

My own church body, the ELCA (Lutheran) just defrocked a pastor for being in a committed loving relationship with a member of the same sex, in this case male.

This is a quote from his church's website about the trial and its results.

On August 8, 2006, Bishop Ronald Warren of the Southeastern Synod filed formal charges with the ELCA against Pastor Schmeling because of his committed relationship with Rev. Darin Easler. Currently, the ELCA has a policy that excludes gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons in relationships from the ordained ministry. The congregation stands in solidarity with Pastor Schmeling. The hearing began on January 19th and concluded around noon on Tuesday, January 23rd. The hearing committee remained to make their deliberations. On Wednesday, February 7th the committee's decision was communicated to Pastor Schmeling.

We invite you to continue to pray for St. John’s and the entire ELCA. We give thanks for the amazing support that has been offered to us during these days of trial. Pastor Schmeling also wants you to know how deeply moved he has been by the outpouring of love and support. He feels held in the power of the Holy Spirit and gives thanks for the opportunity to serve the church with people across this country.

Pastor Schmeling had informed both his congregation and his bishop before ordination that he was gay. At that time he was not in a relationship. Ironically, and with a cruel irony indeed, now that he is, he is defrocked.

Because my denomination has been so slow to move, they had no other choice - rule-followers that Lutherans are, there had been no new rules written. And so this man and his partner get to endure this outrageous decision.

God loves everyone. I saw a show on TV with a zealous preacher -- he was so affirming to everyone as he addressed the issue of inclusion. "Jesus," he said" did not come to change anything but your heart. He did not tell you to change anything but your heart -- and he wants you to turn toward Him, where you are ALL his children. So stop worrying about someone's penis or vagina, and focus on the heart. "

I am heartsick. Our churches are treating people like issues, or like doorstops. It is wrong. Just plain wrong. God must be weeping.

I was heartened to hear that Pastor Schmeling's church supports him. Their website gives an address to send funds

If you want to contribute to the defense of Pastor Schmeling, please give to the Pastor Schmeling defense fund, “The policy is the problem,” which is a fund at St. John’s designated for this purpose. You may mail checks to St John's Lutheran Church, 1410 Ponce de Leon Ave, Atlanta, GA 30307, noting the name of the fund in the memo line. Any funds remaining after the trial ends will be donated to Goodsoil,

In closing, I am moved by the way this congregation describes itself : "A congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) that invites freely, loves unconditionally, and serves with joy!"

May it be so for us all.


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