And I happen to know a lot of gay Lutherans. My first boyfriend, Erik is a life-long Lutheran that I met in seminary. Erik was basically not able to go through ordination because he is gay and in a relationship which was the rule in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Same goes for my friend Brenda, who graduated seminary and has been waiting and waiting for the church to make up its mind.
And today, the ELCA finally did make up its mind and voted to allow gay men and lesbians in committed relationships to be clergy.
The vote leaves the decision up to individual churches and synods and gives room for those who don't agree.
This means that people like Erik and Brenda can now go through the process that leads to ordination. It also means that another friend of mine, Mary is now officially the pastor of the congregation she has served for six years in violation of the rules. (The synod had listed the church as officially "vacant," without a pastor.)
I am reminded of the hymn written by Marty Haugen called "All Are Welcome." Here is the first verse:
Let us build a house
where love can dwell
And all can safely live,
A place where
saints and children tell
How hearts learn to forgive.
Built of hopes and dreams and visions,
Rock of faith and vault of grace;
Here the love of Christ shall end divisions;
All are welcome, all are welcome,
All are welcome in this place.
Today, the ELCA lived up to that song. Amen!