Sunday, February 14, 2010

South Dakota Lutherans consider division

Lutherans in the Rapid City area are now confronted with a choice. The Argus Leader has an excellent article today on what's going on with Lutherans in South Dakota in the wake of the ELCA's decision to allow all ELCA pastors to serve God without having to pretend to be someone they are not:

Gay clergy vote splits South Dakota Lutheran churches
At least seven congregations take steps to leave ELCA

East Lake Andes Lutheran Church is an eclectic, spiritually self-reliant congregation.

The 100 or so members from the farms and ranches near Armour and Parkston come from a variety of Protestant and Roman Catholic backgrounds, in addition to Lutheranism.

"It just kind of blended together into a community-type rural church," said Bill Van Gerpen, co-pastor and a Baptist.

Well, not all the community, I guess (emphasis below mine):

So when the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America's general assembly voted in August to allow sexually active gay clergy in committed, monogamous relationships to serve as pastors, members of East Lake Andes who opposed the move explored the idea of leaving the ELCA. In the process, they've found that their own spiritual tradition runs deeper than their ties to the ELCA.

Their own spiritual tradition. It sounds so innocuous, so respectful. But I find it a resistance to accepting people as they are -- not a very Christian point of view. Why do I feel this way when some interpret Scripture as clearly speaking against the LGBT? This comment to the story is my answer:

Im from the Aberdeen area and am a lesbian i walked away from ORGANIZED churchs because of bigotry. I am a lutheran and was insulted DURING MY DADS FUNERAL because of my lifestyle. There was about 300 people there and the minister singled me out during the sermon. It took all my respect for my father and mother not to punch him into next week. Now that it is going on 4 years i still have no ambition to go back to a hypocritical and bigoted type situation.... I dont broadcast my sexuality by no means but we all bleed red.


  1. As a member of the ELCA, I think the good news here is that this is really a non-issue that the Argus and other media outlets are exploiting because there is a hint of conflict.

    I'm not saying that every member of the ELCA in South Dakota has no problem with the CWA's decision, but really, only 6-7 out of over 250 congregations are talking about leaving. Nationwide, fewer than 200 out of over 10,000 congregations have left over this issue. My Lutheran church openly rejoices over the CWA's decision, as do many others - but in the vast majority of ELCA churches, it's not a big deal.

  2. Thanks Anna.

    I emphasize that these congregations have every right to leave the ELCA, but I do think that it is tragic and sad that many Christians can't get past the issues of inclusion (women, lgbt, culture etc) that face the Church. And see inclusion as an opportunity that God is opening up instead of a nefarious force for the Church to fear and fight against.

    The basic reality is that the Church of 2010 needs to be different from the Church of 1960. The world has changed for the better. And not just cell phones and antibiotics -- it's frankly exciting that more of the human family is allowed to contribute now.

  3. Anonymous08:13

    great post