Pastor Susan was placed “on leave from call” by the ELCA when she accepted a call to First United Lutheran Church. First United was removed from the ELCA in 1995 following a trial of their decision to call openly gay Jeff Johnson as pastor. Because Pastor Susan was serving a non-ELCA congregation, her call previously was not recognized by the ELCA.
Pastor Susan Strouse is a native of Pottstown, PA (near Philadelphia) and is a graduate of Antioch University/Philadelphia (B.A. in Human Services) and the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Gettysburg (Master of Divinity) She previously served congregations in Buffalo, NY and Novato, CA.
St. Francis Lutheran Church, San Francisco, will celebrate its first “Feast of Hope” worship Dec. 27, in celebration of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) Churchwide Assembly decision directing changes in ministry policies.
ELM roster member The Rev. Anita Hill, pastor of St. Paul-Reformation Church, Minneapolis, will serve as guest preacher.
Since 1995 the congregation has held a “Feast of Expulsion” in late December, commemorating the date when the congregation was expelled from the ELCA, according to a news release from the congregation. But since the ELCA has changed it’s policy the congregation felt it was appropriate to change the emphasis for the congregations annual observance.
ELM roster member The Rev. Robert M. Goldstein, who serves as lead pastor at St. Francis, said the congregation council began discussions about changing the emphasis for the congregation’s annual observance.
“We weren’t sure what to name it,” he said in an interview. “Since the congregation on the whole is very hopeful, and we’re still in a holding pattern until we see the details in the (ELCA) Church Council’s reformulation of polices, we thought ‘hope’ was the best and most accurate name to give this.”
Emily Eastwood is featured this month on IN THE LIFE, the public television show documenting the lives and people shaping the gay experience. Their January episode, “Profiles in Leadership,” focuses on how religious leaders are paving the way for full LGBT inclusion to their congregations, threatening an establishment that would prefer policy come from the pulpit.
The lead segment, ‘A Call for Inclusion’ profiles two leaders in the faith communities leading the call for tolerance, inclusiveness and religious freedom. Emily Eastwood (pictured left), Executive Director of Lutherans Concerned/North America who has worked for policy change in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and Interfaith Alliance President, Rev. Dr. Welton Gaddy, who put his career on the line to write a paper calling for religious freedom and constitutional rights for all.
Profiles in Leadership will begin airing January 1st and be available for free video streaming and downloadable podcasts from the IN THE LIFE website on January 2nd. To find out when it will air in your local area, to stream or download it, go to http://www.inthelifetv.org/
This past Monday, seven members of the Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries roster met with members of the ELCA Churchwide staff. The meeting began with the seven roster members telling parts of their story to Bishop Mark Hanson. Each person took about 7-10 minutes to talk about their joy in ministry, the discrimination they have faced as a gay or lesbian pastor, and their hope for the Church. Bishop Hanson listened deeply to the stories and offered his affirmation of the gifts for ministry displayed by the group.
We then spent several more hours talking about how ELM pastors may be welcomed to the Roster of the ELCA. As we often say, ELM is about making ministry happen. Our work in that area continues, as we affirm and support the many gifted members of our roster. We believe that in baptism God calls all people to a vocation, and that the call to ordained ministry comes to people regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity as equal members of the human family. We will continue to offer ourselves as a resource to the ELCA as they develop new policies and procedures in light of the decisions made by the 2009 Churchwide Assembly.
The conversation on Monday was not a decision-making one. We will continue to keep you informed of developments as they happen.
Those attending the meeting included (from left to right in photo) Rev. Anita Hill; Rev. Ross Merkel; Rev. Cindy Coleman; Rev. Erik Christensen; Julie Boleyn; Rev. Jen Nagel; and Rev. Jeff Johnson. Also attending were ELM Executive Director Amalia Vagts; Lutherans Concerned/North America Executive Director Emily Eastwood; and Goodsoil Legislative Team Chair Rev. Chris Berry.
Many of you contacted us to share your prayers for the outcome of this and future meetings. We also gathered in a circle of prayer at the Lutheran Center just before going upstairs. We named in prayer many who have led this movement for years, many of your names, and names of future gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender leaders in this Church. Thank you for your continued support of our ministry.