Censure Lifted at Congregation Served by ELM Roster Member

We joyfully announce St. Paul Area Synod Bishop Peter Rogness has lifted the censure and admonition of St. Paul-Reformation Lutheran Church in St. Paul, MN. ELM roster member Pastor Anita Hill is senior pastor of the congregation. Sanctions had been placed on St. Paul Reformation Lutheran Church since 2001 after they extended a call to Pastor Anita Hill. Pr. Hill was ordained extraordinarily in 2001. In a letter to congregational co-presidents Anita Wheeler and Paul Chindvall formally removing the censure and admonition, Bp. Peter Rogness wrote:

“In lifting the sanctions in 2003, I observed that even in the aftermath of the imposition of censure and sanctions regarding participation, St. Paul-Reformation remained engaged and supportive of the life of this church. From that time until now, St. Paul-Reformation, its pastors and members, including Anita Hill, have been steadfast in their support of our life together as a church, and bold in their witness as Christ’s people in the world. Your disagreements with decisions of the church did not cause you to pull away; in this you have modeled for the whole church what it is to be united in Christ and Christ’s mission, not dependent on agreement on all things, but knowing how to embrace and affirm diversity in many ways. The whole church is stronger for your witness.”

Read more about Rev. Hill and her congregation’s commitment to justice for people of all sexualities and gender identities called to serve as ordained pastors here.

ELM pastor’s reaction to ELCA policy changes

The story below ran on the Lutheran (True) Confessions blog, April 17, 2010:

“ELM roster member Pr. Craig Minich, who serves congregations in the East Bay Lutheran Parish in Oakland and Alameda, California, was scheduled to preach on Sunday April 11Trinity Lutheran Church in Oakland. Pr. Craig is one of the 17 pastors who were ordained extra ordinem because ELCA policy required a promise of celibacy from LGBT clergy.

Shortly before the beginning of worship, Pr. Craig received a text message from the ELM attendees at the ELCA Church Council meeting in Chicago: the Church Council had just approved a rite for receiving onto the ELCA roster the ELM clergy who had been ordained extra ordinem. On Saturday the Church Council had approved changes in ministry policy to remove the celibacy requirement for LGBT clergy.

The worship service started, hymns were sung, the first two lessons were read, and Pr. Craig began to read the Gospel, John 20:19-31, the story of Thomas, the disciple who needs to see to believe, the story that is quoted in the rite of ordination: When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” (John 20:22-23)

Pr. Craig is a man of large emotions, and the Gospel lesson cast a new light on the news that been texted to his phone a few minutes before. He stopped reading, paused to compose himself, and then explained what the Church Council had done and his connection to it: I never thought I would see the day when I could be accepted on the ELCA roster.”

ELCA highlights the rite of reception for ELM pastors

A new press release from the ELCA ”ELCA Council Authorizes Rite, Receives Report on ‘Bound Conscience’ clarifies the rite of reception for ELM pastors.

” [The rite is] To be used by the ELCA’s 65 synod bishops in the next two years, the rite serves as a means of reception that embraces the ELCA’s desire for reconciliation with ELM pastors who are serving ELCA congregations and who wish to be recognized fully as ordained ministers in the denomination.

The council’s authorization of the rite is intended to receive 17 ELM pastors who were not previously on the ELCA clergy roster or on the roster of ordained ministers of a predecessor church body; who have been approved by a candidacy committee of a synod; and who have received a call in the church. The rite had been recommended by the ELCA Conference of Bishops.”

Read the full press release here

ELM Statement Regarding ELCA Council Votes

Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries (ELM) gives thanks that the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) is now living more fully into the inclusive vision that many have had for this church for so long.

The ELCA made historic advances toward being a more inclusive church when the Church Council formally adopted changes in ministry policies this weekend. The change in policy allows people in same-sex relationships to serve as pastors and rostered leaders in the ELCA.

The documents approved this weekend include a Rite of Reception for extraordinarily ordained pastors on the ELM roster, the ELCA Candidacy Manual, Vision & Expectations (used to establish expectations for rostered leaders), Definitions & Guidelines for Discipline (used for discipline of rostered leaders), and changes to the Board of Pensions policy to include same-sex partners and families. All votes passed overwhelmingly. Members of the ELM roster who wish to begin the process to join the roster of the ELCA may do so immediately.

Twenty years ago two ELCA congregations, St. Francis Lutheran Church and First United Lutheran Church, broke with ELCA policy to call an openly gay man, Jeff Johnson, and two openly lesbian women, Ruth Frost and Phyllis Zillhart. The actions of these congregations and pastors began a movement now known as Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries. Their vision has made it possible for dozens of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people to follow a call to ministry. It is a joyful time in the church as the ELCA opens wider its doors to the fullness of God’s creation.

We express gratitude for the congregations and individuals who have long supported gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender pastors during times when they were punished and alienated for doing so and for those who continued to follow a call to ministry despite incredible barriers. We give thanks for the Goodsoil Legislative Team, Lutherans Concerned/North America, the voting members of the ELCA Churchwide Assembly, staff, Church Council, Conference of Bishops and the leadership of Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson.

We give thanks to God and pray that one day all may find that the doors of the ELCA are open wide to them.