Saturday morning our synod GLBT task force presented a ½ day study day on gay clergy in the ELCA. It turned our very well. Our guest speaker was a Pastor from New Jersey who is celebrating his and his partner’s 25th anniversary. He also has held a variety of positions within his synod. He did an amazing presentation on his life and ministry. He has cultivated a common theme of success and growth throughout his career.
I think his story has attributes of stories of most of the GLBT clergy that I know. They are generally very focused on their ministries and work hard on issues surrounding injustice, poverty and the general good of their communities. As he talked about the different parishes he served as a pastor, it was very evident that he focused his energies on hospitality in a variety of ways to help these churches grow and fully live out active ministries in their communities.
Although not limited to GLBT clergy, hospitality appears to be the area in which gay clergy seem to excel. I guess the fact that GLBT pastors have first hand experiences with inhospitality within the Church is what makes them more aware of how important hospitality is to a healthy congregation.
We had a large percentage of clergy in attendance. Although there were many supporters, there were several looking for answers and looking to hear this story. My observation was that they became much more aware of the injustice to GLBT clergy as the result of our study day.
Here is a gay man who excels in his synod; is respected and looked up to in issues of hunger, poverty and justice in his state; is respected by his collegues and congregations he served; and is a loving partner in a monogamous same sex relationship. On the flip side, many Bishops in this Church would choose to end his ministry and dismiss him from this Church.
As the years go by and discussions continue, the Church tends to forget about the importance of hospitality. And… inhospitality was the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah, not homosexuality.