Nineteen years ago on a cold late October night Brett and I and a handful of gay Lutherans huddled in the living room of the Christ Lutheran parsonage in Cuyahoga Falls. Little did those present know how our lives would be transformed by this meeting. Lutherans Concerned became an integral part of our lives.
As our lives changed, so did Lutherans Concerned. Initially we were a place where people of faith came to worship and socialize. As society became more welcoming for GLBT people, the work of Lutherans Concerned turned toward advocacy in the Church. Sadly, the Church remained an unfriendly place for GLBT people. Many left rather than feel the coldness and isolation as a gay person in the Church.
Today, the ELCA Churchwide Assembly opened the doors fully to GLBT people. They recognized the validity of committed same sex relationships. They permitted partnered same sex pastors and candidates for ministry to be pastors within the Church. Finally, they directed the development of resources and ceremonies to implement these changes. What an amazing day!
During my work day, I checked the progress on my BlackBerry. I was fortunate to catch many of the votes on the live webcast. Tonight when I got home, I was able to watch the vote to allow partnered same sex clergy to serve the Church. It was a very emotional day for me. I have to admit I have been in tears of joy several times throughout the day. As a gay member of the ELCA, I prayed so hard as that countdown timer during the votes moved. I rejoiced in the outcomes.
Over the past two years I have been lost in the Church. My faith has been tested. I felt unwelcome in my church home. I looked to other faiths for answers. I questioned my work and the work of other allies over the past 19 years. I wondered if after 55 years it was time to part ways with the Lutherans and find a faith that welcomed me with no boundaries.
After listening to speakers at the assembly this week and witnessing the work of the Churchwide assembly delegates, I now know that my home remains within the ELCA. I can not begin to tell you how monumental theses votes were for me this week. I have high hope that I can restore my faith and find a place in the Church for myself knowing that ELCA doctrine and teachings will support my journey.