Evangelical Lutheran Church Elects First Openly Gay Bishop

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has elected its first openly gay bishop, also its first Native American one.

The Reverend Dr. R. Guy Erwin was elected Friday as bishop of the Southwest California Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. He will serve a six-year term with the synod, which covers the greater Los Angeles area, reports GLAAD. He will be installed as bishop September 21.

Erwin has served churches for 20 years but was ordained as a pastor just two years ago, as he chose to wait for ordination until the ELCA adopted an inclusive policy regarding gay and lesbian ministers. It did that in 2009, approving the ordination of ministers in committed same-sex relationships.

Erwin is currently interim pastor of Faith Lutheran Church in Canoga Park as and is professor of religion and history at California Lutheran University.  A native of Oklahoma, he is an active member of the Osage Tribe. He and his partner, Rob Flynn, are members of St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church in North Hollywood. Erwin serves on the board of Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries, which supports LBGT pastors and their work, and he is a member of Proclaim, a professional association of LGBT Lutheran pastors, lay leaders, and seminarians.

“This is a great day for the Southwest California Synod and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America,” said Amalia Vagts, executive director of Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries, in a post on the group’s website, calling Erwin “a wonderful leader from the LGBTQ and Native American communities.”

Another gay minister, James Boline, was elected Southwest California Synod secretary.

via  Advocate.com.

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Golden Rule Dominates Minnesota’s Gay Marriage Debate

ST. PAUL — It’s a story 2,000 years old: People read the same words in the Bible, but come up with different conclusions.

Chaplain Mark Papke-Larson and Reverend Steve Schmidt of St, Bartholomew’s Church in Bemidji participate in a round table discuss on same sex couples marrying during a VOTE NO Rally as they listen to Marilyn Heltzer.

That is center to a debate about amending the Minnesota Constitution to define marriage as between a man and a woman. The bottom-line difference is about whether religious doctrine allows gays to marry.

To the Rev. Jeff Evans, there is no doubt the amendment follows God’s wishes. It is, he said, an issue “the Gospels are very, very clear on.”

Those who oppose the amendment, Evans said, are just following parts of the Bible with which they agree. “If you cut and paste … then you can come up with anything.”

The Rev. Grant Stevensen, who opposes the amendment, reads the Bible differently.

For Stevensen and others campaigning against the amendment, the Golden Rule says: “Treat other people as we would like to be treated.”

“I am concerned about the state of Minnesota drawing lines between people,” Stevensen added, something he sees as violating the Bible’s Golden Rule.

Involvement extensive

Evans and Stevenson coordinate religious activities for the two amendment campaigns, with what probably is the most extensive religious involvement of any state that has debated a marriage definition thus far.

The 30 states that have debated a constitutional amendment similar to the one Minnesotans will decide in the Nov. 6 election all passed it. However, amendment opponents say that in other states, faith communities that opposed the amendments did not have time to mount resistance like they are in Minnesota.

Most of the state’s conservative evangelical churches side with the Catholic Church, the state’s largest denomination, in favor of the amendment. Evans is pastor for the evangelical Christ Church Twin Cities in Minnetonka.

Amendment opponents include most of the second-largest denomination, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and Jewish synagogues that have taken stands on the issue. Stevensen is pastor at St. Matthew’s, an ELCA church in St. Paul.

– full report at  Grand Forks Herald 

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Lutherans for Full LGBT Participation

On July 8, TransLutherans was announced as a new affinity group in ReconcilingWorks: Lutherans for Full Participation at our assembly in Washington, D.C. Thanks to the board for approving the formation of this group at its 2012 spring meeting in Minneapolis. TransLutherans has been a long time in the making. A word or two about the history of this process is in order.

The board of LC/NA approved a resolution in the fall of 2002 to add transgender and bisexual to our vision and mission statements, and a task force was formed to integrate this work into the RIC program. In 2003 transgender and bisexual identities were to be included in all subsequent mission statements of congregations who were to become RIC. All congregations previously approved as RIC were asked to update their statements as well. Many chose to use the wording “all sexual orientations and gender identities.” Those gathered at the final business session of the 2010 biennial assembly of LC/NA in Minneapolis approved a resolution to

  • increase transgender and bisexual training opportunities for board, staff, and Regional Coordinators,
  • create a national speakers bureau qualified to provide education,
  • commit the Legislative team and trans/bi/queer communities to work together to create resolutions for synod and church wide assemblies.

These resolutions would expand the welcome of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) to specifically include trans*, bi and all people affected by binary gender oppression.

– full report at Huffington Post

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