From San Francisco Two Joyous Events in One Day

Yesterday, following their Sunday worship service and fellowship meal that followed, the congregation of St. Francis Lutheran Church voted to begin the process of returning to the ELCA.

St. Francis had been dismissed from the ELCA in 1995 for have called Rev. Ruth Frost and Rev. Phyllis Zilhart, out lesbians in a committed relationship, as pastors.

Following the decisions of the 2009 Churchwide Assembly and subsequent actions by the ELCA Church Council that implemented the changed policy and removed the barriers to service by LGBT ministers in committed relationships, the Sierra Pacific Synod reached out to St. Francis, inquiring if St. Francis would like to return to the ELCA.

The vote Sunday was with a quorum present and passed with only 1 vote against. There was much jubilation. By this vote the congregation indicated that it wants to begin the process with the synod. Over the next months, the constitution of St. Francis will be brought into compliance with the Model Constitution for congregations, with those exceptions that pertain because they are a congregation of a predecessor body that merged to become part of the ELCA. The president of the council of St. Francis assured all the assembled that there would be "lavish communications" as the process runs.

The end of the process will occur at the Annual General Meeting of the congregation in January-February at which they will take a vote to complete the process by rejoining the ELCA or not.

And then, in the afternoon, at a wondrous service held in St. Mark's Lutheran Church, seven pastors on the Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries roster were received onto the roster of the ELCA: Rev. Paul Richard Brenner, Rev. Jeff Robert Johnson, Rev. Ross Donald Merkel, Rev. Craig Michael Minich, Rev. Dawn Marie Roginski, Rev. Megan Marie Rohrer and Rev. Sharon Sue Stalkfleet were received.

Bishop Mark Holmerud of the Sierra Pacific Synod presided. Also participating were Bishop Dean Nelson of the Southwest California Synod, Bishop David Brauer-Rieke of the Oregon Synod, Bishop Emeritus of Southwest California Synod Paul Egertson, Bishop Emeritus Stan Olson of Sierra Pacific Synod, and Bishop Marc Andrus of the Episcopal Diocese of California.

There were 675 people at the celebratory service, 275 more than the sanctuary holds, necessitating seating the overage in the fellowship hall with remote TV screens.

The service was one of healing and reconciliation, magnificent music, extraordinary preaching by Pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber of the House for All Sinners and Saints in Denver, one of remembering those who have gone before, and lifting up the ministry of the received pastors.

Look for more extensive coverage in the coming issue of the Concord.

It was a glorious Sunday in San Francisco...

Phil Soucy

No comments:

Post a Comment