From the Worldwide Faith News archives

ELCA#s `Welcome# to Gay Members

Date 22 May 1996 09:28:44

News from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

May 22, 1996


The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is working on
ways to better communicate its #Welcome# to gay and
lesbian members and make that welcome more effective.
In 1995 the ELCA Churchwide Assembly acted to
#affirm... that gay and lesbian people, individuals created
by God, are welcome to participate fully in the life of
congregations.#  ELCA churchwide staff members and the
chair of the ELCA Conference of Bishops met May 6 with
four members of Lutherans Concerned in a #special
consultation.#  Lutherans Concerned is a national
organization #affirming God#s love for lesbian and gay
people,# according to program executive Robert Gibeling,
Atlanta.  They talked about how to make the stance of the
ELCA more widely known and how to help congregations
be more hospitable toward gay and lesbian people.
Conversation at the meeting included some #important#
story telling, according to the Rev. Karen L. Bloomquist,
director of studies in the ELCA#s Division for Church in
Society, illustrating why an affirmation of welcome is
needed.  One congregation has refused to accept two gay
men into membership.  A pastor of another congregation
was reported to have #outed# a lesbian member and
removed her from a leadership role.  Some new mission
congregations are occupied with getting their ministries off
the ground and would rather not deal with welcoming gay
members, the group was told.  Jean Huffey, a member of
Lutherans Concerned from Waterville, Iowa, told about
the rejection she experienced from her congregation when
she went public about her children#s homosexuality.
Participants agreed that communication and education are
crucial both to make congregations aware of the ELCA#s
mandate to express hospitality and to tell gay and lesbian
members and non-members that they are welcome.
Gibeling called the consultation #productive# and said it
created  #a positive atmosphere to build a relationship for
the future.#  The group discussed ways the ELCA and
Lutherans Concerned can work together and share
resources such as curricula, videotape programs and

[ELCA News and Information: 8765 W. Higgins Road,
Chicago, IL   60631; phone 312/380-2963]

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