From the Worldwide Faith News archives

San Francisco Lutheran Congregation to Celebrate First 'Feast of Hope'

Date Thu, 24 Dec 2009 14:11:13 -0600

Title: San Francisco Lutheran Congregation to Celebrate First 'Feast of Hope'

>December 24, 2009  

San Francisco Lutheran Congregation to Celebrate First 'Feast of Hope'

CHICAGO (ELCA) -- St. Francis Lutheran Church, San Francisco, will
celebrate its first "Feast of Hope" worship Dec. 27, in celebration of
the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) Churchwide Assembly
decision directing changes in ministry policies.

The Rev. Anita Hill, pastor of St. Paul-Reformation Church,
Minneapolis, will serve as guest preacher.

Since 1995 the congregation has held a "Feast of Expulsion" in late
December, commemorating the date when the congregation was expelled from
the ELCA, according to a news release from the congregation.

On Dec. 31, 1995 St. Francis was removed from the ELCA's roster of
congregations for calling ministers in same-gender relationships, a
violation of ELCA policy. 

The 2009 Churchwide Assembly directed changes to ELCA ministry
policies that created the possibility that people in publicly
accountable, lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships could serve
as ELCA associates in ministry, clergy, deaconesses and diaconal
ministers. The assembly also adopted a social statement on human

St. Francis members were among many others in the ELCA who worked for
years for changes in ELCA ministry policies.

The Rev. Robert M. Goldstein, who serves as lead pastor at St.
Francis, said the congregation council began discussions about changing
the emphasis for the congregation's annual observance.

"We weren't sure what to name it," he said in an interview. "Since
the congregation on the whole is very hopeful, and we're still in a
holding pattern until we see the details in the (ELCA) Church Council's
reformulation of polices, we thought 'hope' was the best and most
accurate name to give this."

When it meets in April 2010, the ELCA Church Council is expected to
consider revised policy documents implementing the actions of the 2009
Churchwide Assembly. The proposed policies will be reviewed by the ELCA
Conference of Bishops before any council action.

Goldstein said the congregation wants its event to be "forward-

"It's time to accent the future now, and not live in the past," he
said.  Most of the congregation's approximately 135 members will likely
attend Sunday's event, Goldstein said.

While members at St. Francis celebrate hope for the future, there
are some congregations in the ELCA that do not agree with the assembly's
decisions.  Many cite biblical authority as their reasons. David D.
Swartling, ELCA secretary, reported that as of Dec. 16, about 135 of the
ELCA's nearly 10,400 congregations have taken first votes since the
assembly to leave the denomination. Ninety-seven congregations achieved
the required two-thirds vote and are moving forward in the process; 38
failed to achieve two-thirds.

Goldstein said members of congregations who disagree "are my
brothers and sisters as we disagree over something that St. Francis'
brothers and sisters feel very strongly about." He said he and St.
Francis' members recognize others are in pain over the decisions, but
noted many at St. Francis have been in pain for years because of the
longstanding policies.

Goldstein added that he hopes one day there can be a "rite of
reconciliation" for St. Francis and the ELCA.


Information about St. Francis Lutheran Church is at on the Web.

For information contact:

John Brooks, Director (773) 380-2958 or

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