Sunday, 19 September 2010

Queer Ministry & Reconciliation

The principle of reconciliation is an important one in Christian and Catholic theology. For those denominations that are already starting to move beyond the historic automatic exclusion of lesbian, gay or trans Christians from full participation, there is a great need for formal procedures of reconciliation to help heal the pain, and to bring together in Christian unity those who may have previously been bitter adversaries in the struggle over major church decisions. The Catholic church, like others which are lagging behind, does not (yet) have this problem, but it will do when it is eventually forced to face the reality that its own members have moved way ahead of it.
For some insight into how one congregation that was directly affected by the earlier pain of struggle, read St Paul Rite of Reconciliation at "Spirit of a Liberal":
Ruth Frost, Anita Hill, and Phyllis Zillhart are three women well known in ELCA circles for their boundary breaking courage.  All three are lesbian clergy who bucked the system despite the certainty of official ELCA sanctions and personal opprobriation.   Here are snippets from a sermon delivered by Pastor Hill following one public act of civil disobedience against the former ELCA policies toward gay clergy:
There was disapproval raining down on our heads …  I heard the tension in the murmurs and groans of many voting members. … We risked our reputations, risked losing the respect of the church we’ve been nurtured in along with our families for generations.
Ruth and Phyllis are a lesbian couple who made national news in 1990 by accepting a joint call to the ministry as co-pastors of St Francis Lutheran Church of San Francisco.  In response, the ELCA kicked the congregation out of the denomination, and refused to recognize the ordinations of the two women.  This was the beginning of Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries (ELM); by the time of the ELCA Church Wide Assembly of 2009 (CWA09) when the voting members reversed the restrictive LGBTQ ministry policies, ELM had ordained thirty or so extraordinary persons extraordinarily.  Here is a video about the historic events of twenty years ago.
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