How Gay Is The ELCA?
By Rev. Jack Cascione


In an earlier release we sent out an overview of the ELCA Convention news releases and resolutions on the subject of homosexual and lesbian ELCA pastors titled, "ELCA Convention Focuses on Homosexual and Lesbian Clergy."

The following is one of the releases sent out by the ELCA on this subject. As you read it note the attempt to "out" gay ELCA staff for the sake of pushing the gay agenda. The ELCA continues to prove that "liberal" means being liberal with other people's money and the acceptance of homosexuality. This presumably is the ELCA's "Church Growth Strategy."

ELCA Assembly Discusses Homosexuality in Well-Attended Hearings

August 10, 2001


INDIANAPOLIS (ELCA) -- Hundreds of voting members and visitors came to talk and listen at two Aug. 9 hearings on "Homosexuality in the Church." Each 45-minute forum was moderated by ELCA Church Council member Ellen Maxon, Milwaukee. Only voting members had voice at the two hearings.

The churchwide assembly, the chief legislative authority of the ELCA, is meeting here Aug. 8-14 at the Indiana Convention Center. There are more than 2,000 people participating, including 1,040 ELCA voting members. The theme for the biennial assembly is "Making Christ Known: Sharing Faith in a New Century."

In one exchange, the Rev. Janet M. Corpus addressed the questions that had been raised in both hearings as to whether gay and lesbian people were actually part of the discussion. She then asked, "Are there gay and lesbian people listening? What percentage of staff and Conference of Bishops are gay and lesbian? Could you give that information?"

The Rev. Joseph Wagner, director of the ELCA Division for Ministry, responded, "No. I don't know that information. I can tell you we have had openly gay and lesbian people speak at our board and make presentations."

Susan Thompson, executive director for maturing congregations in the ELCA Division for Outreach, said, "One of the things I've learned is there is a debate about outing other people; about the value of outing other people. Perhaps that's not appropriate to do here."

Approximately 500-600 voting members and visitors attended one hearing, and nearly 400 attended a second hearing.

The Rev. Leslie F. Weber, associate director of the ELCA Division for Church in Society, and Thompson presented a time line of official ELCA church action and the work of advocates for change since the beginning of the ELCA. Maxon asked that only people with red tags speak on a two-minute time allotment, and that the hearing be "a place of respectful, safe and even holy sharing among God's people."

Some participants talked about frustration with years of conversation in the church, and little action. They told of attempts to have conversations in synods and congregations stifled; of the pain they felt of being obliged to deny ordination to seminary-prepared ministers because of the standards of the church. People shared concerns about blessing same-sex unions, about AIDS and about dividing the church. Several people spoke of sharing stories of family members who are gay or lesbian, and finding relief in being able to safely share those stories, while saying that they could never share the truth in home congregations.

Rosanna Abanonu, Saint Paul Area Synod, said, "The church is made up of believers in Christ and none of us here saw Christ but we believe and we base our belief from the Bible. Is there anything in the Bible that can help us who have negative feelings about homosexuals? The church should base all her decisions from the Bible, not from science or from medicine or from society. There is no way we can do it, and someone will not be happy."

Beth Margraf, Northwestern Ohio Synod, said, "For the 81-year-old woman in my church who had two sons who were gay, and are both dead, she says, It's nice that the church is talking about this, but it's too little too late for her. There's a sense of urgency."

The Rev. Daniel D. Baker, Southeastern Minnesota Synod, said "I think about the word 'blessing', and talking about relationships and the man shall cleave to his wife and they shall become one flesh. I see silence in Scripture about homosexual relationships. I struggle about homosexuality. I believe the Bible is clear: God wants to protect us from hurt and abuse, from the diseases that go with that promiscuity and our hearts breaking, as well. I encourage us to continue to examine what God wants us to do."

Bishop Stephen Bouman of the Metro New York Synod said: "Those that we baptize are never apart from us. We are afraid of the world and we don't have to be. The people who participated in this process were from Iowa and Minnesota and we want to be together as the church. There are so many things that split us apart. The child at the door might be yours and might be mine."

Wagner said, "We are approaching this by design very carefully. We are trying to listen very carefully to the different points of view around a church, trying to de-polarize the situation."

Further scheduled opportunities to discuss the issue during assembly include:

  • Discussion of memorials on same-gender relationships
  • Discussion of memorials to change policy or suspend enforcement of policy regarding ordination of gay and lesbian people.

Information about assembly actions is at on the ELCA's Web Site. Recorded updates during the assembly are available by calling 773/380-2477.

Rev. Jack Cascione is pastor of Redeemer Lutheran Church (LCMS - MI) in St. Clair Shores, Michigan. He has written numerous articles for Christian News and is the author of Reclaiming the Gospel in the LCMS: How to Keep Your Congregation Lutheran. He has also written a study on the Book of Revelation called In Search of the Biblical Order.
He can be reached by email at

September 1, 2001