Today, almost everything we hoped for, worked for, and wept for came to pass. The ELCA resolved to "bear one another's burdens and respect one another's bound consciences," to allow for blessing of same-sex unions, to make space for partnered GLBT folks on the leadership roster, and to agree to move forward together in good faith, though we do not all agree about any of this.
I'm overwhelmed. This will have very real consequences for me, my congregation, and so, so many people I care about.
I'm proud of my church. It was an impassioned debate, but conducted with general grace, space for opposing opinions, and a great deal of prayer.
It will be deeply sad to me if the people who voted in the other direction, and who are feeling sad/angry/shocked by this vote choose to leave the ELCA. This issue will never really get better until we sit side-by-side in the pews together for a long time, in an open and honest atmosphere. I heard one vociferous local pastor today suggest that the church has strayed from "obvious Scriptural teaching" (?!) and "capitulated to the popular culture" by choosing to make this circle a bit bigger.
I think that he's wrong.
I think that the Church has taken a brave step deeper into Scriptural teaching this week.
I think that the real capitulation to popular culture would be to act as if there is only one "correct" point of view, and to claim that the "losers" need to sit on the bench until their "turn" comes up again, while the "winners" get the mandate. That's not how a real community acts.
I think, as one bishop so eloquently prayed at the end of the last plenary today, that God has called us servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending,
by paths as yet untrodden,
through perils unknown.
I think that God will give us the strength to go out with good courage,
not knowing where we go,
but only that God's hand is leading us
and God's love supporting us.
And I think that this pastor with whom I disagree so vehemently must remain my brother in Christ. I hope with all the power of my heart that he and all who are upset by today will hang in with the ELCA. GLBT folks have done so for decades, and have borne a patient and loving witness to the church from outside its structures. I hope that we may do as well from inside the building, and remember to go the extra mile to welcome the stranger, whoever that may be.
As the incandescent Barbara Lundblad reminded us earlier this week, we are many parts, but one Body. Amen and amen.