Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Gay Priest To Lead Lutheran Congregation In SF


A Lutheran church in San Francisco installed an openly gay priest as its lead pastor, setting itself up for a possible confrontation with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America.

With prayers and hymns, the Reverend Robert Goldstein took over as lead pastor of the Saint Francis Lutheran Church on Sunday.

The 61-year-old Goldstein says the Lutheran churches in the United States are polarized over whether openly gay and lesbian ministers who are sexually active should serve as pastors.

The denomination does ordain openly gay and lesbian clergy, but requires them to remain celibate.

Martin Luther ended celibacy as a requirement for priests when he founded the church in the 16th century.

"It's part of a struggle. Today it's also part of a celebration,” Goldstein told KCBS reporter Henry Mulak after the service.

The pastor expects that in the end, the entire denomination will follow the example being set by St. Francis, which holds that the national body’s double standard on celibacy violates one of the founding principals of the faith.

"This congregation's been a leader in that, and because it was a leader, it was removed from the roster of congregations of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America,” Goldstein said.

St. Francis was expelled from the denomination for ordaining a gay man and a lesbian in 1995.

Goldstein still a member of the that body and could face expulsion for serving in the San Francisco church.

“Serving this congregation is a way of bearing witness to the larger church that one of your pastors is here, serving this congregation with joy and faith and confidence,” Goldstein said.

Joe Rogers
(© MMVI, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.)

Robert Goldstein has posted comments to the story below about his installation. You may engage him there or if he posts here.

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