Monday, July 30, 2007

Letter to her synod

In the past few months, our church has been involved in conversations and decisions that continue to reveal the differing viewpoints among us about the role of gay and lesbian persons in the ELCA. However, we still seek to live together faithfully despite our disagreements and to work prayerfully to discern God's will for our church.

We are called to obey the policies of the ELCA, yet we are also called to consider possibilities for change. Within this difficult tension, we are committed to respect one another's faith-bound beliefs while we disagree about policy related to the ways in which our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters are included in the life of our church.

Over the last few months, I have spent time in prayer and discernment that have led me to choose to be more openly supportive of gay and lesbian persons who seek fuller inclusion in the life of the ELCA. I have accepted an invitation from the worship planners of Lutherans Concerned/North America to preside at a Eucharist that will take place on Wednesday, August 8, 2007, during the Churchwide Assembly. To me, this liturgy represents the commitment to continue support for consideration of change in the policy of the ELCA in a way that depends not on political maneuvering but on the flow of gifts that comes to all of us in the body and blood of Jesus Christ.

When I sought ordination as a woman in the Lutheran Church, and encountered hateful resistance, I was profoundly appreciative of men who were allies and stood openly by my side with support and encouragement. I want to provide that same kind of support and encouragement for gay and lesbian people who are deeply faithful brothers and sisters already sharing their gifts among us.

The time may or may not be right in God's plan for change in our church, but I pray and continue to trust that there will be open and ongoing dialogue that moves us beyond our present stalemate. As together we depend on Word and Sacrament to be our center of faith and decision-making, I am certain that we will be drawn more and more deeply into the profound unity that we share in the New Covenant of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Bishop Margaret G. Payne
New England Synod of the ELCA

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