Monday, November 26, 2007

Katrina Blasts through da Bronx

Shrimp here. The Confusionists continue to feed their friends in the media, for in a month that we've already been exposed to the "ordination" of a pair of Jens by renegade ELCA congregations for whom having an out lesbian pastor who has (or hopes to have) a female life partner is a matter of the Gospel, the New York Times piles on with a puff piece on Katrina Foster, pastor at Fordham Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Bronx for the last 13 years. Shrimp understands that November is Sweeps Month, but thought that was for television, not the Newspaper of Record.

Katrina is a wonderful pastor, of course. While the Times seems to think it is remarkable that a Lutheran Church would be largely female, Shrimp will give Katrina credit for finding ways to bring Caribbean immigrants into her church of 100 members.

But, the Times tells us, a terrible specter looms over the parish and its pastor, for Bishop Bouman (who seems to think Katrina is the bees knees) is departing for a job in the ELCA hierarchy and there is the chance that he may be replaced by a Bishop who doesn't cast a blind eye towards female pastors shacking up with another woman who's made them a baby.

Yeah. Like the Metro New York Synod, whose orthodox pastors and congregations have pretty much checked out of attending Synod Assemblies, is going to elect a Bishop who'd discipline gay clergy even if the 2009 Churchwide Assembly directs Bishops to do so. Well, unlike most of those quoted in the Times (the Gray Lady ain't what she use to be!), Shrimp doesn't believe Katrina is really worried about "losing her collar."

Though we can always hope.

Anyway, hyperventilating used to help sell papers and it makes for exciting TV news. So, here's how the article starts:

Gay Pastor in the Bronx Could Lose Her Collar

In 1994, when the Rev. Katrina D. Foster became pastor of Fordham Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Bronx, she threw herself into ministering to her small, mostly Caribbean-born congregation. She not only preached to them on Sundays but lived in the neighborhood and showed up to support them in everything from surgeries to legal matters.

But Pastor Foster was keeping a secret from her congregation. She held onto it even after a woman came to live with her in the parsonage, then joined the church choir.

“Some people would say, ‘It’s so nice you have someone to live with you in that 11-room house,’ ” said Pastor Foster, 39.

But in 2002, when the woman, Pamela Kallimanis, became pregnant, they knew the time had come. So Pastor Foster sat her congregants down one by one and told them that she and Ms. Kallimanis were partners and were expecting a child.

Not one person openly criticized her, she said. Instead, “they threw us the most wonderfully outrageous baby shower in the side yard next to the church,” she said. “The woman I was most anxious about telling” — the church president — “I thought she was going to leap across the table and hug me.”

The response, however, was not all positive. A small number of families trickled away. Pastor Foster said only one member told her outright why she had stopped coming. “I got her on the phone one day and she said she couldn’t sit under a pastor who was a homosexual,” she said.

Now Pastor Foster and her roughly 100 congregants face a new challenge: the possibility that she, along with four other pastors in the New York area and 81 nationwide, could be defrocked in 2009 by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The country’s largest Lutheran denomination, it allows openly gay pastors but forbids them from being in same-sex relationships, according to the Rev. Stephen P. Bouman, bishop of the denomination’s New York-area synod.

In August, Pastor Foster was among the clerics who disclosed that they were in such relationships at the church’s biennial national assembly in Chicago, where church policy was decided. The assembly voted to urge synod leaders not to discipline those pastors until the issue of pastors in same-sex relationships could be voted on at the next meeting, in 2009.

Bishop Bouman said he would not have disciplined Pastor Foster anyway. “She is someone whose faith is genuine and she lives it in a very bold and inclusive way,” he said. “She’s not afraid to tell people that she loves God and that God loves them.” When Bishop Bouman leaves to take a national church position in Chicago in March, however, whoever succeeds him in New York may aim to defrock Pastor Foster before the 2009 assembly.

Another pastor in the synod, the Rev. Paul Hagen, of St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in the Bronx, isn’t supportive. He said that the “the Bible clearly defines homosexuality as a sin.”

He would not say whether he wanted Pastor Foster defrocked, but asked: “Can she honestly say she is a follower of Jesus? Does she teach what Jesus teaches or what she teaches?”

And a few members of Pastor Foster’s church say they still are struggling with the passage in the Bible that many consider a prohibition on homosexuality: “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.”

Pastor Foster has not preached directly about that passage. Charlotte Sapp, a church member who runs a local H.I.V. prevention and support group, said she was hoping for more guidance on the issue. “If it’s wrong concerning the Bible, show us this, why it’s wrong,” she said.

Pastor Foster said she felt that other passages were worthier of analysis, and that the one in question was one of many Old Testament passages that are no longer taken literally.

The Fordham church is uncommon for reasons other than its lesbian pastor. While the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is overwhelmingly white, the Fordham congregation is primarily black and Hispanic, reflecting changes in the neighborhood, which was a German enclave when the church began in 1915.

The congregation is also mostly female. Many members are nannies, home-care attendants or cleaners, and were raised in cultures strongly opposed to homosexuality. The Lutheran church has attracted many Caribbean natives with missionary work in the region.
Read it all, complete with nice photo, here.

Shrimp out.


cap'n bill said...

Some points are so important that even if they be obvious, they need reinforcement: Foster is playing victim in which the main victim is the truth. According to the story, she told her congregation that her collar was on the line in Chicago. Lie. She knows, as do all of us who are contesting this, that the ruling in that only synods can discipline. She knows that her bishop would not. She knows that the discipline committee would not. It was posing at the least, but I'll call it a lie becasue it is so disgusting to learn that her congregation did not know for all these years what every metro NY clergy knew for years, that she was in a same sex relationship and they were planning to have a baby by artificial insemination.

That Bouman is a sloppy theologian and traded the gospel for the new gospel of inclusion is another matter:

Shrimp said...

Gee, Cap'n, was I too subtle?

cap'n bill said...

Actually, Shrimp, you are doing fine. I just got the hurricane reference! Must be the shot I took to the head in that typhon off Frisco last year...

Anonymous said...

Hey Cap'n Bill, your engineering officer would like to have a word with you about the course of the ELCA. I think he is saying something like this:

"CAPTAIN! SHE CAN'T TAKE ANYMORE OF THIS!" From Chief Engineer Scotty.

Peace in the Lord!
Rob Buechler

The good ship ELCA...

The good ship ELCA...
Or the Shellfish blog...