SAN FRANCISCO — Seven pastors who work in the San
Francisco Bay area and were barred from serving in the nation's largest
Lutheran group because of a policy that required gay clergy to be
celibate are being welcomed into the denomination.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America will add six
of the pastors to its clergy roster at a service at St. Mark's Lutheran
Church in San Francisco on Sunday. Another pastor who was expelled from
the church, but was later reinstated, will participate in the service.
The group is among the first gay, bisexual or transgender
Lutheran pastors to be reinstated or added to the rolls of the ELCA
since the organization voted last year to lift the policy requiring
Churches can now hire noncelibate gay clergy who are in
"It's going to be an extremely glorious and festive
ceremony because it's the culmination of decades of work to welcome LGBT
people into the ELCA," said Amalia Vagts, executive director of the
Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries, a nonprofit that credentials openly
gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people for ministry.
Megan Rohrer, one of the pastors who will participate in
Sunday's rite of reception service, grew up in South Dakota and attended
a Lutheran college where she said students tried to exorcise her "gay
demons" by throwing holy water on her. Some of those people are now
Lutheran pastors in South Dakota, she said.
Rohrer, who is transgender and a lesbian, was ordained by
four congregations in San Francisco in 2006, but could not join the ELCA
roster until the denomination's national assembly approved the new
policy in August.
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