Issue:  Vol. 47 / No. 50 / 14 December 2017
 

Gay supportive Castro Church votes to rejoin national Lutheran body

A Lutheran church in the city’s Castro district that spent 15 years in exile for opposing a ban against non-celibate LGBT pastors voted this weekend to rejoin the national church.

In 1990 St. Francis Lutheran Church, a congregation on Church Street, ordained a lesbian couple, Ruth Frost and Phyllis Zillhart, as associate pastors in defiance of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s ban on pastors in same-sex relationships. The national church in 1995 then removed the local parish from its roster as punishment.

Last year the ELCA reversed itself and ended the ban on non-celibate LGBT pastors. In April the Sierra-Pacific Synod, the regional organization of the ELCA for Northern California and Northern Nevada, invited St. FrancisĀ  back into the fold.

This past Sunday, July 25 the 129-member St. Francis congregation voted overwhelmingly to rejoin the national church.

“The process of healing from the pain of being removed from the ELCA will take time. However, we all rejoice that the church is now welcoming sexual minority people, and we embrace our future as a member of the larger church with faith and hope,” stated Congregation President Brandee Marckmann in a release following the vote.

The regional body also invited back another San Francisco congregation, First United Lutheran Church, that had also been removed after it ordained a gay man, Jeff Johnson, as an associated pastor the same day St. Francis installed the lesbian pastors. That church has yet to schedule a vote on whether to return to the ELCA.

The decision by St. Francis came just hours before a ceremony at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in San Francisco at which seven LGBT pastors, including Johnson, were welcomed back to the ELCA’s clergy roster as full-fledged reverends in the church.

At a special worship service tentatively scheduled for Sunday, November 7, the congregation of St. Francis will welcome Bishop Mark Holmerud of the Sierra-Pacific Synod and celebrate its reunion with the ELCA.

— Matthew S. Bajko, July 26, 2010 @ 1:01 pm PST
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