The Stone the Builders Rejected: We found ourselves in San Francisco on Sunday, September 16 and dropped in at St. Francis for worship. It was an auspicious day: at the end of the service, the congregation processed outdoors for the re-dedication of the church's cornerstone, the unveiling of its landmark plaque (St. Francis is San Francisco Historic Landmark No. 39), and the placement of a 100-year time capsule. (The original time capsule was opened on the 100th anniversary of the building.)
Retired pastor Jim DeLange had some difficulty being heard over the passing streetcars and the sirens of two fire trucks and an ambulance that pulled into the Safeway parking lot across the street.
The plaque reads:
Built by Danish Immigrants as Ansgar Danish Evangelical Lutheran Church, the cornerstone for this church was laid on September 17, 1905. The lower floor was occupied and the second floor sanctuary nearly finished when, on April 18, 1906, the earthquake and fire destroyed much of San Francisco. In the days following, the first floor and parsonage served as a feeding station and hospital. The completed church was dedicated on December 2, 1906.
In 1964, Ansgar congregation merged with the Finnish Lutheran congregation at 50 Belcher Street (founded 1899) and the two became St. Francis Lutheran Church.
And in 1995, St. Francis was expelled from the ELCA for its role in calling and ordaining Pr. Ruth Frost, Pr. Phyllis Zillhart, and Pr. Jeff Johnson.
Non-Discrimination: Introduced in April, 2007, the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) is making its way through the legislative process. It is currently in the House of Representatives as HR 2015, and will be introduced in the Senate later in September. The bill prohibits hiring, firing, promoting or paying employees based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Currently, only 19 states and the District of Columbia have laws against employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Employment rights for transgendered people are protected in only 11 states and the District of Columbia.
You can voice your support for this legislation by contacting your congresssional representatives and perhaps encourage the bishop of your synod to take a stand as well.
The ELCA might have endorsed this legislation, but you'd have a hard time finding that out.
In 2004, the ELCA Church Council approved Freed in Christ: Nondiscrimination in Business Activities, an issue paper on business practices that addresses some aspects of employment discrimination but is silent on discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
When the Church Council meets again November 9-11, perhaps it can consider updating the ELCA's 2004 Non-discrimination statement.
Seven Straight Nights: Seven Straight Nights (7SN) for Equal Rights is a nation-wide series of vigils for LGBT equality led by Allies during the week of October 7-13. Co-sponsored by Soulforce and Atticus Circle, Seven Straight Nights aims to raise media awareness of straight Allies who are passionate for LGBT rights - and to fashion a national network of out Allies, both longtime and new, who are willing to work in concert for equality. Visit the Seven Straight Nights web site to find a vigil near you or to host a vigil in your community.
Abstinence Bloopers?: Ever since The Lutheran put out a call for funeral bloopers, we have wondered if perhaps there might not also be a "lighter side" to the practice of abstinence among ELCA clergy, particularly in the Central Great Lakes Synod.
Is abstinence ever funny? Are there circumstances in which (to quote The Lutheran) "something goes terribly wrong and all we can do is laugh"?
Whether it's funny or not, if you have an "abstinence story" (75 words or fewer) that you'd like to share, send it to the Hotdish Hotline. Stories may be submitted anonymously.
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Pr. Sophie is all a-Twitter. Again.
Pr. Sophie's Tweets:
Hot Dish Hotline: "We cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard." What have you seen or heard that other people really need to know about? Use the Hot Dish Hotline to submit your item online.
Please don't send your abstinence story to The Lutheran, unless, of course, it took place during a funeral.
Free at Last? Whatever: The latest publication from the Task Force for ELCA Studies on Sexuality (TFSS) is an adaptation of the 2006 study Free in Christ to Care for the Neighbor that is addressed to senior high youth. The youth edition is considerably shorter (83 pages) than the 152-page original and is accompanied by a web site for sending responses to study questions back to the task force.
Our vote for best study question goes to: What do you wish your parents and church understood about your life?
Lutherans Really Are All Alike: Far, far below their apparently insurmountable ideological differences, Lutherans are united by a common view of how things work and what things are important. Last week's coverage of the Societatis, Trinitatis Sanctae inspired some of our friends at the newly forming Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries (ELM) (the organization that will succeed LLGM and ECP) to examine more closely the concept of a Lutheran Ministerium. Without much difficulty, they found the Augustana Ministerium, and were, well, fascinated: It sounds so much like ELM but for a very different reason.
Among the points of interest were articles in the Augustana Ministerium's FAQ titled
Is The Augustana Ministerium a 'Church'?
Is This a Political Action Group?
Will Membership in The Augustana Ministerium Cause Pastors of the LCMS or Other Bodies to Be Removed from Those Bodies?
and of course, a whitepaper titled Calling a Pastor: The Rights and Privileges of a Congregation.
Ask Pr. Sophie: Pr. Sophie Fortresson, our resident expert on all matters of theology, Lutheran etiquette, and social protocol, answers questions submitted by our readers and occasionally simply volunteers advice when no question has been asked. Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dear Pastor Sophie: I have a sartorial dilemma I trust you to address. I am a stylish gay pastor. Not excessively stylish, simply handsome and aware of my appearance. I find that the task of approaching my closet each morning bores me (as do closets in general). Will I wear the black clerics or the baby blue? Will I wear the tab collar or the full collar? As a pro-choice Lutheran, I find very little in my pastor's wardrobe to choose from.
I often see bishops wearing purple or scarlet clerics, and have spotted other pastors in grey or white. I've seen pastors in tie-dyed clerics. That's all well and good, but I find myself daydreaming of clerics in rich mahogany tones or a gentle Aspen blue. Are there theological or traditional reasons behind the pigmentation of our priestly garments, or are we simply being held captive by laws of supply and demand - in which case I'll gladly commission some specially made shirts!
Your insights are appreciated,
Baby Blue Priest
Dear Baby Blue Priest: My goodness, what a predicament. Pr. Sophie suspects that the severely restricted choices in clergy civic attire actually represent a "structure of domination" (cf. Lacan, L'envers) that is ultimately more sinister than either tradition or economics.
One need only compare the situation of clergy with that of health care workers to confirm that this is so. Nursing uniforms, once exclusively available in white, have blossomed into an extravangant array of colors. Indeed, the Dickies Sandwashed Two Pocket Mock Wrap Top is available in your beloved Aspen Blue, whereas clergy shirts in the color of the season are scarcer than hen's teeth. Among the professions, only football referees have fewer choices than clergy.
Pr. Sophie thinks you should throw off the chains of oppression and commission some nice shirts in colors that will make your heart sing.
Pr. Sophie notes in passing that you seem to be fond of tree-related colors (aspen, mahogany, etc.) and she recommends elm foliage in autumn for a truly spectacular effect.
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