Yet another confirmation of the joyous changes occurring in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) will be seen on Sunday, February 27, at 3:00 p.m. Pacific Time, as the Sierra Pacific Synod of the ELCA and St. Francis Lutheran Church hold a Festival of Reconciliation and Restoration with the Rite of Reception for St. Francis Lutheran Church. This service will celebrate the restoration of St. Francis as a congregation of the synod and of the ELCA. Bishop Mark Holmerud will preside. Following the service will be a Gala event starting at 6:00 p.m. to celebrate this historic occasion.
In 1990, St. Francis Lutheran took the courageous step of calling Ruth Frost and Phyllis Zillhart, a couple in a covenanted, same-gender relationship, as their new pastors. The congregation was put on trial by the ELCA and, on January 1, 1996, was removed from the roster of congregations of the synod and of the ELCA.
Another San Francisco congregation, First United Lutheran Church, was removed from the roster in that same year, for calling Jeff Johnson as its pastor. Rev. Johnson refused to comply with the policy that precluded partnered ministers from serving on the roster of the ELCA. First United is currently in a discernment process regarding its relationship with the synod.
Lutherans Concerned/North America (LC/NA) celebrates with the congregation of St. Francis Lutheran and with the Sierra Pacific Synod as we look forward together to a church that more fully recognizes and affirms Christ’s call to work for reconciliation. As stated on the congregation’s website,
“We believe that gay people are as much a part of the Body of Christ as anyone else. We believe that there is no reason why a gay person should be afraid to come to God, and that, as gay people, we are every bit as welcome in the presence of God as any other part of God’s wonderful creation.”
Throughout the time between its removal and the present, St. Francis faithfully proclaimed the Gospel, celebrating the diversity of God’s people as “part of our everyday journey with Christ.” While LC/NA recognizes that there is still much work to be done to achieve the full participation of LGBT people in the life of the church, we rejoice in the great progress that has been made.
Blessings to St. Francis Lutheran Church and to its continuing ministries.
If you would like to attend the Festival of Reconciliation and Restoration with the Rite of Reception, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.