Lutherans Concerned/North America joins Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, St. Paul, in celebrating the decision of the congregation to call Bradley Schmeling as Senior Pastor. The vote by the congregation was held on March 25, 2012, and is a landmark decision by this faithful church.
Pastor Bradley Schmeling, currently of St. John’s Lutheran Church in Atlanta, Georgia, will take up his duties as senior pastor of the St. Paul congregation in mid-June. Formal installation services will take place at a later date, which will be the subject of separate announcements.
Gloria Dei is a Reconciling in Christ congregation, having publically declared their welcome of all regardless of “age, race, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic or family status, or physical or mental abilities.”
Gloria Dei is now the largest Lutheran church with a senior pastor who is openly-gay and in a committed same-gender relationship. This 2300-member congregation is heavily involved in social justice work and was also in the past the first large congregation to have a female senior pastor.
Bradley Schmeling had been removed from the clergy roster of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) in 2007 following a famous ecclesiastical trial held after he informed his bishop that he was in a lifelong, committed relationship with Pastor Darin Easler. The jury found his ministry to be excellent and said that they believed the policy to be wrong that precluded his service solely on the basis of being in a committed same-gender relationship. Regardless, he was removed from the roster of clergy because of the prevailing discriminatory policy, but not from the pulpit of St. John’s, where he remained the pastor to the present.
In 2009, the Churchwide Assembly of the ELCA removed the policy barrier to service by ministers in committed same-gender relationships. Following that decision, Bradley Schmeling and Darin Easler applied to be and were restored to the clergy roster of the ELCA.
Emily Eastwood, Executive Director, Lutherans Concerned/North America, said, “Gloria Dei said that they were looking for a senior pastor who is ‘humble, compassionate, a gifted preacher, with a passion for social justice.’ Bradley Schmeling is all of that and more. Having worked on Bradley’s legal and PR teams during his trial, this moment stirs past painful memories, now overtaken in joyful knowledge that one, standing for many, who was rejected has not only been reclaimed but called anew. LC/NA is proud of its role in the progress that removed a discriminatory policy, as the church journeys towards full inclusion. We join Gloria Dei in celebrating their selection of this excellent pastor to minister to the congregation and lead their outreach ministries following the teachings of Christ.”