Soulforce Report August 13, 2003 from ELCA Churchwide Assembly in Milwaukee

Greetings from the ELCA Churchwide Assembly in Milwaukee!

August 13, 2003

The past three days have been busy and empowering.

The Lutheran Alliance for Full Participation develops daily flyers that we hand out each morning. Hundreds of Lutherans stop and thank us for our presence, look at our blown-up photos of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Lutherans who have been ostracized by the church.

We have given out hundreds of Soulforce crosses, and buttons, and rainbow sashes, that are our symbols for this direct action.

It is amazing to see hundreds of Lutherans walking in and out of the Churchwide Assembly with one of the several symbols of support for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Lutherans.

Remember, the reason we are here is to be a presence at the Assembly at the request of the Lutheran Alliance for Full Participation. It is thought that there may be an attempt to delay the final report of the study on homosexuality scheduled to be released in 2005. A delay will postpone the decision on ordaining non-celibate gays and lesbians into the full ministry of the church.

Here is a paragraph or two from today’s flyer:

"As you look at the pictures of the children, remember that each child pictured is now an LGBT adult who dearly claims the gift of God’s grace received through baptism. Some of these grown-up children and other adults pictured are fortunate enough to experience love of family and congregations that have received them unconditionally. Some LGBT persons, pictured or not, love and are loved through strong family bonds of joy of a committed relationship. Sadly, others have been discarded by their families and denounced by their Lutheran congregational homes. Some, but far too few, who have been rejected by their Lutheran families or congregations, have eventually found other spiritual homes where they are valued as persons of faith. All who have heard the call to ministry have been deemed unworthy to honor those calls if they choose to live in a committed relationship that is not kept ‘invisible’.

"As you study, discuss, and debate the memorials and resolutions that are brought before this Assembly, let us also invite the Spirit of our God to give us the courage to act boldly now. Avoidance and delay may appear to preserve the image of church unity, but unless we can honestly work through our conflicts trusting that we will be guided by the Spirit, our unity is but an idolatrous illusion that perpetuates the exile and pain of so many of our sisters and brother in Christ."

This is but a snippet of the flyer we have been handing out. It is a powerful witness, and the ELCA Assembly has allowed us to stand in the walkways from the Hyatt and the Hilton.

We have been welcomed, and embraced.

Tomorrow, we will be on the skywalks and street corner handing out tomorrow’s pamphlet, In the evening, we will hold our nonviolent direct action training.

We still don’t know what the Assembly will decide to do regarding the timeline of the Study on Homosexuality, but we are prepared. It is anticipated that the vote will be Friday afternoon.

Each day, more and more Soulforce people arrive, and more and more Lutherans join with us and thank us for our presence.

Keep us in your thoughts and/or prayers as we go into the weekend with expectations of positive outcomes.

And thank you for your support of the work that Soulforce continues to do to change hearts and minds and end spiritual violence committed by religious policies and teachings against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

Love and Peace,

Karen Weldin
Director of Operations

Laura Montgomery Rutt
Director of Communications