What can we do today? Today we can help a woman named Vicki Pedersen, one of the 82 LBGT Lutherans who outed themselves. If you are or were you a Lutheran; if you are ecumenically minded, if you are committed to justice; and/or if your are a distributor of information, then please read the request below. And if you have a blog or an email list, please pass this along. It is my honor to introduce to you, Pastor Vicki Pedersen.
My name is Vicki Pedersen. I am one of the 82 LGBT persons who outed ourselves to the ELCA churchwide assembly as some of its LGBT pastors, seminarians, and lay ministers.
I write now to lift up a clarification about the numbers of pastors who have already been removed from ministry in the ELCA and its predecessor bodies. It is true that there have been 3 trials that led to the defrocking of pastors in loving, faithful same-gender relationships. But that is not all who have been excluded by our denomination. Hundreds more have found themselves removed or dropped, were pressured to resign, left closeted preferring to keep their orientation and reason for leaving private, were denied or have had postponed the final approval of them as candidates for ordination as pastors or commissioning as lay professionals in the ELCA, or who
were too discouraged to try to follow the call of God in them for ministy in the church because of the policy which excludes us when we would also have a
I am doing research to try to gain an accounting of all those who are now missing from rostered ministry in the ELCA. I have so far found 116 persons. There are hundreds more yet to find and account for. Please realize that the discrimination of LGBT pastors is widespread and longstanding.
From my research thus far, there are 57 pastors who were removed, resigned, or dropped from service in the ELCA and its predecessor bodies who gave 808 accumulative years to ministry before being defrocked.
The years already lost for ministry for the 57, plus the 50 persons who were denied entrance into rostered ministry in the church, adds to an estimated 1,100 years of ministry to what would have been an approximately 149 congregations. All these numbers could be greatly added to by all those not yet accounted for.
Pastors Schmeling, Merkel, and Sabin have been pillars in the movement for full inclusion of LGBT pastors in ministry, as have many others I can now name from the 116 and others known to me. The integrity and faithfulness all these have shown is remarkable in the midst of the pain and struggle they endured from being cast out by the church that had raised them up in faith and ordained them.
Yes the decision to stop this "bleeding" is a good sign. Hope and faith that one day our denomination will fully include partnered LGBT pastors has been strengthened by the decision to encourage bishops and synods to refrain from disciplining faithful pastors who are in "faithful committed same-gender relationsions." As Emily Eastwood said, there is a crack in the dam. Hopefully the baptismal waters of God's love and grace for all will soon flow freely.
Our church needs to be made aware of how it has maimed its own body of Christ by removing LGBT persons from its ministries. My research is continuing. If you are, or know someone who is, a person who is not in rostered ELCA ministry today because of the exclusionary policy of the church (didn't go to seminary, quit seminary, was denied rostering - lay or clergy, or was removed, resigned, or dropped) please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Names will be kept anonymous for those who want/need that.
Pastor Vicki Pedersen