On July 26, Jay Wiesner became the third gay or lesbian person in a committed relationship to be ordained by an ELCA congregation in recent months.
Wiesner, 30, was already on the church staff at Bethany Lutheran Church in Minneapolis' Seward neighborhood. Now he will serve as associate pastor, though the ordination is not officially recognized by the ELCA, which ordains homosexuals but requires that they remain celibate.
After promising their commitment to the new pastor twice with a resounding "We will," the congregation broke into clamorous applause, hollering and foot stomping when the ordaining pastor proclaimed, "Amen. Thanks be to God," reported the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Wiesner was to be installed in August.
Steven Benson, a pastor of Bethany, said members gave the vote to call Wiesner much thought "and decided they had no choice."
"The most important thing is for a person to live with integrity and to live with honesty," said Benson, who was not sure what Craig Johnson, bishop of the Minneapolis Area Synod, would do.
Johnson could impose sanctions against Bethany — ranging from a reprimand to removal from the ELCA. In similar cases, some bishops have issued "censure and admonition" rulings, preventing a congregation from active participation in the wider church for a period of time.
On May 2, Hollywood [Calif.] Lutheran Church installed Dan Hooper as its pastor. Hooper hadn't been on the roster since his previous call ended 16 years ago. In San Bernardino, Calif., Jennifer Mason was installed as a pastor of Central City Lutheran Church.
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