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Synod removes congregation, hopes for a reconciliation

In the wake of a decision to remove Central City Lutheran Mission, San Bernardino, Calif., from the ELCA congregational roster, Pacifica Synod Bishop Murray Finck says he hopes there will eventually be "some reconciliation."

On Oct. 29 the synod removed CCLM — officially a "forming congregation" — from the roster and ended its call to David Kalke as its pastor/developer. It did so because CCLM called and installed as associate pastor Jennifer Mason, who is not on the ELCA roster.

CCLM wasn't an organized congregation and didn't have authority to issue a call, Finck says. Mason is a lesbian living in a committed relationship and is thereby unable to receive a call. The synod says the call "is out of compliance with the [ELCA's] constitutions, provisions and policies."

CCLM, formed by five area congregations in 1996 to serve the urban poor and homeless (April 2002, page 38), is still recognized as an ELCA social ministry organization, with Kalke as chief executive officer. Kalke remains on the clergy roster.

Fink says, "It has been a painful time for us all in the wake of these decisions," which followed seven months of deliberation with CCLM. "There's a lot of sadness in our synod, but there's been a lot of support," he says. "Many ... have indicated they stand behind the council's difficult decision."

Kalke says CCLM was surprised by the decision and also described overwhelming sadness among board and staff. "We will move forward," he says, promising continued service and pastoral leadership.


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