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My view

that appeared in the first issue of The Lutheran, Jan. 6, 1988.

As a white male pastor of an ELCA congregation, I would like to express my outrage at the comments of (then) Bishop Stanley Olson (The Lutheran Standard, Nov. 6, 1987; The Lutheran, November 1987). By my rough count, 84 of the top ELCA executives are white males, two are women and two are persons of color or language other than English. These numbers may indi- cate discrimination, but certainly not

against white males. The Rev. Dana K. Nissen Chicago (now Minneapolis)

I am disappointed with The Lutheran’s (masthead) design. The Gothic type- face creates an archaic and Germanic ambiance that is totally out of keeping with the newness we have been trying to express through the “new” church. What the new magazine needs is not a “bow to tradition,” as Jack Lund (the designer) described it in his rationale for the new (masthead), but a seri- ous and substantial dialogue between that tradition and the contemporary world in the contents of the maga- zine. Romanticism about a boyhood in Iowa in a church two mergers back is no rationale at all for this unfortunate choice.

Gary Pence Berkeley, Calif.

Send “Letters” to: Letters to the Editor, The Lutheran, 8765 W. Higgins Rd., Chicago, IL 60631-4183; fax: 773-380- 2409; email Please include your name, city and state. Your letter will be considered for publication unless you state otherwise. The Lutheran publishes letters representa- tive of those received on a given subject. Be brief and limit your letter to a single topic. Letters may be edited for space and clarity. Letters must be signed, but a re- quest for anonymity will be honored if the subject matter is personally sensitive.

“My view” submis- sions should be 400 words on a societal event or issue or on issues in the life of the ELCA. All submis- sions are subject to editing. Send to: “My view, ” The Lutheran, 8765 W. Higgins Rd., Chicago, IL 60631; email: lutheran@; fax: 773-380-2409.

Vagts is director of Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries, based in Chicago. She is a member of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, Decorah, Iowa.


By Amalia Vagts Change brings new life

to entirety of ELCA Working to impact church, society

attended my first Youth Gathering in 1988. It was also the first for the ELCA, although that didn’t mean much to me then. At 15, I was focused on the experience of being

with thousands of other Lutheran teens. I knew little about church politics. And I was just figuring out I was bisexual. But the fact that gay people were following a call to

ministry was very present for the ELCA. Months earlier, while I was baking caramel rolls to raise money for the gathering, Joel Workin, Jeff Johnson and Jim Lancaster were coming out to their candidacy committees. At first the outlook was positive—all three were certified for ordination by their respective denominations. Gay and lesbian pastors were already serving Lutheran congrega- tions—in the closet or with quiet support. But the increas- ing visibility of gay and lesbian people pressed the issue. In response, the ELCA required gay pastors to be celibate. Some followed the guidelines. Some stayed closeted. Doz- ens were ordained or credentialed “extraordinarily,” outside the ELCA process. Others lost their faith—or their lives. When the change at the 2009 Churchwide Assembly

did come it was too late for those who had died, left their call or the ELCA, or lost their faith. For me, too, it was slow in coming, but there were those for whom the deci- sion came suddenly and left them wondering if they had a place in the ELCA. In all this change, I see new life. A growing number of LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transexual and queer) pas- tors are finding (and seeking) calls. There are 130 vibrant and committed leaders in Proclaim, the group of openly LGBTQ Lutheran rostered leaders and seminarians. Con- gregations that never imagined calling a gay pastor have joyfully done so. Guy Erwin was recently elected a synod bishop, the first openly gay and first American Indian to fill that role. I find constancy in 2 Corinthians 4:5: “For we do not

proclaim ourselves; we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake.” These LGBTQ leaders are faithful servants, answer- ing a call to the gospel of Jesus Christ. They have shown powerful devotion to our Lutheran tradition and are a wit- ness to those who wonder if they belong here. Increas- ingly diverse voices proclaim the same truth I learned in San Antonio in 1988—rejoice in the Lord always—God’s promise of new life in Christ is for all. 

August 2013 49

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