A tornado touched down on the street outside the convention hall where Lutherans were debating whether you could be a biblical Christian and support LGBT couples and their families. Conservative bloggers saw the storm as a dire sign but they ignored the sun breaking through just as the assembly voted for the new Social Policy on Human Sexuality by precisely the 2/3 vote required . As 66.67 to 33.33 percent vote results were posted on the screen, voters and visitors gasped and then burst into applause.
The national meeting for the entire Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA) is held every two years—this year in Minneapolis, Minn., August 17-23. The new policy, which creates a theological framework allowing for disagreements within the ELCA over sexuality and scripture, replaces a previous statement that was 15 years old.
Lutherans Concerned, an LGBT affirming Lutheran group, sent a press release to 1800 religion writers and associates through the Religion News Service the week before the assembly, resulting in wide media coverage. Key votes throughout the week and GLAAD’s assistance with media strategies and pitching enhanced that effort. Private interviews with GLAAD trained spokespeople were set with the New York Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, Washington Post, Los Angles Times, and others. Related votes will happen on Thursday and Friday.
On Tuesday a devotional booklet, “One Table, Many Blessings,” was released with the names of 95 out LGBT ministers. On Wednesday, a PBS Religion & Ethics reporter interviewed five key LGBT faith leader (airing August 24). Immediately after the vote on the Social Policy on Human Sexuality, PBS filmed the procession of the LGBT coalition’s worship service attended by about 2,000 people. The videographer quipped, “This will be our stock footage of Lutherans worshipping for years to come!”
The ELCA is the second largest mainline Protestant church in the U.S. with 4.6 million members and now joins the Episcopal Church and the United Church of Christ as mainline denominations that have moved toward full inclusion in recent years. An increasing number clergy, laity and family members are going on record for equality.