July 11 Update
On August 1st, a new law in Minnesota will allow for same gender marriages. The current policy at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church does not allow the blessing of same gender unions. But the question remains: at some point in the future, should pastors marry same gender couples? Before Jeff Marian, our Lead Pastor, left for sabbatical, he wanted the congregation to know that he had come to the conclusion that our congregation should be both welcoming and affirming and that pastors who choose to do so may bless these unions.
We had two open forums in May and have another forum scheduled on July 28 from 11 – 12:30 in the Community Room whereby folks could hear Pastor Jeff’s position (stated by Pastor Paul Gauche) and talk about their own beliefs and concerns, as well as how we can live together as we discern such a change.
While the law goes into effect August 1, Prince of Peace’s Board of Directors has not set a date as to when they might come to a conclusion around this issue so nothing changes for us at this time. We expect to hold another forum early in the fall and we will continue to ask for your prayers and input. The important thing is this: How do we respect others’ opinions and not come out of this or any future controversial issue without winners and losers? So, be present, be informed, but foremost, be graceful – as that truly is the hallmark of being a Lutheran.
June 5 Update
On May 28 and May 30, Prince of Peace Staff and Board hosted Respectful Conversations on becoming a welcoming and affirming church. Approximately 240 people attended the events. Pastor Jeff Marian opened the gathering with a narrative of his journey regarding homosexuality and faith. The participants then gathered for discussion around these same issues. The sessions wrapped up with a Q & A with Jeff and the Board. Jeff’s position statement is posted below, as is the ELCA sponsored studies in 2009 exploring biblical research on homosexuality.
We are deeply grateful to all who participated in what were truly thoughtful and personal conversations. We also thank those who continue to send in thoughts regarding Prince of Peace Lutheran Church becoming both a welcoming and affirming church. The Board will continue to study and discern Jeff’s position as well as plans for another listening session to be scheduled this summer.
Pastor Jeff’s Recommendation
While it is Pastor Jeff’s responsibility, as the spiritual leader of our congregation, to make recommendations of this kind, it is the responsibility of the Board of Directors to set policy at Prince of Peace. And so, the Board will continue to wrestle with this policy issue, and has been discussing this for some time. If/when Prince of Peace becomes both Welcoming and Affirming, clergy will work at the discretion of their conscience, as will all staff. The new law effective August 1, does not affect our policy per se as marriage continues to be a legal/state issue while blessings in a church continue to be a religious issue.
In an on-going effort to provide helpful and informative resources regarding same sex issues, we want to provide the following links to help your continued study and thoughtful conversations.
ELCA Sexuality Study (.pdf) | Discussion Guide (.pdf)
Please reach out to the Board (Email) if you have questions. Last, but never least, please continue to pray for wisdom, clarity and discernment as the process continues.