Today my church took their first vote to leave the ELCA - 66 to 12. My heart is breaking for this congregation. I firmly believe little of this had to do with the sexuality vote although that was the presenting issue. I think many of them are persuaded that the ELCA has been standing in the way of them going back to the good old days, when the Sunday School classrooms were full, the youth came to Luther League meetings whether they wanted to or not, and nobody had anything better to do on Sunday morning than to come to church. I'm used to being in dying congregations who avoid the real work of reaching out to others by convincing themselves all they need is another, better pastor. This congregation believes they need another denomination.
My heart is breaking for the dozen people who were there and the unknown number who were NOT there, who have not been there since leaving the ELCA became a rallying cry---who know and love gay people, who are not comfortable with the tone of arguments to leave the ELCA, who don't want a gay pastors but know that leaving the ELCA is not the answer but who don't want to fight, don't want to stand up against the majority, who felt it wouldn't make a difference if they said anything anyway, or who did try to present a different viewpoint and felt shut down and now feel their church has left them and don't know where they are going to go.
And there's me. I don't know what is going to happen to me. I don't know if I will, but I doubt that I find a call before a) they officially leave the ELCA b) they realize 66 people cannot sustain a full-time pastor (especially one who did not support their decision). I have no parents to go home to. I have no spouse to support me. I have a lot of debt. I have children still dependent upon me. But people called by God have faced far worse hardships than I have.
"Have no fear, little flock. For the Father's pleasure is to give you the kingdom" I believe that. I have faith. Now I am called upon to live as though I had faith. One thing I do know is that I have preached the Gospel faithfully and truly and that is what I will continue to do.
In the big picture, I'm not all that important.
And now I'm going to do something I've never done on this blog. I'm only allowing certain comments. I don't want to hear about how painful the Assembly vote was for you because you disagree with it. You have lots of avenues to discuss your pain. This is MY blog. This for people who have not felt listened to by people wanting to leave the ELCA. This is for those whose congregations have left when they did not want to leave. This is for people tired of being told they are not "for the bible" because they have a different interpretation or are just willing to live with others who interpret the bible differently. I've had enough fighting and harping. I won't have it on my blog. Not today.