Are there gay persons in your church?  Do you know who they are?  Do you know their stories?

There are 65 regional synods of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), 5 in Minnesota alone, including one each for Minneapolis and St Paul.  These two metro synods have formed a joint committee on inclusivity with a website and a booklet entitled Listen to Their Hope: Hear Their Faith.

It is with a spirit of hope and gratitude that the Inclusivity Committee offers this
booklet to all members and clergy of the ELCA. The stories presented in this booklet represent the journeys of LGBT folk, their parents, and non-gay persons, all members of the two Twin Cities synods that our committee serves. They represent a much larger collection of narratives that one can find in every congregation, many of which have never been told. We share these stories with you as evidence of what might be called “realized ecclesiology”, the future already happening through a God who draws us into the future — a God that invites us to pursue our hopes rather than our fears.

The 49 page booklet may be downloaded in PDF format from the website.  There is a foreword from Bishop Craig Johnson of the Minneapolis area synod and a preface by Bishop Peter Rogness of the St Paul area synod.  The booklet invites us to forget the politics of gay marriage and gay clergy for a moment and just listen to personal faith stories.

“It is always of utmost importance for us to hear the stories of the Baptized that live among us and have also suffered among us.”

(from Foreword by Bishop Craig Johnson, Minneapolis Area Synod, ELCA)

In this book, you will be immersed in this invitation to step back from the hysteria and the debate and meet some people. Hear their stories. Understand their journey. Listen to their hopes and struggles and values — and, in the midst of it all, hear their faith.

Throughout history the people of God have been at our finest when we, like Jesus, have been caring for the hurts of the world. We have been at our worst when we have mounted platforms of self-righteousness and made judgmental pronouncements that, ultimately, are best left to God and humble human reflection.”

(from Preface by Bishop Peter Rogness, Saint Paul Area Synod, ELCA)

There are ten stories in the booklet, and I will publish one a day for the next ten days. Sign up for an RSS feed if you want them to download automatically into your feed reader.