On Saturday afternoon, a multitude of gays and their straight allies recessed the LCNA biennial convention on the campus of Augsburg college in Minneapolis to return to the venues that were so historic last summer at CWA09.
First, along with hundreds of others from around the twin cities and farther (I bumped into my Wisconsin Methodist friends from Kairos CoMotion), the convention goers temporarily adjourned for a stunning, high church gathering around the table of bread and wine. The Eucharistic celebration at Central Lutheran Church was reminiscent of the Goodsoil service at Central following the passage of the sexuality statement by the ELCA church wide assembly last August.
But there was a striking difference also. The presiding minister was the Rev Sherman Hicks, and the preaching minister was the Rev Stephen Bouman. Both men hold high office (Executive Directors of ELCA mission and ministries) within the ELCA churchwide leadership structure. That this was truly a Kairos moment, as LCNA executive director Emily Eastwood often stated, was symbolized by the presence of these two ELCA leaders. The symbolism was first evident an hour earlier at the press conference where the three speakers who sat together to answer questions were Eastwood, Ross Murray, LCNA deputy director, and Rev Bouman–the LCNA and the ELCA together at the same table.
Of course, Pastor Bouman’s ringing sermon offered words of celebration and even an apology for previously having been “part of the problem”, but Bouman also sounded a theme heard throughout the LCNA convention—now that the LGBT community has moved toward the inclusive center of the ELCA, their sense of justice and skills at advocacy ought to be used to promote the cause of those still on the margins, especially the stranger in a strange land.
With church bells pealing, the entire congregation marched across the street to the Minneapolis convention center and the now empty assembly hall where the historic votes had occurred nearly a year earlier. Here were veterans with familiar names, pioneers in the struggle of gay Lutherans for full inclusion, but the procession also swelled with many “first timers”. Much of the crowd remained in the Convention Hall for a reception and dinner dance well into the Saturday night.
Sunday morning was more subdued as the day began with the conclusion of the continuing business meeting. But then the closing worship rekindled the high spirits. The band from nearby Edina Community Lutheran Church had the worship hall at Augsburg swaying to bluesy renditions of traditional hymns and even the Kyrie Eleison was syncopated. By the time the final notes of “God be with you till we meet again” died out, there weren’t many dry eyes.
Note to my workshop attendees, click here for the powerpoint presentation in pdf format.