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Congregational Council Letter Re: Same-Gender Marriage

By Trinity Congregational Council, 08/16/13, 12:45AM CDT

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July 29, 2013

Dear Congregation:

With the recent change in state law allowing marriage between persons of the same sex, some Trinity members have asked whether our congregation will be performing such marriages. The answer to that is yes, we will. Trinity reaches out to all people to become part of our worshiping community. It has long been a welcoming place for all persons to explore, deepen and celebrate together our belief in a loving God. Although we have many approaches to that faith, we are united in our mission to “Love everyone, transform lives through Jesus, and serve the world.”

In Trinity’s statement on the Bible, we say:

As Christians, we believe that the life and teachings of Jesus are central to our understanding of the Bible’s core message of love and compassion. We affirm that some stories and passages in the Bible are more important than others. Jesus’ teaching of the greatest commandment, to love God with all our heart, soul and mind, and to love our neighbors as ourselves is the primary lens through which we understand the biblical message. (See: www.trinitylc.org/page/show/229742-what-we-believe )

This understanding means we welcome people to our congregation regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. Many of us know and love couples of the same gender who have been part of the Trinity community for years. As a faith community, Trinity respects the vocation of marriage, and we believe it should be entered into carefully and with thought and prayer. With our understanding of the love God has for us, couples who seek to marry at Trinity will be allowed to do so in accordance with state law, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. For any couple seeking to be married at Trinity, we use a pastoral approach, exploring with the couple their commitment to marriage, each other, and our community of faith. As part of that pastoral approach, couples receive premarital counseling and participate in a financial planning session to assist them in preparation for this commitment. We will continue to use that pastoral approach with all couples seeking to be married at Trinity.

In the tradition of Lutheran discernment, there are resources listed below that may be helpful in gaining a deeper understanding of human sexuality, marriage, and the Biblical framework of how we understand these matters as Lutherans. We also acknowledge that our community is not of one mind on this matter. But consistent with the ELCA commitment to the concept of bound conscience, we believe the Trinity community lives the Lutheran commitment “to respect and protect other believers with whom they disagree when those positions are also tied to their faith and to a carefully reasoned, thoughtful interpretation of Scripture and tradition.” (FAQs on ELCA Social Statement on Human Sexuality, linked on the following page.)

In a spirit of openness and a desire for all to be able to give voice to a question or opinion about this matter, the Council invites you to reach out to them via email, so please feel free to contact us. In addition, on Monday, Oct. 21 at 6 p.m, the Council will host an open forum to answer questions from the congregation.

We know that many of our gay, lesbian and transgendered members appreciate the warmth and acceptance with which they are received at Trinity. We invite all to extend that same warm welcome to newly married couples, regardless of their gender, and to support them as they live into their marriages and grow in their faith.

“Wherever you are in your journey, you are welcome here.”

Trinity Congregational Council

Eric Jackson COUNCIL PRESIDENT

Dan Poffenberger LEAD PASTOR

Eric Olsen COUNCIL MEMBER

Dana Miller COUNCIL MEMBER

Todd King TREASURER

Sara Godfrey SECRETARY

Jeff Anderson COUNCIL MEMBER

 

Resources & Background Information

Resources

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America A Social Statement on Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust

Frequently Asked Questions on the ELCA about the 2009 Churchwide Assembly actions regarding human sexuality

Reconciling Works: Lutherans for Full Participation How Does Marriage Matter? 

Background Information

Through the years, Trinity has offered the following experiences as we have walked with the ELCA in our common discernment on the issues of human sexuality:

• Listening and information sessions regarding the ELCA Social Statement on Human Sexuality.

• Classes about the theological, biblical and scientific resources for thinking about human sexuality.

• Sermons responding to the ELCA vote to allow the ordination of gay and lesbian people living in lifelong committed partnerships.

• Listening and information sessions prior to the ELCA vote to allow the ordination of gay and lesbian people living in lifelong committed partnerships.

• Congregational emails sharing reflections from Bishop Peter Rogness and Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson on the ELCA votes and the Minnesota Marriage Amendment.