After over 10 years of being expelled from the Evangelical Lutheran Church Association (ELCA), the First United Lutheran Church of San Francisco has been welcomed home. To celebrate, they held a service of Reconciliation and Healing in early October.
The First United Lutheran Church of San Francisco was kicked out of the organization in 1996 for ordaining Jeff Johnson as a pastor. Johnson was openly gay and in a same-sex relationship at the time. The backlash from this decision started the movement, Lutheran Gay and Lesbian Ministries, which helps members of the LGBTQ community understand how they can live in faith and with their sexual orientation.
The ELCA Churchwide Assembly ended their policy that discriminated against ministers living in committed, lifelong, same-gender relationships in 2009, which allowed Johnson and the church to be part of the ELCA community again.
At the ceremony welcoming them back, Rev. Mark Holmerud, bishop of the Sierra Pacific Synod (ELCA), thanked the First United Lutheran Church for being a faithful Christian witness, saying, “You [as a church] have helped to change the landscape of Christianity itself so that, more and more, the radically inclusive love in the ministry of Jesus Christ is what we are becoming known for.”
Image via First United Lutheran Church