When Lutherans met in Minneapolis last summer to decide whether to allow churches to hire gay and lesbian pastors in committed relationships, former Gov. Al Quie urged church members to stay with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America even if they opposed homosexuality. But now Quie has become a spokeman for a Lutheran separatist group opposed to the ELCA.
In August, Quie made an impassioned speech urging restraint among church members who disagreed with the majority on gay and lesbian pastors.
“I was opposed to this [change], too, but that’s my problem,” he said. “You can’t say now that you’re going to leave the church. We have to live with this change for a while and see how it works out.”
But now Quie is saying the opposite. In a column distributed to newspapers across the state, Quie urges congregations to leave the ELCA and withhold member payments – the majority of which are used for ELCA’s charitable causes.
“The leadership of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA) turned its back on members of ELCA churches and threatens the very existence of the church by allowing non-celibate pastors in homosexual relationships to be ordained into the ELCA,” Quie wrote in a column with fellow Lutheran Bob Lee. “The ELCA leadership certainly did not want congregational members voting on this controversial and unprecedented proposal because the vast majority of us would have opposed the decision.”
Quie then cites a number of churches who have left the ELCA, and others who are withholding payment.
Quie proposes these action steps: “What should ELCA members do? 1. Think about our youth. The ELCA decision is a travesty upon our youth. 2. Hold a congregational vote on whether the ELCA should permit non-celibate homosexuals to be ordained as pastors. 3. Stop all funding to the ELCA. 4. Contact Lutheran CORE (Coalition for Renewal)”
Obie Holmen, a blogger who has been covering the ELCA controversy extensively, points out that instead of “turning its back” on church members, the vote involved a diversity of ELCA members:
The truth, and Quie knows this, is that the actions of the ELCA assembly were the results of balloting by over a thousand voting members chosen from around the entire ELCA, elected to serve as voting members by ballot at 65 regional synods, comprised of representatives from each and every congregation of the ELCA. You [Quie] know very well that individual members voted in their local congregations for those who became their congregational representatives as voting members at the synod assemblies; in turn, those voting members at the synod assemblies then elected, through the process of nomination and ballot, those who served as the synodical voting members at the churchwide assembly. That was how you were elected to serve as a voting member at the 2009 church wide assembly.
Lutheran CORE is in the process of creating a new denomination within the Lutheran tradition for those churches that oppose homosexuality.