National Lutheran News

New Lutheran group opposes ordaining gays, lesbians

Solid Rock Lutherans organized to keep ELCA from changing its policy

Last fall a dozen ELCA leaders gathered at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota, and decided to organize a single-issue interest group. “Solid Rock Lutherans was created,” says its CEO, Dr. Roy A. Harrisville III, “to do one thing specifically — focus on sexuality and ordination in the ELCA.”

Whether or not to ordain gay and lesbian persons living in committed relationships is arguably the hottest issue facing the ELCA right now. With three congregations in the metro area now served by such leaders and a vote scheduled on the issue at the 2005 Orlando Churchwide Assembly, the waters are roiling.

Solid Rock’s leader explained, “This group was organized because of concern about where the ELCA is headed.” He said his group is dedicated to steering the 5.1 million member denomination back toward its confessional commitments, which, he believes, includes withholding ordination from sexually-active gay and lesbian persons.

In a lengthy interview conducted at the Minnesota Church Center during August, Harrisville told Metro Lutheran, “Solid Rock Lutherans is working hard to influence the [Orlando] vote.”

He said, “We are not in favor of a delay in the vote. At this point I don’t think it can be put off.”

What about an idea currently circulating in many ELCA synods, suggesting an alternative “local option” for congregations, which would allow each to choose its own path on this controversial question? Harrisville says, “It would raise the legitimate question, ‘Why have we spent $1.5 million on this process?’”

While he says he’s “guardedly optimistic” that the ELCA “will be faithful on this issue” (meaning, that the proposal to change the rules on ordination will be defeated). “Of course, things can change in a year.”

Harrisville is blunt about what he thinks the church’s prospects are, should the church change its guidelines. “We will probably see a schism in the denomination.” He says, “The ELCA is losing churches steadily now. About 45 went out last year, and a dozen have left so far in 2004. If this passes, the ELCA won’t survive in its present form.”

He adds, “We’re against gay blessings [and gay ordinations]. We’re not against gays.”

As the single salaried staff member of Solid Rock, Harrisville occupies a small office in a building sublet from Youth Encounter at 3490 Lexington Avenue, Shorewood, Minnesota.

More information about Solid Rock Lutherans is available at www.sldrck.org. Harrisville can be reached at royh@sldrck.org.