Another metro congregation open to alternative ordinations
Bethany in Seward becomes fourth ELCA parish to change its constitution.
The number of Twin Cities ELCA congregations willing to consider calling candidates from a roster of alternatively ordained candidates has grown to four.
Bethany Lutheran Church, 2511 East Franklin Avenue in Minneapolis’ Seward Neigh-borhood, voted on January 25 to change its constitution, allowing candidates to be called not only from the official ELCA roster but also from the Extraordinary Candidacy Project (ECP) roster.
The ECP roster includes theologically trained ELCA candidates for ordination who are ineligible for regular call because they live in committed same-sex relationships.
Bethany Lutheran has a pastoral minister on its staff who is ready for ordination as an ECP rostered candidate.
Bethany joins three other Twin Cities congregations which have also changed their constitutions to allow calling ECP candidates. They include Edina Community Lutheran Church; St. Paul-Reformation Lutheran Church, St. Paul; and Lutheran Church of Christ the Redeemer, southwest Minne-apolis.
Both St. Paul-Reformation and Lutheran Church of Christ the Redeemer are presently served by pastors living in committed same-sex relationships. The ELCA forbids clergy living in such relationships to serve as pastors in its congregations.
Bethany has now voted twice in support of the constitution change — 42-10 at a November meeting, 52-10 more recently. The Rev. Steve Benson, Bethany’s pastor, said the congregation had a period of discernment during which many began to say, “We don’t understand why our pastoral minister can’t be a pastor in the full sense.” Benson said a ground swell then developed.
The Bishop of the Minneapolis Area Synod, the Rev. Craig Johnson, told Metro Lutheran that the synod does not recognize the revised constitution at Bethany, nor the revised versions of the other two congregations in the synod having taken the identical step. He said, “The Synod Council has not approved, and cannot approve” the revised versions of the three constitutions. Johnson said the synod considers the non-revised versions to be the valid ones.