Local group gives support to gay and lesbian persons
Caring Families and Friends is jointly sponsored by two ELCA synods
“We affirm gay and lesbian persons as a part of God’s creation,” says Annette Al-derson, Minneapolis, treasurer of Caring Families and Friends. “We believe all individuals are to be welcomed and included in the Christian fellowship.
“A text for this belief is Romans 15:7, ‘Welcome one another, therefore, as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.’”
Caring Families and Friends is a project of the joint committee for ministry to and with gay and lesbian persons, their families and friends, sponsored by the Minneapolis and St. Paul Area Synods of the ELCA. The group meets at Univer-sity Lutheran Church of Hope, Minneapolis, eight months each year, Septem-ber through November and January through May on each fourth Sunday afternoon, from 2:00-4:00 p.m.
Gay persons, their parents, siblings, friends and any other people interested, are invited to the opening fall program, Sunday, Sep-tember 26, 2004, at 2:00 p.m. at Church of Hope. The speaker will be Arland J. Hultgren, professor of New Testament at Luther Seminary.
“This is a support group. We don’t debate whether homosexuality is right or wrong,” says Sindy Tellek-son, St. Paul, outgoing chair of the two synods’ joint committee. “It’s also an educational and socializing opportunity. We offer devotions and a program, then break into smaller discussion groups, all in a safe environment. What people say is confidential.
“Sometimes gay people have driven a distance of 40 or 50 miles to be with us. They say, ‘I wish we had something like this at home for my parents because they can’t talk about it, even to their pastor,” Sindy adds. “One of our problems is reaching people who need support, but their church or pastor is not talking about the subject.”
People learn about Car-ing Families and Friends through various channels, among them Twin Cities newspapers, including Metro Lutheran. Twice a year, notices are sent to all Minneapolis and St. Paul area churches asking that pastors publicize the group and its programs. Many who come have read about it in their church bulletin. The group is not restricted to Lutherans.
Presenters of previous programs include: Abigail Garner, author of the book, Families Like Mine: Children of Gay Parents Tell It Like It Is; LCMS pastor Al Bertke and his wife, Darlene, who shared a video of their gay son’s wedding in Canada; and a Minneapolis school social worker who advises the Gay and Straight Alliance, a youth group.
Sindy and Wayne Tel-lekson, who are members of Pilgrim Lutheran Church, St. Paul (ELCA) became involved after one of their three children came out. “At first you are devastated, but then you want to learn everything you can,” Tellekson says. “Some people come to their first meeting unable to join the discussion. They begin by listening and realizing that there are many other parents in the same situation.”
Annette Alderson, a member of Lutheran Church of Christ the Redeemer, Minneapolis (ELCA), was invited to join Caring Families and Friends as an ally. “This is something I wanted to support, and I said ‘yes.’ One of the things that gay and lesbian people and their parents experience is having Scripture turned against them. The fact that there are also supportive scriptural passages is a word that we all need to hear.”
A retired social worker, Annette served at Martin Luther Manor, Bloomington, and Lyngblomsten Care Center, St. Paul.
“Many who have studied the texts seriously are convinced that the Bible doesn’t address homosexuality as we know it today, as an orientation,” Tellekson says. “Many of us Lutherans grew up thinking homosexuality is wrong. The Revised Standard Version of the Bible used ‘homosexuality’ in key passages in which the New Revised Standard Version does not use the term.”
Metro Lutheran asked both women why they think there is such a division of opinion among Lutherans on issues relating to gay and lesbian orientation. “Sexual orientation involves something about us that is deep within ourselves,” Annette says. “It gets so close to who we are, that we are not always comfortable with the issue.”
“People don’t want to deal with it,” Tellekson says. “But, whether you know it or not, each extended family, the family of anyone in church on Sunday morning, probably has gay persons in it.” She encourages people to learn more about Caring Families and Friends by visiting the Web site: http:// jointcommittee.tripod.com.