A Lutheran church
in Chicago has ordained a lesbian who refuses to take a
vow of celibacy, becoming the first to test a new resolution
that gives bishops leeway in disciplining such
Lutheran Church in America requires vows of celibacy for
gay but not for heterosexual clergy -- a policy the Reverend
Jen Rude, 27, calls discriminatory.
Wayne Miller, did not try to block Rude's ordination at
Resurrection Lutheran Church on Saturday, but he also didn't
attend the ceremony. While he has said he believes the
celibacy rule should reversed, he also has urged
bishops to follow rules set by the church.
''My goal is to
keep people in the conversation, and I do not see this as
an issue that should be dividing the church,'' he said
before the church ordained Rude.
father and grandfather are both Lutheran ministers,
expressed gratitude to the congregation.
to me in the sense that my call is being affirmed not
only by God, but the people of God,'' she said.
Some of the more
than 100 members of the congregation cried as Rude stood
before them during the ceremony.
''We all realized
that sexual orientation has nothing to do with how well
a person can minister a congregation,'' said Kathy Young, a
At a national
assembly in August, Evangelical Lutherans urged bishops to
refrain from defrocking gay and lesbian ministers who
violate the celibacy rule, but they also rejected
measures that would have permitted ordaining gays
full inclusion of gays were encouraged at the time, calling
the resolution a powerful statement in support of clergy
with same-sex partners. Conservatives, however, said
bishops would feel more secure in ignoring
Miller said he
met with Resurrection's congregation last month to discuss
the possible consequences of Rude's ordination if national
church leaders decide to enforce the policy later.
Among those consequences: the congregation could be
expelled from the denomination.
mainline Protestant groups, the Chicago-based Evangelical
Lutheran Church in America has been struggling for decades
to reconcile differences on the issue.
An ELCA task
force is near the end of an eight-year study on human
sexuality, which is expected to culminate in the 2009
release of a statement that will influence church
million-member ELCA is the country's largest Lutheran