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Following Act of "Ecclesiastical Disobedience," Lutheran Bishop Paul Egertson Resigns

StoryJune 01, 2001
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After admitting that he had engaged in an act of "ecclesiastical disobedience" by participating in the ordination ofa lesbian, Bishop Paul Egertson today officially announces his resignation from the Evangelical Lutheran Church inAmerica.

In an open letter to the ministers and synod council members of his Southern California Synod, Bishop Egertson wrote:

“Yesterday, Shirley and I celebrated our 45th Wedding Anniversary. Within our first year of marriage, God gave us ourfirst son. He was and is a gift.

He was and is gay. Over the next fifteen years God gave us five more sons. They were and are gifts. They arestraight. You never know what is in God’s gifts until you open them. We have been blessed and we are grateful.

“...at the invitation of St. Paul/Reformation Lutheran Church, St. Paul, MN, and by its authorization, Iparticipated, along with others, in the irregular ordination of Anita Hill. Among other things, that event was an actof ecclesiastical disobedience, protesting the ELCA’s policy of precluding gay and lesbian people in committedrelationships from ordination...

"Early in the week following the ordination, the executive committee of the Conference of Bishops met and ourPresiding Bishop, H. George Anderson, phoned me to report the results of that meeting. They recalled a promise I hadmade to the bishops at my first meeting with them in which I said that, if I ever found it necessary to act inaccordance with my convictions about the role of gay and lesbian people in our church, in a way that would violatethe constitution or policy of this church, I would resign."

Egertson is the first active bishop in the 5.1 million member denomination the nation’s largest Lutheran body to joinin the ordination of a non-celibate gay or lesbian.

The church ordains gays and lesbians only if they pledge to remain celibate.

Guest:

  • Greg Egertson, son of Bishop Egertson and co-chair of the Lutheran Lesbian and Gay Ministries.
  • Anita Hill, newly ordained Pastor of the St. Paul Reformation Lutheran Church.

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