Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

A Lesbian Lutheran in the Pulpit: Despite Her Church's Ban on Noncelibate Gay and Lesbian Pastors, Mary Albing Was Appointed by a Minneapolis Congregation. (Behind the Headlines)

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

A Lesbian Lutheran in the Pulpit: Despite Her Church's Ban on Noncelibate Gay and Lesbian Pastors, Mary Albing Was Appointed by a Minneapolis Congregation. (Behind the Headlines)

Article excerpt

After 12 years as a pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Reverend Mary Albing wasn't sure she could come out as a lesbian. So she left a pastoral post several years ago but continued to work in the church as a hospital chaplain. During that time she fell in love, and she has been in a committed relationship for two years.

Albing's desire to lead a congregation never waned, though, and last fall she decided to return as a Lutheran pastor. Despite an ELCA law that requires oil unmarried clergy to remain chaste, Albing didn't hide the nature of her relationship. And when filling out the paperwork to rejoin the ranks of pastors, she checked "no" next to the requirement that she remain celibate.

Nevertheless, Minneapolis's Lutheran Church of Christ the Redeemer opened its arms to the 48-year-old Albing and installed her as its pastor on May 18.

Albing's appointment is evidence of changing attitudes within ELCA, members said. The ruling bishop refused to "sign the call" that would officially recognize Albing as a pastor. Yet no one expects that her appointment will prompt the church to sanction her congregation. The Advocate talked with Albing about the changes taking place within the denomination.

How significant is your appointment?

There are other gay and lesbian pastors out there, but there aren't very many who are doing it openly and in defiance.

Are you in defiance?

Technically, I am. At a certain point last fall I just decided that I'm tired of being afraid of all this. I love being a pastor. This is really where my calling is.

You seem to occupy a middle ground in which you are being neither sanctioned by the ELCA nor officially recognized. How will that affect your work?

I can go on leave from call for three years, and hopefully by that time there will be some kind of a vote [regarding gay clergy]. …

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