By Adam Jerome, I-O Reporter
On Thursday night, Jessica Crist the Montana Bishop for the Lutheran Church came to Conrad to hold a Q and A session at the Pondera Valley Lutheran Church (PVLC).
The Q and A which resembled more of a sales pitch was attended by 20-30 church members.
The reason for the Bishop’s visit is because the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA) requires a meeting with the Montana Bishop before a second vote on leaving takes place.
Crist began the evening with a prayer followed by a list of reasons that the PVLC should consider staying with the organization.
She made it known that the ELCA is not a hierarchal system that demands conformity and that disagreement is okay. Crist encouraged the parish to stay but also supports their right to leave.
Crist also warned that if the congregation decides to leave they will lose their tax-exempt status through the ELCA and will have to gain it through another Lutheran organization.
She outlined the two decisions that were made at the conference in August. First off, the ELCA decided to acknowledge lifelong monogamous relationships between same gender couples in what she explained as “holding these people to the same sense of accountability that other married couples adhere to.”
The second decision allowed pastors in long term same gender relationships to continue their pastoral duties.
Crist was quick to mention, “The ELCA is not going to start sneaking gay pastors into congregations where they would not be comfortable or are not welcome.”
She summed up, “the two decisions were not made flippantly, but after much prayer and scriptural study, not on the whims of society.”
The next step in the process will be a final vote for ratification on Jan 31, 2010.