Monday, August 24, 2009

Church changes signage after controversial vote on homosexualilty

Meet the man that believes gays brought the tornado to Minneapolis. If I encounter a burning bush, I'm out of here!

Seriously, I find it hypocritical to welcome homosexuals but then denounce them and also deny them clergyship. The whole "love the sinner, hate the sin" has always struck me as arrogant and judgemental. I would never attend church where I would be welcome as an act of generosity because they love me as a sign of sin.


by Charlotte Ferrell Smith
Daily Mail staff

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- As parishioners approached St. Timothy Lutheran Church on Sunday morning, something unusual was apparent.

On the signs outside the church, the word "Lutheran" was draped in black. Only the words "St. Timothy" remained visible.

"I asked that be done because I'm ashamed," the church's pastor, Richard Mahan, told the congregation later Sunday morning. "I'm ashamed of what the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has done to a church I've loved for 40 years."

Last week, leaders of the Evangelical Lutheran Church voted to remove a ban on gay clergy and also to recognize gay marriage within the church.

Mahan, pastor of the local Lutheran church along Corridor G, attended the conference in Minneapolis and spoke out against the change in policy. His message was widely received because he was interviewed by The New York Times and later quoted by The Associated Press in an article that ran worldwide.

Mahan's entire Sunday sermon concerned the homosexual issue, and what the church should do.

"We welcome the sinner, but we do not welcome the sin," he told the congregation. "All are welcome, but the sin is not.

"We have always welcomed gays and lesbians to our church, but according to the word of god, we do not believe they are to be ordained. I am not speaking out against the gay and lesbian community, but I am speaking out against the ordination of gays and lesbians as pastors and bishops and leaders of the church - and the blessing of same-sex marriages."

Mahan's church gave him a standing ovation as he began to give the announcements Sunday morning, but not all comments -- mostly delivered by e-mail or on Web sites -- have been supportive.

"I have been called homophobic, a racist, a hatemonger," Mahan said. "God is in control. Maybe he just wants me to stand up for what I believe in."

Other comments e-mailed from across the country took a different tone. He said one e-mail read, "May God bless your nailing this statement to the Internet door."

Mahan was one of the representatives in attendance in Minneapolis last week as the issue came up for a vote that has been anticipated for at least six months.

He said he saw symbolism in some of the things that happened there.

For example, a tornado that shook the congregation hall brushed across Minneapolis just before the vote. Mahan said he received a text message from another representative in opposition to the new policy, saying "Rich, God shot a cannonball across the bough of the ship of the ELCA to change her direction."

Then, the vote needed to carry a two-thirds supermajority, and it did exactly that - 66.67 percent of the delegates.

"Six-six-six-six!" Mahan told his congregation Sunday. "Was God saying something? Not many people were listening."

After the service ended Sunday, many members of the congregation stayed to take part in a discussion of what the church would do. Discussion at the church, where between 300 and 400 people attend each Sunday, focused mainly on whether to stay with the ELCA, branch off with another Lutheran synod or link up with another denomination altogether.

Mahan urged parishioners to pray and suggested the congregation would have to weigh the options heavily. He said nothing about the church's mission would change in the mean time.

"Let me assure you, nothing is going to change here at St. Timothy," Mahan said. "Jesus is still the same. The Bible is still the divinely inspired word of God. People may say things to hurt you. Take out the sword of the word of God. We are the church militant in the battle against Satan himself."

The assembly, the chief legislative authority of the ELCA, met at the Minneapolis Convention Center last week with 2,000 participants, including 1,045 ELCA voting members.

St. Timothy Lutheran Church, located at 900 Lawnadale Lane in Charleston, is one of 65 congregations in the West Virginia-Maryland Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America.

"The ELCA has lost 490,000 members in the past eight years," said Mahan, who believes membership will decline sharply in light of recent votes.

"We don't know what we will do as a congregation," he said Friday. "It's up to individual congregations whether to stay in the ELCA or pull out. This is going to split the church."

When votes were tallied last week on the ordination of homosexuals, there was a mixed reaction in the crowd. Some were solemn while others hugged and rejoiced.

Mahan said he wept.

"I love everyone," Mahan said Friday. "I love all people. This is just completely contradictory to the word of God.

"I love homosexuals, have ministered to them, and had homosexuals in my congregation," he said. "Nowhere in the Bible does it say you can have same-sex marriage."

Mahan said one gay pastor told him he attended to vote his own intention but after hearing Mahan speak on the assembly floor he was going to change his vote to mirror Mahan's conscience.

"It was the most powerful thing that ever happened to me," Mahan said.

While he may leave the denomination, he intends to stay true to his faith.

"I am not leaving Christianity," he said.


  1. Wow, have to love the pick and choose from the old testament method of belief.

    My favorite quote so far? "Nowhere in the Bible does it say you can have same-sex marriage."

    Well heck, if it doesn't say it explicitly it must be wrong...Now get off those Satan inspired God damned (literal, not figurative)coputers, because it doesn't say anywhere in the bible that it's ok to use them!

    -THIS- is why it pains me to every admit to any Christianity. Sigh. Done ranting.

  2. I asked the Goddess and she said she loved the sinner, the sin and his new sneakers.