As the national convention of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America voted yesterday in Minneapolis to accept a social statement on human sexuality, tornado-like winds shook the downtown and ripped up the steeple at the ELCA’s Central Lutheran Church next door to the convention center. No one was injured. The statement, adopted by one vote more than the necessary two-thirds, paves the way for implementing resolutions on Friday that will permit ordination of gay pastors in same-sex relationships and the eventual recognition of same-sex marriage.
Last year the ELCA reported a loss 76,000 members and 52 congregations. Earlier this year church officials eliminated thirty-five staff positions at the denomination’s Chicago headquarters, and were forced to cut $2.4 million from the budget. Informed observers—uh, that would be me—foresee a possible loss of 300 to 500 congregations over the next three to five years as a result of the convention action.