Q&A Guidelines


Sexuality Committee Updates

Common Questions & Answers

 

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Why are we talking about same-gender marriage?

At the beginning of the summer, Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod Bishop Claire Burkat recommended that congregations discuss their response to the legalization of same gender marriage in Pennsylvania. The Bishop also recommended if they have not had broader conversations around homosexuality, this might be the time to do so.

St. John’s has not had any formal conversations around the ELCA Social Statement on Human Sexuality or the 2009 Churchwide Assembly decisions that allowed gay and lesbian people to be ordained and supported the blessing of same-gender unions.

May Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod congregations and pastors participate in same-gender marriages?
Upon the legalization of same-gender marriage in Pennsylvania, congregations that choose to do so may marry same-gender couples.

Under what authority may this happen?
The 2009 Churchwide Assembly actions regarding human sexuality included a commitment to work with congregations to find ways to recognize committed same-gender relationships (CA09.05.25), and in states where such marriages are legal, marriage is the highest form of recognition.

Must congregations or pastors participate in same-gender marriages?
The Churchwide Assembly actions clearly state that decisions to support and recognize committed, accountable same-gender relationships are part of the pastoral ministry of the congregation and its pastor(s). Recognizing that the church is not of one mind on this subject, the actions provide that congregations and clergy should discern together whether to recognize such relationships and to what degree. The Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod and ELCA will respect the individual decisions of congregations and clergy on this matter.

Are we only discussing the topic of same-gender marriage?
While the impetus for these congregational discussions was same-gender marriage, it quickly became clear to members of the task force that a much broader issue, that of being an inclusive body of Christ, also needs intentional discussion and definition at St. John’s. The taskforce feels that our community is at the point when it is appropriate and necessary to gain clarity about what we proclaim when we say, “All are welcome.”

All people are welcome in our congregation. Why do we need to discuss the concept of welcome?
Some people have learned that congregations can proclaim that ‘all are welcome’ and not truly be welcoming to ALL people. A general statement of welcome can be heard as meaning “everybody but me,” so it can take a special effort to communicate an authentic welcome to ALL people. Becoming a Reconciling in Christ congregation is one option congregations can consider to express clearly that ALL truly are welcome.

What does it mean to become a Reconciling in Christ congregation?
As part of the ministry of Lutherans Concerned North America, the Reconciling in Christ program began in 1983 to recognize Lutheran congregations that welcome lesbian and gay members into full participation. In 2012, Lutheran Concerned North America changed their name to ReconcilingWorks and broadened their focus to include full
participation for all Lutherans.

From the ReconcilingWorks website: "Today, full participation in the church is inextricably intertwined with issues and concerns present in the larger society. Reconciling Lutherans are working hard to love their neighbors—all their
neighbors. ReconcilingWorks follows Christ who ministered at the crossroads of life and the intersection of oppressions.  When obstacles are placed in people’s way based on their sexual orientation, gender identity, race, economic status, disability, immigration status or other realities deliberately used to marginalize whole groups of people,

ReconcilingWorks stands to challenge discrimination, to educate, to embody a community of welcome, to work together with others to help the church and society at large unite in valuing the gifts diversity brings.”

What is the process for becoming a Reconciling in Christ congregation? Congregations go through a process of conversation that leads to an affirmation of welcome that spells out the inclusive welcome of all people within the congregation. 

What might this statement of welcome look like?
Each congregation crafts their own statement, but a few examples are printed below:

A statement from a church in Arizona:
We acknowledge that throughout history the Christian church has often condemned and excluded people because of race, culture, age, gender, economic status, disability or sexual orientation. While the church has made progress in being open and affirming to many groups, there continues to be condemnation of gay, lesbian, bisexual and
transgender persons from the com­munity of faith, or at least, a tolerance of such condemnation and exclusion through silence. We believe such actions are incon­sistent with Christ’s teachings. 

Church of the Beatitudes is a community of faith-keeping and faith-seeking people who affirm that every person has worth as a unique creation made in the image of God. We recognize, celebrate and give thanks for the many gifts of God among us. We declare ourselves to be an Open and Affirming congregation, welcoming into the full life and ministry of the church persons of every race, culture, age, gender, sexual orientation, ability, and economic status. We commit to model a community of faith and spirit that works toward openness and understanding, offering justice, healing and wholeness of life for all people. We believe that through our diversity, all can grow and practice a unity of faith that transcends our differences. 

A statement from a Lutheran church in Colorado:

We extend a special welcome to those who are single, married, divorced, queer, filthy rich, dirt poor, or no hablo Inglés. We ex­tend a special welcome to those who are crying newborns, skinny as a rail or could afford to lose a few pounds. 

We welcome you if you can sing like Andrea Bocelli or like our pastor who can’t carry a note in a bucket. You’re welcome here if you’re “just browsing,” just woke up or just got out of jail. We don’t care if you’re more Catholic than the Pope, or haven’t been in church since little Joey’s Baptism. We extend a special welcome to those who are over 60 but not grown up yet, and to teenagers who are growing up too fast. We welcome soccer moms, NASCAR dads, starving artists, tree-huggers, latte-sippers, vegetarians,
junk-food eaters. We wel­come those who are in recovery or still addicted. We welcome you if you’re having problems or you’re down in the dumps or if you don’t like “organized religion,” we’ve been there too.  If you blew all your offering money at the dog track, you’re welcome here. We offer a special welcome to those who think the earth is flat, work too hard, don’t work, can’t spell, or because grandma is in town and wanted to go to church. 

We welcome those who are inked, pierced or both. We offer a special welcome to those who could use a prayer right now, had religion shoved down your throat as a kid or got lost in traffic and wound up here by mistake. We welcome tourists, seekers and doubters, bleeding hearts … and you! 

What process will be used for having these important conversations at St. John’s?
In the summer, a task force of St. John’s members was created to help determine the shape of the conversations. That group has met multiple times since August and the first step in the process will be inviting the congregation to come to one of several Coffee, Cake and Conversation gatherings this fall. Members of the taskforce will facilitate conversation and hear from the congregation on the issues and questions they have pertaining to this topic.

Based on the feedback received through the process, the taskforce will then make a recommendation to the council who will then make a decision. If the council decides to move forward in becoming a Reconciling in Christ congregation, same-gender marriage would be allowed to take place within our building as part of our welcome to all people.

Who is serving on the Task Force?

Task force members include Tom Cieselka, Jeremy Dusza, Pastor Becky Eisenhart, Kristie Faust, Marcia Grande, Becky Krauss, Linda Lysoby, and Cathy Sweeney

Download this Document 

Current Events at St. John's (submit event)

7/22/2018
Save the Date - Youth to Lead Worship Service!

10:30 AM - Parsonage Forum Following Worship

6:00 PM - Deadline for Weekly Email Items

7/25/2018
6:00 PM - Praise Team Rehearsal

7:00 PM - Handbell Choir

8:00 PM - Chancel Choir

7/29/2018
6:00 PM - Deadline for Weekly Email Items

8/1/2018
6:00 PM - Praise Team Rehearsal

7:00 PM - Handbell Choir

8:00 PM - Chancel Choir

8/5/2018
6:00 PM - Deadline for Weekly Email Items

8/6/2018
Fall Program Kick-off Newsletter Deadline

Save the Date - Community Meal

8/8/2018
6:00 PM - Praise Team Rehearsal

7:00 PM - Handbell Choir

8:00 PM - Chancel Choir

8/11/2018
Save the Date - YPO Reading Phillies Baseball Game

8/12/2018
6:00 PM - Deadline for Weekly Email Items

8/15/2018
6:00 PM - Praise Team Rehearsal

7:00 PM - Handbell Choir

8:00 PM - Chancel Choir

8/16/2018
5:30 PM - Heavenly Helpers Hoagie Pick-ups

8/19/2018
9:30 AM - IGNITE Worship Service!

4:00 PM - YPO Youth Night

6:00 PM - Deadline for Weekly Email Items

8/22/2018
6:00 PM - Praise Team Rehearsal

7:00 PM - Handbell Choir

8:00 PM - Chancel Choir

8/26/2018
10:30 AM - Outdoor Worship AT NEW GOSHENHOPPEN And Picnic!!

6:00 PM - Deadline for Weekly Email Items

8/29/2018
6:00 PM - Praise Team Rehearsal

7:00 PM - Handbell Choir

8:00 PM - Chancel Choir

9/2/2018
6:00 PM - Deadline for Weekly Email Items

9/5/2018
6:00 PM - Praise Team Rehearsal

7:00 PM - Handbell Choir

8:00 PM - Chancel Choir

9/8/2018
4:00 PM - YPO Camp Out

9/9/2018
4:00 PM - YPO Camp Out

6:00 PM - Deadline for Weekly Email Items

9/12/2018
6:00 PM - Praise Team Rehearsal

7:00 PM - Handbell Choir

8:00 PM - Chancel Choir

9/16/2018
6:00 PM - Deadline for Weekly Email Items

9/19/2018
6:00 PM - Praise Team Rehearsal

7:00 PM - Handbell Choir

8:00 PM - Chancel Choir

9/23/2018
6:00 PM - Deadline for Weekly Email Items

9/26/2018
6:00 PM - Praise Team Rehearsal

7:00 PM - Handbell Choir

8:00 PM - Chancel Choir

9/30/2018
6:00 PM - Deadline for Weekly Email Items

10/3/2018
6:00 PM - Praise Team Rehearsal

7:00 PM - Handbell Choir

8:00 PM - Chancel Choir

10/7/2018
6:00 PM - Deadline for Weekly Email Items

10/10/2018
6:00 PM - Praise Team Rehearsal

7:00 PM - Handbell Choir

8:00 PM - Chancel Choir

10/14/2018
6:00 PM - Deadline for Weekly Email Items

10/17/2018
6:00 PM - Praise Team Rehearsal

7:00 PM - Handbell Choir

8:00 PM - Chancel Choir

10/21/2018
6:00 PM - Deadline for Weekly Email Items

10/24/2018
6:00 PM - Praise Team Rehearsal

7:00 PM - Handbell Choir

8:00 PM - Chancel Choir

10/28/2018
6:00 PM - Deadline for Weekly Email Items

10/31/2018
6:00 PM - Praise Team Rehearsal

7:00 PM - Handbell Choir

8:00 PM - Chancel Choir

11/4/2018
6:00 PM - Deadline for Weekly Email Items

11/7/2018
6:00 PM - Praise Team Rehearsal

7:00 PM - Handbell Choir

8:00 PM - Chancel Choir

11/11/2018
6:00 PM - Deadline for Weekly Email Items

11/14/2018
6:00 PM - Praise Team Rehearsal

7:00 PM - Handbell Choir

8:00 PM - Chancel Choir

11/18/2018
6:00 PM - Deadline for Weekly Email Items

11/21/2018
6:00 PM - Praise Team Rehearsal

7:00 PM - Handbell Choir

8:00 PM - Chancel Choir

11/25/2018
6:00 PM - Deadline for Weekly Email Items

11/28/2018
6:00 PM - Praise Team Rehearsal

7:00 PM - Handbell Choir

8:00 PM - Chancel Choir

12/2/2018
6:00 PM - Deadline for Weekly Email Items

12/5/2018
6:00 PM - Praise Team Rehearsal

7:00 PM - Handbell Choir

8:00 PM - Chancel Choir

12/9/2018
6:00 PM - Deadline for Weekly Email Items

12/12/2018
6:00 PM - Praise Team Rehearsal

7:00 PM - Handbell Choir

8:00 PM - Chancel Choir

12/16/2018
6:00 PM - Deadline for Weekly Email Items

12/19/2018
6:00 PM - Praise Team Rehearsal

7:00 PM - Handbell Choir

8:00 PM - Chancel Choir

12/23/2018
6:00 PM - Deadline for Weekly Email Items

12/26/2018
6:00 PM - Praise Team Rehearsal

7:00 PM - Handbell Choir

8:00 PM - Chancel Choir

Worship Schedule

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Voice: 215.234.4888 . Fax: 215.234.0825 . E-mail: stj.stown@verizon.net