Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
Three years ago, I was called to be your pastor. I came among you both excited and scared. I was excited because I saw in this congregation a commitment to God and a commitment to serve. I was excited to be beginning a new ministry in a setting where God seemed to be so present. I also was scared because of my previous experiences in the congregation. My previous call had left me wounded and cautious. I am pleased to say that I did in fact find a Spirit filled, nurturing congregation where my wounds could heal.
With all of you, I also found a congregation that challenged me to become more than I could ever hope. I found a congregation that pushed me to learn more about myself and pushed me to learn more about my theology. Many insightful and probing questions moved me to take a look at myself and my ministry. This push to growth has opened doors for me that I never knew existed. However, it is because of this growth that I am informing you of my resignation from you as a congregation and from the roster of the ELCA. This resignation will become effective August 14th, 2006.
I am not leaving the ministry, but I am moving from the ELCA to the Episcopal Church USA. The reason for this move is that through growth and personal insight, I have come to the conclusion that I cannot live in acceptance of some aspects of ELCA theology and politics. I especially have difficulty with "Section III: Sexual Conduct" of the document entitled Visions and Expectations. (The part that is especially difficult is the sentence that reads, "Ordained ministers who are homosexual in their self-understanding are expected to abstain from homosexual sexual relationships.)
When I arrived among you three years ago, this letter was the last thing I ever though I would be writing. However, in the process of healing from my previous call, the wound of my "aloneness" come to the fore. Even as the ELCA has been publicly wrestling with the issue of sexual orientation, I have been on a private journey of my own. It has been scary and confusing, but it has also been filled with joy and contentment. Where in the past I have felt like a shattered and fragmented person living a lie, I now feel whole, healthy, and truthful.
It makes me sad that finding such wholeness and happiness in my life means that I will no longer be able to serve you as your pastor. But as the policy of the ELCA currently stands, there is no other option. For me to remain truthful to myself and to serve the Church, I will be transferring my credentials to the Episcopal Church.
I am deeply sorry for any difficulty or hurt this may cause. To hurt you was never my intent. I have deep love and respect for all of you. The timing of my leaving was chosen so as to cause as little disruption of congregational life as possible.
It is my prayer that the Holy Spirit strengthen and guide you during this time of transition. I also ask you to keep me in your prayers as I face a future that is unclear. Storms may for in our lives, but we can trust in our Savior!