Lesbian minister ordained
Jodi Barry, am openly lesbian minister, was ordained Saturday at the Grace University Lutheran Church in Minneapolis, the Star Tribune reported.
The ordination will test a new policy of the Evangelical Lutheran Church to avoid disciplining those who ordain openly gay people.
Although not the first lesbian to be ordained into a Lutheran ministry, supporters hope Barry's ordination will be a step toward greater acceptance of gay and lesbian pastors by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), the Star Tribune reported.
Barry,41, has been a youth minister intern at Grace University Lutheran Church in Minneapolis for a year, but the ceremony was conducted by Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries (ELM), a national network committed to full acceptance of gay and lesbian pastors in the Lutheran church.
ELCA's "refrain and restraint" policy instated in August 2007 is instructs leaders not to criticize individual congregations when they choose a gay or lesbian minister, despite the ELCA's position against gay clergy.
This ordination will be one of the first to test that policy.
The ordination is not recognized by the national church body and openly gay ministers are nto included on the church's national roster of pastors.
"Change comes slowly," Barry said before the afternoon service at this church on the University of Minnesota's East Bank. "It took a long time for Martin Luther. Our goal has always been not to start a new church, not to leave the ELCA. A lot of people are working for full inclusion. Of course I want that. It's frustrating, it's painful."
Barry said she left the Lutheran church for several years and tried other congregations, but returned to the ECLA in 2001, the Star Tribune reported.
"They weren't a good fit," she said. "The Lutheran church is my home. As a person of faith I have to hope for change, and to fight from within for it."