Q: Under the new policies, can a Lutheran church refuse to hire a gay pastor?
A: Hiring works a little different in the church than it does in other places. We don’t apply for jobs. And when you’re talking about spirituality, and where people are in their lives, it really takes a connection, like on a relationship level, that doesn’t necessarily come out in a regular job interview. It becomes very complicated.
Myself, if I knew a congregation didn’t welcome everyone, I would just say no to the (position). If I knew they really didn’t like female ministers, OK, you know what? I know that that’s how this community is. And perhaps if I was at the right point in my life, I might go. I’ve been the first woman pastor in a parish before. And yes, you can change people’s minds and you can show a different way. But sometimes you can’t. And I think that’s more how it will play out: people will just kind of know pockets or where they should and shouldn’t go.
Q: Do you think there will be a further split over this that no one is foreseeing?
A: There has already been a split over the past decade. We have had some parishes leave. Some have gone to the (Lutheran Church-Canada) most recently. There’s a new group called the Canadian Association of Lutheran Churches who have stepped aside on this issue and said, ”˜We don’t want any part of a church that is blessing same-sex marriages or rostered clergy who are gay.’ So we’ve already lost some, and I think we’ll lose a few more. Some congregations, some pastors, and within each individual parish we’ll probably lose a few. But it’s a risk that the church is willing to take.