Contact: The Rev. Robert Goldstein, (415) 621-2635


St. Francis Lutheran Church to install new pastor


The installation of a new pastor for St. Francis Lutheran Church will take place on Sunday, March 26, 2006, at 2:30 p.m. St. Francis is located at 152 Church Street in San Francisco, near the intersection of Church, Market, and 14th Streets, across from the Safeway.

Pastor Robert Goldstein is called by the congregation to be its new lead pastor. He formerly served congregations in New Jersey and Chicago. He has been a pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and its predecessor, the Lutheran Church in America, since 1975.

Born in Melbourne, Australia, he received his B.A. in biblical languages and literature from Abilene Christian University, and a B.D. and S.T.M. at Yale, where he specialized in the philosophical writings of Wittgenstein and Kierkegaard. He received a Ph.D. in philosophical theology from Princeton Theological Seminary. An openly gay man, Pastor Goldstein has been a proponent of equal rights for women and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Presiding at the installation will be the Rev. Dr. Susan Strouse, pastor of First United Lutheran Church of San Francisco. Preaching will be Bishop Paul Landahl of the ELCA's Metropolitan Chicago Synod. Officiating at the rite of installation will be the Rev. Dan Solberg, dean of the ELCA's San Francisco Conference and pastor of St. Paulus Lutheran Church.

St. Francis Lutheran Church was one of two congregations expelled from the ELCA at the end of 1995 because it called and ordained a gay man and a lesbian couple as pastors in 1990 in violation of a rule requiring congregations to call only clergy approved by the ELCA. The three candidates were ELCA seminary graduates, and were not approved for call solely because they would not commit to lifelong abstention from homosexual sexual relationships as required by ELCA policy. St. Francis is an independent Lutheran congregation. It continues to participate in activities of the ELCA's local San Francisco Conference and regional Sierra Pacific Synod. Many ELCA members continue to welcome the expelled congregations, and they have been granted voice but not vote at synod assemblies.

St. Francis is the result of a 1964 merger of Danish and Finnish Lutheran congregations founded a century ago. Its present building dates from 1905. Its neighborhood was then the home of many Scandinavian immigrants, but is now very mixed, and on the edge of the Castro. In the 1970's St. Francis began to openly welcome GLBT worshipers. The congregation grew in numbers and took on new life as well as a leadership role in the controversy within the ELCA over issues relating to homosexuality. St. Francis has also reached out in other ministries, helps to support a day care center, and has active programs for seniors and the homeless. It has sponsored refugees from Southeast Asia and Central America. Its building is used as a meeting place by several 12-step groups.