PRESS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT  The Rev. Phyllis Zillhart (415) 377-9783   or
        The Rev. Ruth Frost (415) 437-1982

ST. FRANCIS LUTHERAN CHURCH RESPONDS TO
CHURCH REPORT ON SEXUALITY

SAN FRANCISCO – A pastor at one of the churches
expelled from the national Lutheran body for ordaining
lesbian and gay clergy said today's church report on
sexuality "fails us in choosing not to move more boldly"
in the direction of gay rights.

St. Francis Lutheran Church thinks of itself as a little
church with a big vision. For the past twenty-five years
of its one hundred year history in
San Francisco, the
parish has been tirelessly ministering to and partnering
with lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered people.

"We decided that the best way we could advocate on behalf of
people who have been made to feel like second class citizens
in church and society is to live the future we want to see
happen right now in our own time and in our own
congregation." says Pastor Ruth Frost, Associate Pastor at St.
Francis. "We cannot keep putting off LGBT people in the
hopes that the wider church will come around. We are moving
ahead in our own communal life in such a way that we can be
a model for the wider church and a beacon of hope for LGBT
people.

This decision has cost St. Francis its membership in the
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). The 150
member parish was expelled in 1995 for calling Frost and her
partner of twenty years, Phyllis Zillhart, as their pastors.

Since then, the parish has continued to marry same gender
couples, offer rituals of support to transgendered people
seeking support in identity transition, and spiritual care
to those who deal with the health issues of HIV/AIDS.

** St. Francis will host a forum on
Saturday, January 15, 2005
** with lesbian and gay clergy from across the
U.S. commemorating
** the first ordinations in 1990 of lesbian and gay clergy. Events
** of the day will include a press conference with gay clergy and
** representatives of pro-LGBT Lutheran groups. The forum will
** begin at
12:30 p.m. on Saturday, January 15, 2005 at St. Francis
**
Lutheran Church, 152 Church St., in San Francisco. For more
** information on the events, call the church at (415) 621-2635.

"We are living God's "yes!" to all people of faith who are
seeking to love God and their neighbor. We are birthing
God's justice-love into the world just as Mary birthed God's
love in Jesus long ago," said Pastor Frost.

When questioned about the recently released report from the
Task Force on Human Sexuality in the ELCA, Frost said, "I'm
glad the report urges a softening of disciplinary action
against those congregations that call LGBT pastors and that
it encourages the church to allow discretionary power to
pastors who are considering officiating at unions."

Pastor Frost said, "That's a step in the right direction.
Where the study fails us is in choosing not to move more
boldly in overturning the ELCA's discriminatory policies.
They fall short out of deference to widely differing views
in the church that they describe as differences based in
conscience. This sets up arguments for full recognition of
LGBT people and arguments against full recognition of LGBT
people as moral equivalents. We don't believe that bigotry,
however sincere, should be the moral equivalent of justice.
That is not a genuine issue of conscience. "

Pastor Frost said,  "But we also know that little is gained
by trying to argue people out of their mindset. That's why
we've decided to live in such a way that LGBT people can
receive the respect and recognition that was the guiding
force in the ministry of Jesus Christ-- and should be the
guiding force among Christians today-- right here at St.
Francis."

Pastor Frost said, "When visitors worship with us, they
experience at first hand the heart to heart connection that
is evident here.  They see the respect with which gay
couples and families are treated. They discover how joyful
it is to worship and work with people who have claimed
their wholeness and are living their lives with honesty
and authenticity instead of secrecy and shame."

Pastor Frost said, "Honesty and authenticity and loving,
same-gender marriages hurt no one. In fact, what straight
folks need to realize is that as LGBT people speak out and
live their lives authentically, the safer everyone will be
in church. As personal judgments are set aside, all people
are free to learn what makes for peace and wholeness,
individually and communally. We become open to the new work
of the Spirit among us on a daily basis and better able to
do our work of peacemaking in the world."

St. Francis' website is at http://www.st-francis-lutheran.org

The ELCA's sexuality report is at:
http://www.elcawebstatus.org/tfreport.pdf

The ELCA's press release on the sexuality report can be read at:
http://www.elca.org/Scriptlib/CO/ELCA_News/encArticleList.asp?a=2978&p=1