Lutheran Quo Vadis

Posted by Censor Librorum on Nov 26, 2007 | Categories: Lesbian in a Catholic Sort of Way

The Rev. Katrina D. Foster of the Fordham Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Bronx may be defrocked for being in a same-sex relationship.

When she first arrived Rev. Foster kept a secret from her congregation, and held on it even after a woman came to live with her in the parsonage, then joined the church choir. “Some people would say, ‘It’s so nice you have someone to live with you in that eleven room house,'” said Pastor Foster, 39.

But in 2002, when the woman, Pamela Kallimanis, became pregnant, Pastor Foster sat her congregants down one by one and told them she and Ms. Kallimanis were expecting a child.

A few people drifted away after the news, and several members of the congregation say they are still struggling with the passage in the Bible that many consider a prohibition on homosexuality: “Thou shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind: it is abomination.”

Pastor Foster and her roughly 100 congregants face a new challenge: the possibility that she, along with four other pastors in the New York area and 81 nationwide could be defrocked in 2009 by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

The country’s largest Lutheran denomination, it allows openly gay pastors but forbids them from being in same-sex relationships, according to the Rev. Stephen P. Bouman, bishop of the demonination’s New York-area synod.

In August Pastor Foster was among the clerics who disclosed they were in same-sex relationships at the biennial national assembly in Chicago. The assembly voted not to discipline those pastors until the issue of pastors and same-sex relationships could be voted on in the next meeting in 2009.

Bishop Bouman said he would not have disciplined Pastor Foster anyway. “She is someone whose faith is genuine and she lives it in a very bold and inclusive way. She’s not afraid to tell people that she loves God and that God loves them.”

But Bishop Bouman is leaving in March to take a national position, and whoever succeeds him may aim to defrock Pastor Foster of the 2009 assembly.

“I think we’ve all grown because of her,” said the church president, Emilie Ramdhanie, 61, a Virgin Islands-born social worker. “She’s made us a lot more aware of what it means to be gay and have a full life like anyone else.”

Is it the work of the Spirit when a loving and lively pastor may lose her spiritual home? Is being heterosexual, or being silent and closeted, the first criteria among all others to determine whether or not a person is worthy for ordination?

Bookmark and Share

Leave a Reply