In another step for the ELCA toward becoming a welcoming and inclusive church, Bp. Mark Holmerud (left), Bishop of the ELCA Sierra Pacific Synod, ended his report to the synod at today's assembly with the news that he was lifting the censure of University Lutheran Chapel in Berkeley, CA. The Chapel was placed under censure in 2000, after calling Rev. Jeff Johnson (ELM Roster).
Bp. Holmerud's announcement was greeted with tears, cheers and a standing ovation from the assembly. Bp. Holmerud has been a strong supporter of opening the doors and pulpits of the ELCA to people of diverse sexualities and genders. Bp. Holmerud has shared his own story of transformation from his decision to not attend the extraordinary ordinations of Rev. Jeff Johnson, Rev. Ruth Frost and Rev. Phyllis Zillhart to his committed and outspoken support in recent years.
University Lutheran Chapel was placed under censure when they called Rev. Jeff Johnson ten years ago. Pastor Jeff was extraordinarily ordained in 1990 (photo at right) and served First United Lutheran Church for ten years before accepting a call to the Chapel. Pastor Jeff was a founder of Lutheran Lesbian & Gay Ministries and Extraordinary Candidacy Project, the predecessor organizations to Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries. Jeff is a visionary and passionate pastor. Pastor Jeff lives in Oakland with his partner, Pepe Sanchez Aldaco.
Pastor Jeff was also elected today to the Sierra Pacific Synod Council, pending his reception onto the ELCA Roster. Stay tuned for more updates from the Sierra Pacific Synod Assembly.
We give thanks for the members and friends of University Lutheran Chapel for their long witness to an inclusive and welcoming church, to Pastor Jeff and Pepe, and to Bishop Mark Holmerud!