W.Va. Church Drops 'Lutheran' from Name after Gay Vote
The sign outside the church would usually read St. Timothy Lutheran Church. But the word "Lutheran" has been covered over and now simply reads St. Timothy Church.
The minister of the Charleston, W.Va., church, the Rev. Richard Mahan, explained his actions to his congregation during service on Sunday.
"I asked that be done because I'm ashamed. I'm ashamed of what the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has done to a church I've loved for 40 years," he said.
Last week, ELCA's highest legislative body voted to lift the denomination's ban on noncelibate gay and lesbian clergy.
On Sunday, Mahan used his sermon to teach his congregants, which typically numbers 300 to 400 each Sunday, about homosexuality. He told them, "We welcome the sinner, but we do not welcome the sin. All are welcome, but the sin is not."
"We have always welcomed gays and lesbians to our church, but according to the word of God, we do not believe they are to be ordained," he said, according to the Charleston Daily Mail. "I am not speaking out against the gay and lesbian community, but I am speaking out against the ordination of gays and lesbians as pastors and bishops and leaders of the church - and the blessing of same-sex marriages."
Mahan's stance was widely supported by his congregation, who gave him a standing ovation during the service.
The pastor urged the congregation to pray about what they should do next in response to the vote. He reassured them, however, that nothing would change regarding the church's mission in the mean time.
"Let me assure you, nothing is going to change here at St Timothy. Jesus is still the same. The Bible is still the divinely inspired word of God."
Mahan believes that the vote will split the church and may see a number of individual congregations choose to abandon the ELCA.
Explaining his own convictions, he said, "I love everyone. I love all people. This is just completely contradictory to the word of God. I love homosexuals, have ministered to them, and had homosexuals in my congregation. Nowhere in the Bible does it say you can have same-sex marriage."