Dr. James Merritt’s Response to Karen Weldin

August 30, 2001

Ms. Karen Weldin
Director of Operations
Soulforce

Dear Karen:

First of all, please forgive me for not having responded to your letter before now. When I received your letter, I was out of town and then was gone the entire month of July and part of August out of the country and on vacation. I just got back into town and this is why I am now answering your letter.

Karen, with all due respect, let me get straight to the point. I have read your letter very carefully and am going to say some things in direct response to some of your assertions and statements.

First of all, you talk about being more "inclusive" in your beliefs and you said in your second letter "Jesus never advocated exclusivity." Nothing could be further from the truth. When Jesus said in John 14:6 "I am the way, the truth, and the life and no one comes to the Father unless he comes through me" that is probably the most exclusive statement ever made in the history of mankind.

Furthermore, He said in Luke 13:5, "Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish." In other words, it doesn’t matter what else you do or how well you do it; it doesn’t matter how sincere you are in what you believe; it doesn’t matter how religious or tolerant you are; if you do not repent, you will perish and spend eternity separated from God. I would call that extremely exclusive.

Concerning your psychologist at OBU, I virulently disagree with him that "all persons have homosexual tendencies and that given the right time and place they would surface." Quite frankly that is a statement without any foundation whatsoever and is pure speculation with no evidence to back it up whatsoever.

I must admit to you that I do write this with a broken heart. First of all, I write it with a broken heart for your mother. Your godly mother has told you the absolute truth and it is my prayer that you would listen to her and all the godly counsel that she is trying to provide for you.

You say that you "daily seek God’s will in your life." I have found in my own life that God’s will 99% of the time has already been revealed in His word. Karen, the cold hard fact is that no matter what you say, what psychologists say, or what others say, the Bible is unequivocally clear – homosexuality is a sin just as much as fornication, adultery, incest, or bestiality. There are lots of other sinners in the world who have "come to the point of reconciliation with their sin." That does not make it right.

I do believe that Jesus is weeping – weeping over the fact that you have rejected His word, turned away from the clear truth of the Bible, and are now engaged in a sinful lifestyle. I want you to know that I say this in love but I say it with all the conviction in my heart.

Therefore, in short, there is no need for us to meet. I can assure you that nothing you will say is going to change my mind and I am sure the same would be true in reverse. Obviously, you and Soulforce and others are welcome to come to St. Louis and I hope you will find that, as in New Orleans, our messengers will treat you with kindness and with love. Nevertheless, there will be no meeting between us but a prayer on my part that God will bring you to a place of repentance and that you will turn back to His will for your life.

Sincerely,

James Merritt

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Dr. James Merritt’s Response to Mel White

August 30, 2001

Dr. Mel White
Executive Director
Soulforce, Inc.
P.O. Box 4467
Laguna Beach, CA 92652

Dear Dr. White:

I also want to thank you for you letter. Please forgive me for not having responded before now. I was out of town and then gone the entire month of July and part of August out of the country and on vacation. I want to be kind in my response to you, but by necessity, must also be both firm and pointed.

I purposely and willfully use the term "sexual preference." There is nothing at all misleading about that term. You use the word "demean" repeatedly in your letter. I believe (and so do many people of ethnicity and color) that it is demeaning to other minorities for you to try to categorize homosexuality in the same way we categorize black people or Jewish people. The bottom line is it is not a sin to be born black, female, or Jewish. It is a sin to choose homosexuality as a lifestyle contrary to God’s Word.

You state sexual orientation is supported by all scientific research, which is patently and absolutely untrue. Indeed, Robert L. Spitzer recently told a meeting of the American Psychiatric Association, "like most psychiatrists I thought homosexual behavior could only be resisted and that no one could really change their sexual orientation. I now believe that to be false." The fact of the matter is in my own ministry I have seen homosexuals change, in fact we have former homosexuals as members of our church even now.

So again, let me tell you once and for all that I will never ever accept any designation of homosexuality in the same class as Jews, women, blacks, etc. To do so would be to accept a patent falsehood and that I will never do.

Furthermore, you did indeed issue me an ultimatum. Once you use the work "if" whatever you say after that becomes an ultimatum. Again, I will never respond to such.

Let me emphasize that your vigils were polite and your materials were not in any way obscene. Your civil disobedience was conducted with respect and I thing you can say that our messengers responded in kind. In fact, the New Orleans police responded to me on several occasions of how pleasantly surprised they were to see how our messengers treated you. I repeatedly encouraged our messengers to be gracious and kind to you at all times.

Dr. White, the scripture is plain – homosexuality, just like adultery, fornication, etc. is sinful. No amount of hermeneutical gymnastics on your part will change that fact nor will any so-called "scientific, psychological, historical, or even pastoral" evidence change the fact either.

I want you to know that I love you. I do abhor all violence against anyone regardless of his or her race, color, or sexual preference. That is also true of Southern Baptists as a whole.

At the same time, I am commanded to "speak the truth to you in love." The truth is that by the power of God you can repent of your sinful lifestyle. I pray that you will do so.

There will be no blue ribbon committee appointed by me. We as a convention decided a long time ago there is no need to debate what God himself has settled in His Word.

I can never accept that homosexuality is "just another variation of God’s mysterious creation," and you clearly disagree. Since our respective beliefs and views are irreconcilable I don’t intend to engage in a further exchange of correspondence or dialogue on this subject, though I remain open and available to talk with you about other spiritual or personal matters.

Please know again that I love you and the Lord Jesus Christ and pray that you will come back to a knowledge of the truth and a true relationship with God.

Sincerely,

James Merritt

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Karen Weldin Letter to Dr. James Merritt, President, Southern Baptist Convention

August 28, 2001

Dr. James Merritt, President
Southern Baptist Convention
First Baptist Snellville
PO Box 647
Snellville, GA 30078

Dear Dr. Merritt,

I certainly do hope you have received the last two letters I have written to you. I wrote to you on June 25th and July 28th. This is now the third letter I am writing to you asking for an opportunity to sit down and talk with you.

I have enclosed in this letter a note from a Soulforce delegate in New Orleans this past June. This is a note that was placed in the coffin that we wanted to present to you and the rest of the Southern Baptist Executive Committee Board members. It tells the story of the sad reality in many Southern Baptist churches today. It is the story of a gentleman who attended an adult Sunday School class in a Baptist church for nearly fifty years with the knowledge that among the fifteen couples there were seven gay or lesbian sons and daughters, a gay brother and a gay nephew. Yet, they did not talk about this.

Brother Merritt, this is the sad tragedy and reality in our churches. There are gays and lesbians, family members and friends sitting in the pews of thousands of Southern Baptist churches and no one ones to talk to each other. The silence is killing lives, turning young people away from the church, and demonizing what God has created. We must come to the table together and talk about reality. We must find a way to communicate with one another and find a third position that advocates love and acceptance of our sisters and brothers. Please stop ignoring me and the reality that there is a crisis in the church that must be addressed.

I am pleading with you to acknowledge my correspondence with you. I am pleading with you to agree to sit down at the table together and trust God to lead us in the beginning of dialogue with one another.

The Southern Baptist Convention is the largest protestant denomination in the United States. You could be leading the way in Christ’s example with gays and lesbians. For too long churches have been the last ones to realize the amazing grace of God. The God of my understanding is not a static God. We are ever growing and deepening in our understanding of what it means to live out the gospel. Let us come together with our common beliefs in Jesus Christ, living out the gospel, and reaching all of humanity and work towards a position that is satisfying to God and to each of us.

Once again, I wait for your call and your letter. I am praying you will be led by your commitment and dedication to know the Truth and to seek God’s will in this matter.

Your sister in Christ,

Karen Weldin

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Soulforce Takes Steps into the Future

"Core Leadership Team" takes on day to day operations of Soulforce, Inc.

August 24, 2001

Dear Soulforce Supporters:

In the last Soulforce email alert, you learned that Soulforce is intensifying our efforts to transform hearts and minds through dialogue and negotiations with our adversaries.

This alert is to inform you about something that is equally as exciting: Soulforce, Inc. has taken a major organizational step and formed "The Core Leadership Team" to manage the day to day operations of Soulforce, Inc.

Many, many, volunteers are needed to make the work of Soulforce happen, and the work each of you do is vitally important. Yet, there was a need to take the huge organizational leap and lift Soulforce to the next level by forming a team of people who would take on the work of making the organization run effectively on a daily basis.

This team still consists of Mel White, Executive Director of Soulforce, Inc., and Gary Nixon, Financial Director of Soulforce, Inc. However, several people have been added to the team.

  • Karen Weldin was named Director of Operations, and is responsible for managing the day-by-day operations of Soulforce, Inc.

  • Bill Carpenter, Planning and Logistics Coordinator, is responsible for the continuous advance logistical planning, setup and on site management of direct actions and other ongoing events conducted by Soulforce, Inc.

  • Kara Speltz, Administrative Coordinator, handles all incoming email, disbursing to others where appropriate and answering those that are not the responsibility of others.

  • Diana Westbrook, Publications and Curriculum Coordinator, works with the Executive Director and Director of Operations to develop and produce Soulforce publications.

  • Laura Montgomery Rutt, Media and Public Relations Coordinator, is responsible for keeping Soulforce in the news, by acting as spokesperson and writing and distributing press releases and email alerts.

Each person is receiving a very small stipend for a tremendous amount of work on Soulforce’s behalf to keep it functioning as a vital organization. Additionally, one of the gifts such a Team offers is the opportunity for Mel to have a more closely knit working group with which to develop strategy. He’s not had this before.

In addition to forming the Core Leadership Team, the mission statement has been streamlined: "Soulforce is an interfaith movement committed to ending spiritual violence perpetrated by religious teachings and actions against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people."

As we take these exciting steps, we are looking forward to your continued involvement in Soulforce, as we look ahead to the next major direct action in St Louis, MO on June 7-11, 2002 at the Southern Baptist Convention.

We also need you to be part of local negotiations by continuing the dialogue you started with clergy, bishops, and leaders at the local and regional levels across the United States. If you are interested in initiating negotiations with a leader in your local area, contact localgroups@soulforce.org.

You also have the opportunity to hear Mel White during lectures all across the United States. Please consult our web page for dates and locations.

Thank you for your commitment to the cause and for your continued support of Soulforce and the principles of non-violence. Don’t forget that keeping up with our amazing growth also requires money. Our budget for 2001 is just $250,000 (what Pat Robertson has to raise every 12 hours). Remember, you can give online. Your gifts are tax-deductible and will help Soulforce continue its strategic work against Spiritual Violence.

Mel White, Executive Director
Karen Weldin, Director of Operations
Jimmy Creech, Board Chair

PS. Your work is vitally important, and so much is happening. Keep watching the web site and continue looking for updates about our actions to move the dialogues forward.

Experiences of Indianapolis

Several people have sent their experience of Indianapolis to us and we’d like to share them with you:

August 18, 2001

Several people have sent their experience of Indianapolis to us and we’d like to share them with you:

Greetings!

I was not in Indianapolis. My 16 year old son, who is the president of our synod’s youth organization, was.

He also got involved with many of you and with Soulforce.

I picked Jadon up at the airport last night and we had an incredible two-hour drive home.

All he wanted to talk about was his involvement with Soulforce people, the church’s actions, and the activities he had been included in.

I want to thank Jayne, Jane, Anita, Jeff, and others who made him welcome and included. Just a few months ago he, and his 14 year old brother were viciously, verbally attacked at our own congregation after standing up to an elderly man who had made a hateful statement about glbt members in our congregation.

His dedication to this (using Sitler’s phrase) cantus firmus cause in our church was strengthened and revitalized by your inclusion and by what he considers, the church’s "wishy-washy" and "cowardly" actions.

I still don’t know what he did at the meetings he went there for (SCYCLOPS?!?!). But his faith continues to be strengthened as it was stretched by those of you who do theology rather than simply read it.

I remember back thirty plus years ago growing up in a tiny, grape-growing town the San Joaquin Valley in California. One afternoon I was picketing a supermarket in my hometown, along with other folks who followed Chavez in attempting to bring an end to the inhuman farm labor practices. As I was being harassed by one of the farmers from my home parish, the Roman Catholic campus pastor at Fresno State, Monsignor Negro, stepped up beside me and silently waked at my side for the rest of the afternoon. While walking the road on which the Gospel called him, he walked with me on mine.

In my mind and heart, you honor Fr. Negro, and all who walk the path of the Gospel (and just so happened to walk with my son). Thank you for showing him that the web of action, concern and love spans beyond towns, states, nations, congregations, and denominations. Thank you for sharing your faith with him, and allowing him to act out his faith in Indianapolis with you.

Shalom

Chris Berry

Rev. Christopher D. Berry


RESIST! RESIST! RESIST!
My Lutheran Soulforce Story – Cindy Hadden / Seattle, WA

Once again, members of Soulforce gathered from around the country in Indianapolis to bring "truth in love" this time to the ELCA (Lutheran) Conference.

Primarily we went to assist the Lutheran Alliance for Full Participation in the hope that they would vote to allow openly gay people to become pastors. The alliance is made up of five internal Lutheran groups.

They are Anita Hill’s WINGSPAN MINISTRY(wingspan@aol.com), LUTHERANS CONCERNED (LuthConc@aol.com), LUTHERAN LESBIAN AND GAY MINISTRIES (LLGM123@aol.com), EXTRAORDINARY CANDIDACY PROJECT (excp@dnai.com), and THE NETWORK FOR INCLUSIVE VISION (network178@aol.com). I have never met a more loving, powerful & gifted resistance group as this. Together we trained in Soulforce principals, the signing of Martin Luther King’s pledge to non-violence and stood vigils in numbers of 200 or more. WOW!

As always, we respond to what is going on in the conferences around the country. This means "our agenda" for the day is continually subject to change. I have mentioned before in my stories of our Soulforce Journey since meeting Jerry Falwell in Oct. 1999 that Soulforce is a very fluid group. To "be"that (with a right and humble spirit) is testing, and true to past national Soulforce actions, this Soulforce/Lutheran Alliance Action understood that important component and we were "one."

On Friday and Saturday, Fred Phelps’ group showed up to do their part in God’s plan by showing the violence our community faces. One from that group was arrested Saturday. This time they were greater in numbers and they were louder, driving quickly up toward us as we marched to and from the vigil site, screaming and threatening as if to run us over. As people attending the conference and those on the city streets realized what Soulforce was doing there, they would come up to us and thank us. A man came up to me with a check in his hand so his group could give us a donation. A taxi driver drove up to me and asked if I had a bumper sticker or something so he could show the city his support of us. On Sunday Aug. 12th, we were invited into the Convention Center to attend service. A Presbyterian Pastor preached. In two’s we sat amongst them worshiping God and taking communion with them. We changed hearts and minds. The youth choir came from California and were key to the feeling of unity at the moment. They were so supportive. I gave many of them the traditional Soulforce cross necklaces that Seattle’s Jeaneanne Hill is so gracious to make and hand out at all our actions. One woman and young girl followed me out, tapping me on the shoulder to ask if I had just one more cross for the young girl who was also in the choir. I took off the one I was wearing and the smiles and interaction was life changing.

On Monday August 13, we stood in silent vigil from 7:30 am to about 12:30 pm, then marched to a press conference. Much time was spent inside the conference to "change" or "postpone" these issues on the agenda during the course of 3 days. At about 10:00 am Monday morning we got news that the "right" wanted again to change the agenda and talk about civil unions or marriage. Our focus was on ordination or gay pastors and this tactic was internally used to help confuse the issue of gay ordination and gays in the church. As a result, Lutherans decided for the THIRD TIME, to incorporate a 4 year study on us. As Bishops, Pastors, Visitors and the like left the conference weeping, they re-joined our vigil line and we wept together at the news. My new friend, Greg Egertson (co-chairman of Lutheran Lesbian and Gay Ministries in San Francisco) announced: "The Church still wants to treat us as an issue, instead of as real people. They want to talk about us, not with us. There has NEVER been a "study" as voted on at previous Lutheran conferences. When reporters pressed the newly appointed by 51% Bishop Hanson (an ally) what previous studies have shown, what this new study needs show, (what are they missing) he humbly fumbled in providing solid answers.

Gandhi said that direct action must only be taken when all negotiations have failed. We held a press conference, only to see the reporters, policeman and women, and others weeping as we taught truth. We knelt on the sidewalks and refused to obey an officer to leave. Forty eight were arrested.

Voting once more to study us was the WORST thing the Lutherans could have done. It serves only to postpone the decision that all churches face today: "Ordain us and Bless our Unions." While we all believed that the "train has left the station" on this issue from within the Lutheran Church, many of us also believed that we WILL NOT BUY INTO THIS "STUDY", but we will teach others, and we will STEP UP THE RESISTANCE. Also remembering not to support our churches our with tithes, offerings and gifts that contribute to suffering via law and bi-law language in the churches.

I asked my new Lutheran Alliance friends to consider keeping 3 of their 5 groups working in the Lutheran Church and to give up 2 of them to find a home in 2 other denominations to teach resistance.

Soulforce made many new friends and allies in Indianapolis. Dozens of Lutheran allies have promised to support us at the upcoming June 2002 Southern Baptist Conference.

United we stand in resistance and love. Watch the website often and come join us or help us with a donation to do justice work. www.soulforce.org

Cindy Hadden
WA/Seattle Soulforce Contact
Articyn@aol.com


8/15/2001

Hey all,

I have not been online for the last several days – since leaving for Indianapolis so I am not sure what discussion has ensued. So what follows are my first attempt to put into writing the amazing experience soulforce and the lutheran alliance just had. I am not sure what effect we had on the ELCA at large, but I do know that it was a powerful experience for us and for most of those to whom we spoke.

Thursday night the soulforce and Lutheran Alliance Leadership team met with Joe Wagner, Joanne Chadwick, and Charles Miller – Daphne correct me if I have missed anyone. While I was not there, it was clear that the meeting was more productive than most in the past and the fact that Joe would meet is something. I understand that Joanne Chadwick was largely responsible for making it happen from the ELCA side. I am not sure what to tone was at first but Mel came in with tootsie pops and most everyone took one – it is just hard to be all that contentious while trying to get to the chocolatey center of a tootsie pop.

Obviously since you have received the press releases you are aware of some of the discussion and outcomes. I am certainly disappointed at the maneuverer to recommend ‘study’ – and soulforce/alliance had a strong response to this between the press conference and act of civil disobedience. But between Thursday night and Monday afternoon so much good happened!

We stood vigil everyday, inside and out. We were told both by allies on the inside and those we didn’t know that our presence was powerful, needed and helped some understand the urgency obviously not everybody yet gets that with each study, time and lives are literally lost. But I think there are many within the ELCA who are almost as tired of and no longer willing to wait. So, I am reasonably sure that the tide has turned.

We stood with many vigilers and others wearing stoles from the stoles project. I stood next to Mel White the first morning and he received a stole that happened to be the one representing the Action for Reconciliating Ministry. It was moving to see so many familiar names – and some unfamiliar ones.

It was also moving to see Anita enter the assembly each day as a delegate (the censure for St. Paul-Ref doesn’t begin until September 1st which allowed Anita to participate as a delegate as elected – this kind of flexibility leads me to believe electing Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson is a hopeful thing)accompanied by Jayne Thompson who wore one of my stoles. Both were tireless in their work.

We were also invited to join the assembly for worship on Sunday and all who could attend did. That was powerful and I have not felt so welcome in a lutheran setting (outside of St. Paul Ref & Pr. Hill’s ordination) than I have since my removal. Many of us felt anger, in some cases, hatred and pain melt away. That was incredibly healing. It does not excuse past action but is freeing. It is so much more productive to attempt to hold people and institutions responsible when it is done in love rather than anger. Soulforce prepares, supports and demands this approach.

All of this, of course made the tabling and other delays distressing and of course the decision on Monday. So many still think that the vote to study is progress. It is not. I hope the civil disobedience made that clear. I certainly do not take being arrested lightly -nor did anyone but anything that can make clear that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people continue to pay the price for delay is worth the expense, discomfort and potential for subjecting ourselves to violence.

This is not to suggest police violence -they were respectful and quite frankly concerned for our safety. Of course the Phelps contingent was there but also an incredibly virulent group from Tennessee connected to the militia. The police had real concerns for our safety.

On a personal note, 24 hours earlier, I had reconciled myself to not being arrested because I couldn’t afford it. Miraculously, the money came through.

It is weird because the reason I wanted to be arrested was because I experienced a renewed love of the lutheran church. It is not my church any more but it is the church that raised me and planted so many of these ideas and so I still mourn when it makes decisions that are not life giving to itself or any members whether queer or straight. I am convinced the folks of the Alliance will be fine and continue to be strong but each delay eats at the heart of the church.

Probably the most powerful moments were kneeling in prayer and song. As I was arrested we were singing ‘The Church’s One Foundation’. Many non-lutherans in soulforce were not aware of its significance in the movement for justice but I am certainly grateful for those who sang it before.

The decision of the assembly is not as decisive as that one was but has much the same effect. For those who choose to respect it, I hope there is a way to hold the powers charged with this study accountable – as former Bishop Egertson intends to do- the next four years could be an incredibly rich time -with groups like the ECP and llgm continuing to move forward with an increasing number of supporters and participants AND MAKE the study positive. Based on the past call for study, it is hard for me to take it in good faith and believe this kind of attention is the only way anything substantive will occur.

I think of the way groups in Kansas City responded to the Charter School movement -they developed progressive alternative schools that can really serve the community. The same thing can happen here -and at least there is a budget for this work and a direction -not just to study same sex relationships but to develop a plan for lifting the ban.

So those are my ramblings on the event. And here is an event to put on your calendar: June 11 & 12 or there abouts – the Southern Baptist Convention meets in St. Louis. It is the next scheduled Soulforce action and I really hope all of you will prayerfully consider participating. The soulforce principles and community have been incredibly enriching and I think are a key to making lasting change. If you can’t attend, please check the website regularly because there are other ways to participate in this movement in meaningful ways.

Jane

50 Soulforce Protesters Arrested at ELCA Churchwide Assembly in Indianapolis

Restrictions against Gay and Lesbian People Called to Ministry Left in Place during 4 Year Study Period

Soulforce Press Release
For Immediate Release
Contact: Laura Montgomery Rutt
Cell: 717-951-7712 soulforcemedia@aol.com

Indianapolis, IN – Fifty people were arrested yesterday during a civil disobedience outside the Indianapolis Convention Center at the Evangelical Church in America Churchwide Assembly. The protesters were disheartened because a ban requiring gay clergy to vow celibacy in the ELCA will remain in place while the church studies the issue for four more years.

Indiana ActionThose arrested were supporters of Soulforce, an interfaith movement committed to ending spiritual violence perpetuated by religious policies and teachings against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people. Soulforce was working in cooperation with the Lutheran Alliance for Full Participation, which includes The Network for Inclusive Vision, Wingspan, Extraordinary Candidacy Project, Lutheran Lesbian and Gay Ministries, and Lutherans Concerned/North America.

"I am greatly saddened that our church has voted not to end the suffering caused by this tragic policy of discrimination and is delaying full participation of gays and lesbians," said The Rev. Jeff Johnson, who was among the first openly gay Lutheran pastors to be "irregularly" ordained in violation of the official policy of discrimination. "As a gay man, I am tired of being studied. It is time for our church to take action to end this spiritual violence against God’s children."

ELCA policy demands that gay/lesbian individuals vow celibacy in order to be eligible for ordained ministry. Those who refuse to lie about their significant relationships or who renounce a vow of celibacy are excluded from official consideration for ministry within the ELCA. Currently, 27 clergy/candidates have refused to pledge celibacy.

After it became obvious that the church was not going to change this policy, 150 people who were vigiling outside the convention center proceeded to a nearby park and held a press conference. After the press conference, protesters got on their knees on a sidewalk in front of the convention center. Police ordered protesters to stop blocking the sidewalk on which they were kneeling for prayer. After 3 warnings, a large group of protesters remained. Arrestees were charged with failing to obey a police order (to disperse), fined $100 then released.

Those arrested included Rev. Johnson; Bishop Emeritus Paul W. Egertson, who resigned from the office of Bishop last month a consequence of participation in the irregular ordination a lesbian pastor in a committed relationship; Rev. Jimmy Creech, a former United Methodist minister who was defrocked for performing a holy union for two men; Jacob Reitan, a 19-year old openly gay Lutheran youth, and his parents Randi and Phil from Eden Prarie Minnesota; Robert and Jeannie Graetz, a couple who stood with Martin Luther King during the Montgomery Bus Boycotts; and Rev. Mel White, co-founder and Executive Director of Soulforce.

"We had hoped that our presence at the Churchwide Assembly would end up being a celebration that justice has been done at last," said Rev. Mel White. "Instead, our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters are being denied the opportunity to serve the church in the capacity they have been called. We pray that their continued study will prove to the leaders of the ELCA what we already know, that God loves gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people just the way they are and they are ready for ministry now!"

Indianapolis Photos: August 13, 2001 (2 of 2)


Lutheran Pastor Bob Graetz leads the banner crew

Kneeling during the civil disobedience

The police tell us to move.

Maintaining the Vigil line outside the Convention Center

The civil disobedience outside the Convention Center

Members of the Lutheran Alliance for Full Participation look on in support

Being arrested

Mel White is arrested

Randhi Reitan is arrested

Angie is arrested

Jeaneane Hill is arrested

Jake Reitan is arrested

Karen Weldin is arrested

Indianapolis Photos: August 12, 2001 (2 of 2)


Soulforcees join ELCA in worship Sunday morning

"Soulforce salutes ELCA S/heroes" celebration

Dr. Mari Irvin, co-chair of the Alliance for Full Participation

Judy Osborne, our Registrar, and Mel White

Our Wittenburg Doors

Indianapolis Womens Chorus

Bob & Jeannie Graetz receive the "Courageous Couples" award from Karen Weldin and Mel White

Indivisable Mens Chorus