At Saturday night’s More Light Presbyterian (MLP) National Celebration Dinner at the 219th General Assembly (2010), Ross Murray, interim executive director for Lutherans Concerned/North America, issued reassurance to all dinner attendees: “One year ago, we, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), were meeting in this very place discussing the same issues [on homosexuality] when tornados and lightning struck and we knew we weren’t in Kansas anymore. Well, there was no little man hiding behind a curtain to help us … it’s been a year for us, and we are praying for you as you go through this process.”
The program that followed rallied support to face that storm head-on.
In his address to attendees at the dinner, Michael Adee, MLP executive director and a former college professor, recalled that in the 1990s, “Homosexuality [in the church] was greeted with either silence or hostility … from there the church began debating, voting and studying and we’re still debating, voting and studying.”
Keynote speaker the Rev. Rebecca Voelkel, director of the Institute for Welcoming Resources, told of a traditional Jewish story about how God’s world is destroyed and that it takes all of God’s people to rebuild it. She related that story to the state of the Presbyterian church today. “The church is falling apart and it is only by acceptance and all of us working together that we can rebuild it,” said Voelkel.
“How desperately we need a church whose people can say that ours is a church where all people are accepted in love,” she concluded.
The award ceremony highlighted national support for MLP churches. The Rev. Jean Southard was awarded the Rev. David Sindt Leadership Award for her nationwide efforts in raising awareness of the necessity of MLP churches.
St. Luke Presbyterian Church in Wayzata, Minn., was awarded Outstanding More Light Church. The Rev. Gwin Pratt, pastor, proudly recalled that in 1988, St. Luke’s was referred to as “irregular,” and said, “We plan to stay that way.”
The Outstanding MLP Chapter award was given to Open Doors More Light Chapter in Washington, D.C. Accepting the award was the Rev. Jean Mackenzie.