Visions and Expectations

Missing Body Parts
Pastor Vicki Pedersen is on a one year sabbatical to research LGBT church leaders, lay and ordained, who
have been publically or silently removed from the roster of the ELCA.
More information.

The ELCA's policy of expelling gay and lesbian partnered pastors has been in effect since the formation of the ELCA in 1988.  In 1990 a formal policy titled Visions and Expectations enshrined these words

"Ordained ministers who are homosexual in their self-understanding are expected to abstain from homosexual sexual relationships."

Since then, hundreds of pastors have been affected by this policy. Today Pastor Bradley Schmeling is undergoing his trial for pastoring while gay. 

Here you will find stories of others who have walked this journey.  Thank you to Pastor Paul Johnson for leading this effort.  These stories are told with the hopes of ending the churches current injustice toward partnered lesbian and gay pastors.  They deserve a wide readership.  Thanks for making these stories known to others.



Pastor Joyce Arnold:  "Your Love or Your Job."
Ordained: 1987:  Expelled:  1995
     In recognition of her excellent skills as a pastor, Joyce Arnold, received a request in 1994 from newly elected Bishop Ron Warren. "Will you serve as my assistant?" 
     For years Pastor Arnold had been serving as a "selectively out", celibate, lesbian pastor.  Having newly fallen in love with her partner, Pastor Arnold knew she would tell Bishop Warren of her partnership.  The reaction was swift; no conversation, just an ultimatum, "either resign or be removed from the roster." 
     As Pastor Arnold writes, "Now I knew what it felt like to be cast out."

Read the PDF Essay

Pastor Paul Johnson: 
Ordained 1974.  Expelled 1991
Since eighth grade, Paul's goal was to serve as an ELCA pastor. Here you will read Paul's arduous journey toward accepting his sexual identity, including self-denial, marriage to his wife, closeted questions, suicidal thoughts, expulsion from the ELCA, finding his partner David, and leaving the Lutheran church.

Read the Introductory PDF

Read the Full PDF Essay

Pastor Lars Clausen:
Ordained 1993
Heterosexual Lars got caught in the early anti-gay crossfire of the newly formed ELCA.  Because Lars and his wife Anne were engaged but not yet married, he was expelled from seminary until he could produce a marriage certificate. The story is told in Lars's most recent book, Straight Into Gay America, and is excerpted here.

Read the Online Excerpt