One of the largest and fastest-growing Lutheran congregations in Iowa will remain part of its national demonination — for now.
A clear majority of the members at St. Mark’s Lutheran in Marion voted this weekend to split from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America because the denomination has decided to ordain openly gay and lesbian pastors. But supporters of the break from the national church needed 66 percent of members of the Marion church to vote to finalize the split and just 60 percent did.
Sher Jasperse was among those who voted to remain part of the denomination. “There are many of us who are quietly rejoicing, but we’re very aware that we face a difficult time ahead at St. Mark’s,” she says. “We are still a divided church.”
Bill Jacobsen is among the members of the church who are disappointed by the outcome and he says the issue isn’t going away. “When 60 percent of your membership is voting to leave, it’s something you have to pay attention to,” Jacobsen says.
In 2009, the Evangelical Lutheran Church Assembly voted to allow openly gay and lesbian pastors to serve congregations. Individual churches like St. Mark’s that wish to split from the denomination must hold two separate votes to leave and both must pass with a two-thirds majority — 66 percent.
The North American Lutheran Church formed in August of 2010 and has become a home for more than 100 congregations that have split from the ELCA over the issue of ordaining openly gay pastors.