ELCA Bishop’s Celebration of Life Service Highlights his Activism for LGBTQIA Inclusion

A recent ‘Celebration of Life’ service for an ELCA pastor highlighted his promotion of LGBTQ inclusion within his denomination for decades, and not much else.

Late last year Lowell Erdahl, 90, passed away. A towering, long-time Bishop in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, he played an outside role in encouraging LGBTQ inclusion in his church, writing books, creating literature, and being an outspoken critic of any efforts to hang on to a biblical sexual ethic.

Before he passed, he wrote a book head ELCA Bishop Herbert Chilstrom entitled “Sexual Fulfillment: For Single and Married, Straight and Gay, Young and Old” in which both Lutheran leaders affirmed gay sex, and unrestrained masturbation. Former ELCA presiding Bishop Mark Hanson said in his eulogy:

“He was a towering figure because of his preaching, because of his courageous leadership for a more just world and for his advocacy, especially for persons who identified as LGBTQ+, to be fully welcomed into membership and leadership of the church.”

This was echoed by Bishop Patricia Lull of the ELCA’s St. Paul Area Synod, who shared “It wasn’t a popular identity for a pastor to be such an activist, but those were his deep, deep values and he lived them out in his day-to-day life.”

During the service, fellow impastors praised his love for all things gay multiple times, telling the congregation.

Brad and I were privileged to serve as his pastors and though Lowell many congregations and had his hearts in many communities. St. Michael’s Lutheran Church in Roseville was home to the Erdahl’s. And to be honest, our shared home feels quite different without him in it. We all learned from Lowell with his quiet, gentle presence, his profound wisdom, His integrity, in living and sharing the gospel, and his unending support for others, especially his pastors.

…Our very presence before you today, as a gay male pastor, as a female pastor, is evidence of the lifelong work that Lowell was dedicated to. Building a more just, a more inclusive and a more expansive church. Lowell was an advocate for women in ministry, and the champion for LGBTQIA inclusion in the church, despite the death threats or the harassment that he faced. All this because he as a leader, was willing to learn, or in some instances, to unlearn.

Lowell would often speak and write about his gratitude for LGBTQIA colleagues and friends, for those who were justice seekers, the peacemakers. Who were witnesses to him of the inclusive love of Christ. We believe we know that if it were not for the faithful, courageous leadership of Lowell that our callings in ministry would look very different

What a wretched thing to be known for after 70 years in the ministry.

h/t exposing the ERLC

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