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Marriage Equality Push to Be at Center of Church's Community Festival

This weekend, members of a Lutheran church in Logan Square will be highlighting their ministry to the LGBTQ community and collecting signatures on a banner that they and others from the Logan Square community will be carrying to Springfield on October 22 to demand marriage equality. It puts the marriage equality push at the center of “The Boulevard,” the street festival St. Luke’s Logan Square sponsors each year.

“The Boulevard is one of the best festivals of the summer, with great bands and great food and drink,” said Noel Spain, a member of St. Luke’s, leader of the festival effort, and a leader in Chicago’s Bi/Queer Community. “This year, we’re adding segments to lift up the work that we and our partners in the Logan Square community are doing in the area of LGBTQ advocacy, youth empowerment, and issues of food insecurity, among others,” he added.

Rainbow stole and cross on a priest at Brighton and Hove Gay Pride Parade 2009“Marriage equality is an issue that many people at St. Luke’s are passionate about,” said the Rev. Erik Christensen, pastor at St. Luke’s. “We were at the assembly of the Metro Chicago Synod the day we learned that the Illinois assembly failed to act on marriage equality. On the same day that we saw our own denomination continue to make progress on full equality for all people — including passing a resolution on same-gender unions and the election of the first openly-gay bishop in the Southwest Synod of California, ELCA — it was a shock to see the ‘progressive’ political leaders of Illinois drop the ball.”

Christensen, Spain, and other members of St. Luke’s say they look forward to the October 22 convergence in Springfield by groups from around Illinois to demand marriage equality.

In a related development, the Chicago-based Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), of which St. Luke’s Logan Square is a member congregation, affirmed its commitment to ensuring pastoral care for same-gender couples and their families at its churchwide assembly in Pittsburgh at the beginning of the month.

The Boulevard program includes a presentation from the West Stage on Saturday at noon about St. Luke’s LGBTQ advocacy, which includes hosting the national office of Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries — which works to support publicly identified LGBTQ rostered leaders and seminarians and their ministries — as well as a monthly Queer Contra Dance group at its Logan Square location, and collaboration with other advocacy groups including the Chicago Coalition of Welcoming Churches, ReconcilingWorks, Inclusive and Affirming Ministries (South Africa), and Gay Liberation Network (GLN) Chicago.

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L1003708-LSWe were in Springfield on October 22 with thousands of other Illinoisans to encourage our state legislature to pass the marriage equality bill (SB10). Even if you weren’t there, you can get a sense of what it was like — raindrops and all! — thanks to the dozens of photos our friend Frank took. Enjoy!

(See Marriage Equality Is a Human Right)

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Comments (4)

  1. Joe


    Just wondering, I’m not interested in being in a relationship at the moment. I am gay. I have several regular sex partners who know up front that I’m not interested in a relationship. They feel the same way.

    Would you and your church consider what I am doing a sin or do you believe that only monogamous gay (and straight) relationships are appropriate, and therefore, not sinful?


    Joe B.

    • Reply


      Thanks for your comment. It’s a difficult one to answer, not because I don’t have thoughts on the topic, but because the question as you’ve framed it seems to make some assumptions that I don’t share. So, let me try to respond the best I can, and if that leaves you with more questions than answers, I’d be very happy to sit down for a face to face conversation.

      My first thought is to say that I don’t think of sin in the sort of categorical terms that divide behaviors into two columns, “sinful” and “non-sinful.” Sin, as I’ve come to understand it, is a way of describing the quality of relationships we’re having with ourselves, with one another, with Creation, with God. Sin describes systems of relating to one another that are violent and coercive (like racism or colonialism) that we had no say in, but were born into nonetheless. Sin describes harmful concepts or beliefs that we’ve come to hold about ourselves, often internalized before we had any understanding of what was happening (like internalized homophobia or heterosexism). Sin also describes the ways we intentionally and unintentionally harm ourselves and others.

      My second thought is to say that I don’t equate sinfulness with inappropriateness. There are all sorts of behaviors that were once thought inappropriate (like, being with someone of a different gender unaccompanied) that we would never call sinful.

      My third thought is to say that thinking someone is engaged in sinful behavior is neither the beginning or the end of my assessment of people. When Lutherans (the subset of Christianity of which I am a member) get together for worship we typically do one of two things: we either a.) all confess together that we’re a pack of sinners, or b.) all remember together that we were baptized into a community of perpetual forgiveness, reconciliation and renewal. We think the two are connected, in that it’s impossible to live in this world without sin (see above), so rather than denying sin as a part of human experience, we claim it so we can stop wasting our time and our lives feeling defined by it. If someone tells me I’m a sinner because I’m a gay man in a sexual relationship with another man I get pissed off mainly because that person thinks they can define my sin for me, but not because they’ve mistaken me for a sinner. I know I’m a sinner. There’s nothing newsworthy about that fact.

      So, my final thought for the moment would be to say, I don’t want people defining my sin for me any more than you probably want people defining your sin for you. I do, however, recognize that I have blinders on when it comes to my own sin. I willfully and unconsciously deceive myself all the time about what I’m up to in my life. That’s why I need a community of people who love me, who are with me in good times and in bad, who go drinking with me on Friday night, who worship with me on Sunday morning. These are the people I trust to say to me, “Erik, pardon me if I’m overstepping here, but I see you saying and doing things that don’t seem in line with your values as a person or your identity as a Christian.” When they say that to me, I get defensive, I get surly, I get a little snappy, but I take it to heart and I bring it to God in prayer to see if there are ways I need to make amends or reform my life.

      I don’t know you like that, and you don’t know me like that. So, I can’t imagine it would be helpful for me to make some kind of blanket, categorical statement about your life in a public forum like the internet. I will tell you that I hope you are surrounded my friends, family, or others who love you well, and who you trust to help you see past your own blind spots. For me, that community is the church, and it has made all the difference in my life. Above all else, I hope you know, or are open to hearing, that the one who created you (whatever name you do, or don’t, use understand that concept) loves you in unbreakable, enduring, trustworthy ways.

      Finally, I’d like to invite you an event we’re holding this coming Wednesday night here in Logan Square called “Heat, Hell, Passion” which will exploring the longstanding connections between people’s ideas about sin, hell, passion and their bodies. That event is part of a series called “De.Con.Struct” — an intentional effort to move beyond static definitions of faith and religion, and to explore what those words and ideas might mean for us here and now in an intentionally local, artistic and conversation way. You can learn more about the event at: We’ll be taking donations at that event for the Religious Institute, an interfaith organization working for healthy sex education and sexual justice. You can learn more about them at:


      • Joe


        You sound like a very kind, compassionate pastor. I’m sure your parishioners highly value that quality about you.

        What I think I hear you saying is that as long as I follow the Golden Rule and believe in a higher power, I’m ok. That sounds good to me.

        Wouldn’t it be better if we just dropped all the labels, “Christian”, “Jew”, “Muslim”, “Catholic”, “Lutheran” and we were all just humanists? It’s ok to believe in a Supreme Being, but let’s not give him or her a name. it only causes divisions when are all the same—human beings.

  2. Pingback: Saying “I’m for YOU!” at the Pride Parade | The Messenger

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