MN churches' diverse reactions to Day 1 of same sex marriage

9:57 PM, Aug 1, 2013   |    comments
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MINNEAPOLIS - The day has arrived marking the legality of same sex marriage in Minnesota. And while there were hundreds of weddings conducted on the historic day, there were also, potentially, hundreds of churches across the state that have not developed a formal policy on the issue yet.

Shir Tikvah, a synagogue in Minneapolis, would not debate the issue. The Rabbi there has hit the ground running. "It's overwhelming and exciting and wonderful. For us, this is a long time coming," Rabbi Michael Adam Latz exclaimed. Latz, already married to Michael Simon, married several couples on day one, and had several more same sex weddings on the books in the weeks to come.

Shir Tikvah is a Reform Judaism congregation. Latz has been rallying for same sex marriage legislation for months and years. Meanwhile, the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations, in a statement following a recent DOMA ruling, "condemns the institutionalization of such relationships as marriage."

"The vast majority of Jews in America really support marriage equality. Certainly, there are people who disagree, and I think one of the things that this campaign showed us was that people of faith can disagree with each other and still break bread together," Rabbi Latz explained.

Similar conversations could be found in several of the 110 Episcopalian churches in Minnesota. "It's always a prayerful matter and it's a matter of conversation. It's not mandated that they do and it's not mandated that they don't. It's just very important that they talk about it amongst themselves and discern what's right for them," Canon Karen Olson, a Missioner for Ministry, said. It would be up to each individual congregation and its leadership team to decide how to proceed.

Olson didn't know what percentage of churches are still discussing their stance, but she did say that the state's largest congregation, St. Mark's in Minneapolis, was very involved in celebrating same sex marriages.

The same debate was playing out in many Evangelical Lutheran Church in America congregations of Minnesota. "There is no reason to arbitrarily rush to a decision. It became legal on August 1st, but if you need to take some more time to have some conversations, that's a good thing to do," Bishop Peter Rogness of the ELCA's St. Paul Synod said.

The church a hop, skip, and a jump away from the capitol where Governor Dayton signed same sex marriage into law was still undecided. Christ on Capitol Hill is waiting for a new leader, and thus, is waiting on making a final determination on same sex marriage. Overall, there are more than 1,000 ELCA congregations and more than 737,000 members in the state's faith community.

Bishop Rogness did say that the debate that played out across the political landscape seems to mirror the debate within the denomination. "There is a greater readiness to see this as an appropriate step in ministry in congregations that are in more metropolitan areas than in more rural areas. That's been true around these issues all along," he explained, noting the synods are not keeping tallies of the church's decisions.

The Catholic Church is not anticipating any changes on August 1st. The faith community will not split on the issue of same sex marriage. "It doesn't match up to the reality of what holy matrimony is. We believe everyone has a right to love, everyone has a right to happiness in life, but we believe there are deeper sources for that," Reverend Erich Rutten, the Ecumenical Officer for the local Archdiocese, said.

There are 739 Catholic congregations in Minnesota representing more than 1 million people of catholic faith across the state. Reverend Rutten says they plan to continue the conversation long after August 1st. "For us the conversation has not ended but that indeed, it's an opportunity for us to continue to teach why we view the sacrament of matrimony the way we do," he noted.

The conversation has concluded at the State Capitol, but it continues at many of the estimated 6,000 houses of worship throughout Minnesota.

A more complete list, compiled by Minnesota Public Radio, can be found by clicking on this link.

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