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Pastor Roger W. Rapp of the St. Paul Lutheran Church agrees that it is important to listen to differing opinions. And local congregations always have been open to all people, regardless of lifestyle choices.
"We in the Lutheran church are really trying hard to be respectful of differing opinions, and in the respect of differing opinions, we grow and journey together," Rapp said.
"We live together in a very opinionated church. If we stay together, we are more likely to avoid a split and learn from those who differ from us."
Rapp added that there are many Evangelical Lutheran Church of America churches that say all are welcome.
"(They) state openly that all are welcome, regardless of race, gender or sexual orientation," he said. "As far as local congregations, we've always been open to all people. People are people."
But although local Lutheran congregations appear open to the same-gender relationship issue, at least one other local congregation disagrees.
The Rev. Hume W. "Skip" Reeves of The Church of St. Peter, Apostle and Confessor says the debate will split the Lutheran church apart.
Reeves was a former member of St. Mark's Episcopal here before splitting to form The Church of St. Peter last year, separating from the Episcopal Church.
The split was in large part due to the same issue: allowing same-gender relationships within church leadership.
"I was hoping that they would kind of learn a lesson from the Episcopal Church," Reeves said. "The church has conformed itself to the culture instead of trying to reform the culture into the vision of God's culture.
"It looks like they're moving in the same direction that the Episcopalian church did. They'll pay a huge price for that."
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