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Gay Pastor's Odyssey
Aug 29, 2006

This week reminds me that stories are sacred.  
Pastor Paul Johnson found Straight Into Gay America and after conversation he offered his story as a public effort to help raise our awareness and end church injustice toward LGBT people.  I've spent this past week compiling his stories to share with you and with as many people as possible. 

The Full Story - PDF

Introduction - PDF

Deeply moved.
Paul Johnson is a pastoral elder.  He's sixty years old and been ordained for more than three decades. If you read his story and find yourself as deeply moved as me, perhaps you'll join me in believing that Paul's story needs a thorough reading by as many people as possible.

Perhaps you'll scour your list of contacts and share this gift.  Perhaps together, as we learn the damage done by expelling gay and lesbian pastors from ministry, together we'll say NO MORE.  Perhaps Pastor Bradley Schmeling who is currently on trial by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America can continue to serve his parish while keeping his commitment to his partner Darin. 

Victims Of Visions and Expectations:
Essays by Pastors Expelled
from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

 Essay Number One
Pastor Paul Johnson
Edited by Lars Clausen

  • Pastor Paul JohnsonToday, in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), Pastor Bradley Schmeling is on trial for pastoring while gay.  If convicted, he will be removed from the ELCA roster of pastors.
  • Fifteen years ago Pastor Paul Johnson was serving as assistant to the bishop of the LaCrosse Area Synod. When he was outed as a gay man he was expelled from his position as an ELCA pastor.

To help Pastor Bradly Schmeling and to help end the ELCA's injustice,  Pastor Paul Johnson is today sharing his story with churches and church members across our country. Please pass it on.

Paul Johnson knew already as an eighth grader that he was called to be a minister. In his story, Paul provides details of his arduous journey toward accepting his sexual identity, including self-denial, marriage to his wife, closeted questions, suicidal thoughts, expulsion from the ELCA, finding his partner David, and leaving the Lutheran church.  On the thirtieth anniversary of Paul's ordination, 11 years after being forced to resign, Paul wrote.

"I am sad that church leaders mostly see this as a problem for gay and lesbian people.  It is really the church's problem.  Anytime the church alienates and excludes a large number of people it has a very big problem.  I am sad that the church hasn't yet recognized that.

"I am glad for the people in groups like the Extraordinary Candidacy Committee who look for calls for gay and lesbian people and boldly challenge the church.  And sometimes I am sad that I don't have the energy to fight in that way for my call.

"Thirty years ago today I was ordained as a Lutheran pastor.  The church has said "no" to my ordination, but God has not.  And I still think of myself as a Lutheran pastor.  But there will be no celebration today, and I am very sad!"

Read Pastor Paul Johnson's story. 
(Available online and as PDF download)

Thank you for sharing this story with others.

August 29, 2006
Lars C. Clausen - Author
Straight Into Gay America: My Unicycle Journey for Equal Rights

Easy way to share:
Copy the tan table above, paste it into your HTML email and send it to friends (Make sure your email is set to HTML style (not plain text)).

The Full Story - PDF

Introduction - PDF

Here's the page where Paul Johnson's story is listed and where you send friends to read his story:

How about printing out Paul Johnson's story and sharing it at church if you attend a place of worship?




September 15:
Lars Clausen speaking to the Washington D.C. Chapter of Lutherans Concerned North America.  Thank you Robert Joppa for organizing

September 16:
Lars Clausen unicycling in the Aliquippa, Pennsylvania annual parade and visiting the Community of Celebration ( .  Thank you Robert Moore for organizing.

September 17:
Lars Clausen speaking at Marriage Equality gathering in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  Thank you Diana Elmendorf for organizing.

September 20:
Chelan, Washington.  Dotti Berry and Roby Sapp conclude their GAY INTO STRAIGHT AMERICA year of travel at Riverwalk Books in Chelan.  Thanks to Libby Manthey for organizing.  Event details.



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