Texas's First (Openly) Gay Lutheran Pastor Speaks Out
The Lutheran church normally requires gay and lesbian clergy to take a vow of celibacy, but Groen refused. “I find that it’s a discriminatory policy and in principle I’m opposed to it,” she says. After completing her religious studies and training, Groen was placed on the national roster of pastors, sort of a jobs listings for pastors. “Grace Lutheran Church [of Houston] made the brave decision that when they were looking for a pastor they would not discriminate on sexual orientation…I am honored and, tickled, they chose me actually.”
Despite being the first openly gay Lutheran pastor in the state, Groen says making history wasn’t her goal.
“I don’t see myself on the cutting edge. My primary goal is to be the very best pastor that I can be. That’ said, I am opposed to this policy. I think it’s discriminatory. I’m not going to submit to it in anyway. I do, in the end, hope that the church changes.
“My decision is to be in ‘principled non-compliance’ Other people make other decisions. It’s true for me that the only way that I could do ministry effectively was to be honest and authentic about who I am. So I chose to do that in order to be the best pastor that I could be.”
Asked why she didn’t join a denominations that allows opening gay clergy, Groen says, “I thought about it, but the core of my theology is the very Lutheran idea of grace, the idea that it’s God’s saving action through Jesus is far more important than anything that we do. I’m a Lutheran. This is the church that I grew up in and the church that I love. This the church that I want to be a part of.”
How’s it been so far? “It’s a beautiful congregation and it is so amazing to be doing the work I have been training to do for five years.”
— Olivia Flores Alvarez