December 13, 2010

UniLu’s Wiesner Recieved to Clergy Roster

Clergy and members of University Lutheran, Philadelphia, applaud the Rev. Jay A. Wiesner after a rite of reception to the ELCA roster led by Bishop Claire S. Burkat.  (Photo: Bob Fisher/SEPA)

In a low-key Advent celebration, the Rev. Jay A. Wiesner of University Lutheran Church of the Incarnation (UniLu) was received on the clergy roster of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Clergy including several former UniLu pastors, members of the congregation and friends surrounded Pastor Wiesner as Bishop Claire S. Burkat officiated at the rite of reception.  Wiesner was called to UniLu in 2008 after serving Bethany Lutheran in Minneapolis since his ordination in 2004.

Wiesner is one of two pastors approved for rostering by the synod’s candidacy committee under new ministry standards enacted in light of the denomination’s 2009 decisions on sexuality.  The Rev. Stephen Keiser of the Lutheran Church of the Holy Communion in Center City will be received Jan 2.

Pastor Wiesner in prayer prior to the rite of reception. (Photo: Bob Fisher/SEPA)

“Thank God you did not give up, when you could have,” the Bishop said to Wiesner, referring to the long process he and others have experienced when the call they perceived from God was not recognized by their church.  “Your faith and your perseverance have been multiplied by God” through this journey, she said.

Wiesner thanked the bishop and the Rev. Patricia Davenport, assistant for city conferences, for the grace with which he and UniLu were treated during the process of calling a pastor on the roster of Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries but not the ELCA and after his election as dean of the Central Philadelphia Conference last year.

“I really need to thank the people of Bethany and UniLu for taking a chance on me and sticking your necks out for this,” Wiesner said.

Worshippers spilled out into the aisles to join clergy in laying hands on Pastor Wiesner during the rite of reception. (Photo: Bob Fisher/SEPA)

In the sermon, Ross Murray noted the resonance between the themes of the day’s Advent texts and the service signaling that “the reconciliation between the Church and all who want to live out their calling within it seems to be at hand.”

Murray, a longtime friend of Wiesner’s who stepped in at the last minute when the Rev. Anita Hill of St. Paul Reformation Lutheran Church was snowed in in Minneapolis, cautioned that this day was a step forward but not a destination.

“Today we get to witness the reconciliation of Jay’s call from God and his call from the church, and we should celebrate that,” he said.

“But the brokenness of the world requires more than Jay, more than you, or me.  Christ is the one we are waiting for.”