December 7, 2010
The Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) will receive two pastors onto its roster of ordained ministers in upcoming congregational ceremonies.
The Rev. Jay A. Wiesner of University Lutheran Church of the Incarnation (UniLu) and the Rev. Stephen Keiser of the Lutheran Church of the Holy Communion, both in Center City, will be received as a result of ministry policy changes by the 2009 Churchwide Assembly.
Pastors Wiesner and Keiser have served on the roster of Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries (ELM) and were approved for reception onto the ELCA roster by the Synod Candidacy Committee on Nov. 13. ELM is an organization that credentials qualified candidates of all sexual orientations and gender identities for ordained ministry.
Bishop Claire S. Burkat will officiate at rites of reception for both pastors. Pastor Wiesner will be received in a service at UniLu (3637 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia) on Sunday, Dec. 12 at 10:30 a.m., with the Rev. Anita Hill of St. Paul Reformation Lutheran Church, St. Paul, MN, preaching. Pastor Keiser will be received in a service at Holy Communion (2110 Chestnut Street) on Sunday, Jan. 2, 2011 at 11 a.m. Bishop Burkat will preach at this service.
“Clearly Pastor Keiser and Pastor Wiesner are blessed with the spiritual gifts needed for ordained ministry,” Bishop Burkat said. “Faithful and inspired preaching, wise teaching and courageous leadership are evident in their serving.”
“I have been grateful for their patience, their grace under pressure, and their profound love for the ELCA and for the people that they serve,” the bishop said.
“It has been an amazing journey for me,” Pastor Wiesner said after his approval. “The Church is moving in positive directions where God is found even in the midst of struggle. I give thanks to all of the people who have made this possible and especially I gave thanks to God for everything that has happened.”
“I am so incredibly grateful to be at this place in my life and ministry and for the ELCA to be at this place,” Pastor Keiser said. “I believe it is a sign of God’s presence and healing and growth for us. I know in the long-term view of the kingdom of God this will be a moment of grace for me and for the Church.”
Pastor Wiesner was called to serve UniLu in 2008, after serving as pastor of Bethany Lutheran Church, Minneapolis since his ordination July 25, 2004. He previously served several churches there as a lay assistant, communicator and outreach coordinator, and served on the Minneapolis Area Synod Council. In Philadelphia he serves as dean of the city’s Central and Northwest-Olney conferences and is a field education supervisor for seminary students. He is also a co-founder of The Naming Project, a faith-based youth group serving youth of all sexual and gender identities.
Pastor Keiser has served at Holy Communion as a pastoral associate from 2000 until his ordination on Jan. 25, 2009, and has been one of the church’s pastors since. He also served as campus minister to Temple University through UniLu from 2000-2005. He currently serves as a board member of the Lutheran-Episcopal Campus Ministry at Temple and a candidacy interviewer for the synod. In his time at Holy Communion he has worked with staff and membership to expand the congregation’s outreach ministries aimed at ending homelessness and hunger in Philadelphia. He has also taught Greek at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia and in the seminary’s adult lay education programs.
In 2009, the ELCA Churchwide Assembly approved changes to the church’s standards for ministry that made it possible for qualified candidates living in publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships to serve as ELCA clergy and other professional church workers.