(from FotF’s Pastor’s Weekly Briefing)

A Minnesota county’s social services department has been sending disabled senior citizens and other vulnerable adults who need care during the day to Trinity Lutheran Church in St. Francis.

However, the conservative Missouri Synod church turned away a client who had undergone sex-change surgery. In response, the county has said that, if the church wants to continue the contract with new clients, they would have to sign a non-discrimination policy that included sexual orientation.

Associate pastor John Maxfield says that signing the policy would violate their theological beliefs and that a man’s decision to have a sex change is contrary to God’s revealed will. Maxfield notes that, although the church is losing a lot of money by taking this stand, “obedience to God’s Word is more important”.

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Paul Shafer asked in the comments for more on this story. First, this is a church not far from the church I have served the past 3 years. I am not familiar intimately with the specifics beyond that which has been in the press, but it was big enough for Focus on the Family to pick up on it.

The initial Star Tribune Article that many other news outlets picked up on came out April 11th.

A chronology of events related to this article.

May 13, 2005: Prospective client tours Trinity Lutheran Adult Day Services, St. Francis, disclosing at the end of the process that she’s transgendered.

May 17, 2005: Anoka County’s public health nurse manager, Cheryl Irwin, learns the client has been rejected.

May 20, 2005: Irwin writes to ask why, raising the prospect of canceling the county’s contract with the church.

June 2005: In an undated letter, Trinity’s program director, Tracy Curie, explains that the church’s opposition has to do with bathroom facilities, the effect on other clients, the lack of staff training and the violation of its “theological beliefs.” The county subsequently stops sending new clients to Trinity.

Jan. 9: Irwin sends the church a copy of the state’s antidiscrimination law, noting the section where churches’ “secular business activities” are not exempt.

Feb. 10: Curie resigns.

March 30: Threatened with withdrawal of all clients, church agrees to modify its contract to retain current clients but not get any new ones.

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