Skip to main content

Leader of Fargo's Messiah Lutheran church to resign over gay marriage

  • Author:
  • Updated:
    Original:

A disagreement over same-sex marriage is behind Rev. Steve Berntson's decision to step down as senior pastor of Fargo's Messiah Evangelical Lutheran Church.

However, it seems that disagreement is not with the U.S. Supreme Court over its recent decision to legalize gay marriage, but rather with the flock he leads in worship.

According to Valley News Live, Berntson's sharp disagreement with the court ruling caused a rift between him and his congregation in the months following the ruling.

The pastor, who announced his retirement during Sunday services, told the station there's been a "cultural change within the church" and that his views on gay marriage now put him in the minority.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), meanwhile, has not come out for or against same-sex unions, but does allow "individual ministers and their congregations" to decide for themselves whether to marry gay couples, according to the Human Rights Campaign.

Still, Berntsen "sees the the church eventually endorsing same-sex marriage," the Forum reports.

His last day as pastor will be Oct. 25, notes the paper, which says Berntson was ordained in 1988.

How other church leaders feel

When the Supreme Court announced their same-sex marriage decision in June, it stirred fierce debate in the country, with some of America's most prominent religious leaders voicing their opposition to the ruling.

Among them was Franklin Graham, son of the legendary evangelist Billy Graham, who in a Facebook announcement bashed the lighting of the White House in rainbow colors as "outrageous," reported the Blaze, which also noted the reactions of several other prominent Christian figures.

However, shortly after the Supreme Court's ruling in June, around 100 evangelical pastors lent their signatures to an online letter supporting the decision, the Huffington Post wrote.

"As evangelical pastors and leaders," the letter stated, "we call on our fellow evangelical Christians around the country to lift our voices on behalf of our LGBTQ brothers and sisters, working to make our...churches welcoming and inclusive spaces for all people."

Next Up

minneapolis police

Man fatally shot overnight in north Minneapolis

The shooting was reported around 2:20 a.m.

Screen Shot 2022-05-22 at 8.30.08 AM

Campsites closed at Voyageurs National Park due to 'historic' water levels

All backcountry trails and campsites are closed, as well as many frontcountry sites.

state capitol Minnesota

Lawmakers reach agreement on tax cuts ahead of session's end

Lawmakers announced they had reached a deal on a tax bill Saturday ahead of the looming session deadline.

281699116_10226502238438986_800951410789352812_n

Victims of daytime drive-by shooting in Robbinsdale identified

The two men died after a hail of bullets struck a vehicle.

Screen Shot 2022-05-22 at 8.14.37 AM

Source of 'loud explosion' in Brooklyn Park a mystery

The noise was investigated by police, but no source could be determined.

covid, vaccine, booster shots

COVID: All Americans over 50 advised to get a second booster

Cases, hospitalizations and deaths are on the rise again as new COVID variants emerge.

J.W. Peck (left) and Eric Galler.

2 Minnesotans inducted into White Castle's Hall of Fame

White Castle — it's what a man in Minneapolis and another in Woodbury, crave.

Screen Shot 2022-05-21 at 5.46.37 PM

Video shows officers ended pursuit before fatal crash in Anoka

The crash occurred when the driver fled police during an attempted traffic stop in Coon Rapids.

Eli Hart

6-year-old Eli Hart identified as boy found dead in car trunk

The kindergartner's father was trying to get full custody of his son.

IMG_3509

Boy found dead in trunk of car in Mound was kindergartner

"It is horrifying and difficult to process a tragedy of this magnitude, especially in our close-knit community," the superintendent wrote.

Minneapolis police

Man found yelling for help after being shot in Minneapolis

The shooting occurred on the 800 block of Elwood Avenue North at around 9:15 p.m.

Screen Shot 2022-05-21 at 9.56.21 AM

Minneapolis North principal says she was fired, district says otherwise

“MPS requires schools to follow protocols in times like that and I did not,” Friestleben said.

Related

Catholic teacher fired over gay marriage stance shares story

After 11 years teaching fifth graders at St. Joseph's Catholic school in Moorhead, Trish Cameron revealed to school officials that she did not support the church's opposition to same-sex marriage. One week later, they asked her to resign. In an interview with MPR, she now talks about how she sees many Catholics struggling with the issue.

First Covenant Church of Minneapolis

Minneapolis church facing eviction over its LGBTQ support

The national Evangelical Covenant Church is to decide on whether to remove the church from its roster.

Fargo Forum changes its policy on marriage notices

Editor Matt Von Pinnon wrote in his column, “Starting today, The Forum will accept for publication the announcements of gay marriages, engagements and anniversaries if the marriage takes place in a state or country where it’s legally recognized." The newspaper was criticized last week after it refused to publish the marriage announcement of two Fargo women who plan to get married in New York next month.