At approximately 2 pm yesterday, a tornado touched down in downtown Minneapolis. It was the first tornado to hit this area in nearly 90 years. Even more profound is that the agenda for the churchwide assembly stated that discussion surrounding the proposed human sexuality statement would begin at, you guessed it, 2 pm.
I’m not saying that this tornado was sent by God as a warning of the “wrath to come.” But I’m also not prepared to rule it out. Either positionÃ¢â‚¬â€œassurance or dismissalÃ¢â‚¬â€œis grounded in pride and arrogance. One has to at least entertain the fact that this is a profound coincidence. Either way, it cannot be ignored.
A Minneapolis pastor, not Lutheran, phrased it like this on his blog:
On a day when no severe weather was predicted or expected…a tornado forms, baffling the weather expertsÃ¢â‚¬â€most saying theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve never seen anything like it. It happens right in the city. The city:Ã‚Â Minneapolis.
The tornado happens on a Wednesday…during the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America’s national convention in the Minneapolis Convention Center. The convention is using Central Lutheran across the street as its church. The church has set up tents around itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s building for this purpose.
Here are some pictures from the tornado damage at Central Lutheran. This ELCA church was serving as a “home base” for the attendees of the assembly. The assembly hall where the ELCA is meeting is across the street.
The first picture is the steeple of Central Lutheran. The second picture is the courtyard area of the church. You can see the damaged steeple at the top of the picture. The white tents on the ground were to house a “pub” for the assembly attenders, amongst other things.
Another interesting observation is that the vote on the sexuality statement passed by exactly two-thirds percent, or 66.6%. Traditionally that number, thee sixes in a row, doesn’t have a great track record. Again, I’m not suggesting we look deeper into this than need be. But I’m also not dismissing it outright.
These are extraordinary times in the ELCA; the Church at large really. I think it’s safe to say that something happened yesterday. Discerning what that something is is a matter of prayer, reflection and time.