SC Lutherans will stay

ORANGEBURG — Despite moves by neighboring North Carolina Lutherans to leave the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA), some Palmetto State Lutherans have decided to make “reform from within.”

In October, 400 North Carolina Lutherans met in Salisbury and took a step toward schism, voting to form a splinter conservative group, Lutheran CORE. The clergy and laypeople there were voicing opposition to the ELCA’s decision to bless same-sex relationships and allow partnered gays into the clergy. In November, a small congregation in Gaston County split with the national denomination altogether.

But the pastor of Orangeburg Lutheran Church, an hour south of Columbia, says only three members of his more than 300-strong congregation have voiced opinions the issue.

“Two were for staying and one was for leaving,” Rev. Garry White told The Times and Democrat. “I expect that’s about the extent of the pot boiling on this issue.”

White added, “This congregation is a community that seems to be dedicated to staying together. There is a sense of family here.”

Many South Carolina Lutherans haven’t joined Lutheran CORE. Instead, 25 pastors have joined together to form the Orthodox Lutherans of South Carolina.

“There have been a number of people who have visited CORE and there have been some exploratory conversations,” South Carolina ELCA Synod Bishop Herman M. Yoos told the Orangeburg paper. “I think (South Carolina congregations) don’t want to jump ship right now because they know there is still a place for their voice to be heard. What isn’t known is what forum will be provided for them in a new group.”

Students offer free HIV testing

AIKEN — Student activists encouraged their fellow University of South Carolina-Aiken students to get free HIV testing on Nov. 19. Organized by the campus’ Unity Alliance, the event brought together student leaders and representatives from Sean’s Last Wish, an LGBT education and hate crimes prevention foundation started by Elke Kennedy after the anti-gay killing of her son.

Neil Bridgers, Unity Alliance president, said the event was a success.

“People seem to be getting tested, there’s a line going, it’s surprising how much I’m not having to educate,” he told WJBF News Channel 6. “People know they need to get tested.”

Bridgers told Q-Notes the event was his last official campus activity as president of Unity Alliance before he graduates in December.

SC Pride’s Wilson honored

COLUMBIA — The president of the South Carolina Pride Movement was honored for his activism and advocacy at the National Philanthropy Day luncheon presented by the local chapter of Association of Fundraising Professionals.

“While we have made progress in the past two decades, we still live in a country divided by the idea of recognizing the legitimacy of the marriage vows between persons of the same sex and a state conflicted by an ad campaign that once celebrated its status as ‘so gay,’” Wilson said. “I am honored today, but I know that others lit the torch long before me and I am now proud to carry it forward.”

Holli S. Emore, principal of Emore Development Resources, sponsored the local luncheon.

“Ryan is an extraordinary young leader. It has been my pleasure to call him both a colleague and a friend and I look for great things in his future,” said Emore.

Wilson holds a Master of Education, Higher Education & Student Affairs from the University of South Carolina. He has served as SC Pride president for the past two years.

Matt Comer

Matt Comer previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015 and as a staff writer afterward in 2016.