Church of Estonia defrocks gay pastor

Pastor Heino Nurk (b. 1958) of the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church (EELC) was ordained in 1983, while Estonia still was a part of the Soviet Union. At first, he worked in a few parishes in Estonia, but after a few years he specialised in hospital counselling and worked and studied both in Estonia and in the USA. Lately, he has been teaching pastoral care. He is also a founding member of a Christian gay organisation that was started earlier this year.
On October 5, 2010, pastor Nurk was defrocked by the EELC. The reasons given were that he has been found guilty of an indecent act and of teaching heresy. Apparently Nurk himself hasn't been heard during this process, which strikes me as odd. This decision has been much publicised in Estonia.
Estonian society is, as a rule, rather homophobic. What's more, the EELC and the other Baltic Lutheran (and other) churches are in general more conservative than their Nordic counterparts. If, as seems to be the case, Nurk was defrocked because he is (openly) gay and because he teaches that it's OK for a Christian to be gay, it is sad. This is a decision that even the ELCF in Finland would not have made, not to mention the Church of Sweden. But in Estonia they did make it.
I hope that Heino Nurk and other Estonian Christians in his situation will have it easier in the future. I also hope that the road to this future will not be too hard to travel. But I have my doubts.
Õpetaja Heino Nurk E.E.L.K. Seabrooki koguduse hooldaja õpetajaks (Vaba Eesti Sõna / EELK Uudised 8.2.01)
Kirikuvalitsus tagandas vaimuliku ametist Geikristlaste Kogu asutajaliikme (Geikristlaste Kogu 8.10.10)
Heino Nurk: Meie kogudustes on alati olnud geikristlasi (Geikristlaste Kogu 11.10.10)
Heino Nurk tagandati vaimuliku ametist (Eesti Kirik 12.10.10)
Tagandatud hingekarjane: "Peapiiskop teadis juba aastate eest, et olen homo!" (Õhtuleht 12.10.10)
Eesti Evangeelse Luterliku Kiriku konsistoorium: vaimulik ei saa avalikult olla gei (Valgamaalane 12.10.10)
Viron kirkko erotti homopapin (Kotimaa24 12.10.10)
Soome kirikuõpetaja Karl af Hällström väljendab nördimust geipastori tagandamise pärast Eestis (Geikristlaste Kogu 13.10.10)
Pastor sparkad från Estniska kyrkan ( 17.10.10)
News from the East (OCICBW... 19.10.10)
HBT-vänlig präst avsatt (Kyrkans Tidning 20.10.10)
Homosexuell präst avsatt - och öppet brev till Dagen (Karin Långström Vinge 20.10.10)
Republished on UK Gay News 18.10.10.


Göran Koch-Swahne said...

Very sad!

Mats Volberg said...

The newspaper articles you refer to seem to suggest that the problem was not that he was gay, but that we was openly gay.

Kalle af said...

That's correct, Mats. And the deciding factor was that he was a co-founder of Geikristlaste Kogu in August.

Digger said...

A friend forwarded your post to me. Thank you for posting this. I am a lesbian in The U.S. Foreign Service and I will be posted next year to our embassy in Tallinn. So I am very interested in learning more about the issues facing the LGBT community there.

Kalle af said...

You're welcome, Digger! Glad I could be of service!