The Rev. Bill Golderer, Broad Street's pastor, said the ordination of Norse, who recently earned a master's degree from the Princeton Theological Seminary, marked "an unleashing of David's gifts to the world."
In an earlier interview, Golderer said Norse's ordination reflected the Center City ministry's commitment to serving a diverse Christian community. The ministry has a large outreach program for the homeless and strong ties with the local arts community.
"While David's sexual orientation is an important part of his identity, he sees himself first and foremost as someone called to pastor God's people," said Golderer, who was tapped in 2005 to establish the alternative church. "He is very much into this being a dimension of who he is, but not the sum total."
"Broad Street has always been a place that welcomes people," said Norse, who worshipped at the church while at Princeton and who has been a pastoral associate since September.
The ministry is part of the Presbyterian Church U.S.A., the largest Presbyterian denomination in the country. After long debate, it voted in 2011 to allow ordination of openly gay and lesbian members.
Golderer said Presbyterians do not ask about the sexual orientation of men and women seeking ordination. He said Norse said he was gay when he sought to be ordained at Broad Street.
"He wasn't interested in making some kind of political statement, but to be fully integrated from the first day of his ordination," Golderer said.
Courtenay Willcox, moderator of the Presbytery of Philadelphia, the church's regional body, presided over the ordination and joined with 16 other Presbyterian ministers and church leaders in a ceremonial laying of hands to welcome Norse to the ministry.
Norse, who grew up outside Portland, said in an interview that when middle school classmates bullied him with gay taunts, he always found support from the Presbyterian church his family attended. "The church was the safe place for me," he said. "It was the place that was welcoming and didn't ask if I was gay or not."
His mother suffered a heart attack when he was in eighth grade, and the congregation rallied around the family and brought meals for weeks. "This is what the church is about," he said. "When hard things happen in your life, you turn to God."
A graduate of Lewis and Clark College, Norse personally welcomes guests who dine on the 1,100 chef-prepared meals the Broad Street church serves weekly to the homeless. "It seems like a simple task, but I'm the first person that people see and talk with," Norse said.
He also leads Bible study, visits parishioners, and aims to start a fellowship group at Broad Street for members of the lesbian, gay, and transgender community.
"It's all the work of being a pastor," he said, "meeting with people, talking to people about their faith and their doubts."