Skip to comments.ELCA Council Drafts, Forwards Three Resolutions on Homosexuality
Posted on 04/11/2005 7:32:11 PM PDT by lightman
ELCA Council Drafts, Forwards Three Resolutions on Homosexuality
CHICAGO (ELCA) -- The Church Council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) developed and forwarded three resolutions to the ELCA Churchwide Assembly this summer. The resolutions address whether or not the church will bless same-sex relationships and whether or not the ELCA will allow people in such relationships to serve the church as professional lay and ordained ministers.
The Church Council is the ELCA's board of directors and serves as the legislative authority of the church between churchwide assemblies. The council is composed of 37 members, including the four officers of the ELCA -- presiding bishop, vice president, secretary and treasurer. The council met here April 9-11. Assemblies are held every other year; the next is Aug. 8-14, in Orlando, Fla.
The third of three resolutions that the council put on the assembly agenda would "create a process for the sake of outreach, ministry and the commitment to continuing dialogue, which may permit exceptions to the expectations regarding sexual conduct for gay or lesbian candidates and rostered leaders in life-long, committed and faithful same-sex relationships who otherwise are determined to be in compliance" with the conduct the church expects of its ministers.
"Rostered" leaders of the ELCA are lay and ordained ministers of the church. Lay ministers are associates in ministry, deaconesses and diaconal ministers.
The process for granting an exception to the church's current policy -- expecting gay and lesbian ministers to abstain from sexual relations -- begins with the "reasonable assumption or confirmation" that an ELCA congregation would invite the person to serve in a ministry setting, according to a description of the proposed process that accompanies the council's recommendations.
The ELCA's 10,657 congregations are organized into 65 synods, each headed by a bishop. If the synod bishop supports the congregation's invitation and the synod's governing council agrees, that synod council would ask the ELCA Conference of Bishops to permit the assignment of a gay or lesbian minister to the inviting congregation. The conference is made up of all 65 synod bishops, the ELCA presiding bishop and ELCA secretary.
The minister is expected to provide "evidence of intent to live in a life-long, committed and faithful same-sex relationship."
The Church Council drafted specific bylaws that the Churchwide Assembly will consider, defining the process for exceptions. The bylaws clarify that, once an exception is granted, the minister cannot be disciplined for non-compliance with expectations by a future bishop or council.
The council's recommendations serve as a starting point for the deliberation and decisions of the Churchwide Assembly in August. The assembly will have resolutions from synods and from its own voting members, and the report and recommendations of a task force for the ELCA Studies of Sexuality.
On Jan. 13 the task force released a report on its first three years of work. The report included three recommendations for the assembly to consider in August:
+ concentrate on finding ways to live together faithfully in the midst of disagreements
+ continue to respect the pastoral guidance of a 1993 statement of the ELCA Conference of Bishops opposing the blessing of homosexual relationships but remaining open to pastors wanting to provide pastoral care for gay and lesbian Lutherans
+ continue under current standards that expect unmarried ministers to abstain from sexual relations -- defining marriage as being between a man and a woman -- but, respecting the consciences of those who find these standards in conflict with the mission of the church, the ELCA may choose to refrain from disciplining gay and lesbian ministers in committed relationships and from disciplining those who call or approve partnered gay or lesbian people for ministry
"It's difficult for the council to see that we would have a policy and not enforce it," said Carlos Pena, council chair and ELCA vice president, Galveston, Texas. "At the same time, the council realized that it is a reality and, for the sake of outreach and ministry, we need to create some opportunity for candidates who are living in a committed relationship to be ordained and to provide ministry in specific locations."
In keeping with the first task force recommendation, the Church Council drafted an assembly resolution "that the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America -- its members, congregations, synods, churchwide organization, and agencies and institutions -- be urged to concentrate on finding ways to live together faithfully in the midst of disagreements, recognizing the God-given mission and communion that we share as members of the body of Christ."
The council drafted a second assembly resolution "that the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America continue to respect the guidance of the 1993 statement of the Conference of Bishops" and "that this church welcome gay and lesbian persons into its life and trust pastors and congregations to discern ways to provide faithful pastoral care to same-sex couples."
The third assembly resolution included bylaw language the assembly would need to approve to implement the exception process. It also directed that the church periodically review and evaluate the process.
Adopting or amending bylaws of the ELCA requires approval by two-thirds of the voting members of a churchwide assembly. The first two assembly resolutions would need a simple majority or approval by more than half of the voting members.
Before the council discussed an initial draft of the resolutions, it granted voice to visitors representing two groups within the ELCA -- Good Soil, wanting the church to "remove all policy obstacles for the ordination of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people called into ministry," and Solid Rock Lutherans, upholding the ELCA's current standards on sexual conduct and ordination.
Jeff R. Johnson, University Lutheran Chapel, Berkeley, Calif., and Jeannine Janson, San Francisco, co-chairs of Good Soil, presented a petition with more than 1,200 signatures. "We ask the Church Council to put forward resolutions that will remove all policy obstacles for the ordination of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people called into ministry. We ask the Church Council to put forward resolutions that do not restrict the right of ELCA pastors to bless committed same-sex relationships," the petition said.
The Rev. Roy A. Harrisville III, teaching pastor, Calvary Lutheran Church, Golden Valley, Minn., and executive director, Solid Rock Lutherans, told the council that the ELCA ordains gay and lesbian pastors now but does not condone homosexual behavior. He said granting exceptions would change traditional definitions of what it means to be Christian and create two classes of clergy. "I doubt very much that we will be able to live with two classes of clergy for very long," he said.
The council's program and services committee presented initial drafts of the resolutions to the council. The council decided by voice vote without dissent to forward the first resolution to the Churchwide Assembly.
Council members considered replacing the second resolution with one that called for "a liturgical means by which some pastors could conduct a service that provides evidence of a life-long committed same-gender relationship." That motion failed 7 to 26.
The council considered wording from the council of the ELCA Greater Milwaukee Synod to "recognize and affirm" those who bless same-gender relationships and those who do not, respecting one another "as we examine our understanding and practices." That motion failed 11 to 22.
The council accepted an amendment that moved the last half of the second resolution -- "that this church welcome gay and lesbian persons into its life and trust pastors and congregations to discern ways to provide faithful pastoral care to same-sex couples" -- from the draft resolution's informational section.
With that amendment, the council decided by voice vote without dissent to forward the second resolution to the Churchwide Assembly.
The council debated a substitute resolution for the third resolution calling for revision of ELCA documents that outline the church's expectations regarding the sexual conduct of its ministers and its guidelines for discipline, deleting references to homosexuality. The motion failed 10 to 24, with 1 abstention.
Council members considered an amendment to the third resolution, removing the Conference of Bishops from the exception process.
The Rev. Jennifer J. Thomas, council member, Milwaukee, said she feared that the process "would politicize the Conference of Bishops instead of building up the body of Christ."
"I find myself welcoming the collective oversight of the Conference of Bishops" in the exception process, said the Rev. Michael G. Merkel, council member, New Haven, Conn.
The motion failed 8 to 24.
The council debated another substitute resolution for the third resolution that would have suspended policy that calls for disciplining ministers in same-gender relationships until the ELCA adopts a social statement on human sexuality. The motion failed 5 to 27. Earlier in the meeting, the council approved a new timeline for such a statement to be developed by 2009 instead of 2007.
Council members approved some editing of the third resolution and voted 32 to 2 to forward the third resolution to the Churchwide Assembly.
-- -- -- The complete document, "Recommendations from the ELCA Church Council to the ELCA Churchwide Assembly on Sexuality Studies," is available at http://www.elca.org/faithfuljourney/pdf/050411churchcouncil.pdf on the ELCA Web site.
EDITORS: Jeff R. Johnson serves as pastor of an ELCA congregation but is not on the roster of ELCA clergy.
For information contact:
John Brooks, Director (773) 380-2958 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Given the lopsided votes against even more radical change, one wonders what the outcome would have been of a vote to uphold current standards (the request of no less than eight Synods). One wonders further why such a motion was not made.
My guess would be that they don't want to maintain the current standards. They have been looking the other way regarding violations for years; they are ready now to make things ok and out in the open.
Lightman, are you involved in Word Alone?
Here I am again, your Evangelical Orthodox Lutheran friend!
Someone posted on the other thread that their ELCA pastors told them to "leave the interpretation of scripture to experts". Well, even in the ELCA, NO ONE has ever told me that. After all, I know more theology than many ELCA pastors, especially those who have forgotten every bit of theology they ever knew and replaced it with the feminazi/revisionist tommyrot! However, I know that the ELCA liberals in my blue state neck of the woods consider me VERY "intolerant" and much, much too pro-Serbian.
Remember, besides the gaysbian garbage, the ELCA is liklely to approve that new feminazi liturgy and hymnal, which I call "Deconstructing Worship". Between a feminazi "liturgy", gaysbian "pastors", and seminary "professors" who have abandoned the faith for blue state/Eurotrash "culture", I'm likely to go all the way to the Orthodox Church!!!!
Post #4 is for you, too!
My synod is as blue as can be, and as I found out recently, the "lavender" aspect of the synod is much too close to home for confort.
That is one reason I am thnking Orthodox, since decent Lutheran alternatives are just not there. "All church membership is local".
Thank you for the ping .. I should point out that my comment on the other thread was a story related to me by a friend. I am no longer a member of the ELCA.
We just got over a serious leadership problem which led to a serious money problem...now people are leaving or withholding their money because of this ELCA foolishness. Our church has close to or over a million dollar budget to keep our facility open and our staff paid. If we can't pay the bills, we can't offer the ministries. I really resent this stuff interfering with legitimate ministries of the church.
ELCA: Let's go jump off the cliff with the Episco-Baalians.
If you knew what was going on at the sems, you would not be.
There is a terrible irony in the timing of the Council's action on the Monday of the Third Week of Easter. The daily Epistle for yesterday was from 1 John 4:
"Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God; for many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. And this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world."
And the opening Collect in the American Lutheran Publicity Bureau's "For All The Saints" daily prayer book was:
"God our Father,
your light of truth guides us to the way of Christ.
May all who follow him reject what is contrary to the Gospel.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever."
I use it for keeping lots of info on the ELCA issue(s) in one place for interested people, particularly those in my church.
Please don't give a dime of you rmoney to the ELCA...at any level. Follow the money trail and you'll run for the door.
The apostate church.
Kind of figured you would be heading to the SO church. Don't blame you. Just don't forget to pray for those in the ELCA who are trying to figure out what to do now.
I just hope the LCMS doesn't decide to jump off the cliff also.
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