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ELCA Assembly Prompts Gay and Lesbian Meetings

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    CALLED OUT INFORMATION SERVICE Two stories, one a link to an Associated Press article and a complete story ELCA Assembly Prompts Gay and Lesbian Meetings
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 10, 2001
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      Two stories, one a link to an Associated Press article and a complete
      story "ELCA Assembly Prompts Gay and Lesbian Meetings" from the ELCA
      News Service.


      Thursday August 9, 2001
      Lutherans Discuss Homosexuality
      By RICHARD N. OSTLING, AP Religion Writer

      INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Anxieties about how Christians can overcome
      disagreements on homosexuality emerged during a session attended by
      700 delegates at the national legislative assembly of the Evangelical
      Lutheran Church in America.<MORE>


      Friday, August 10, 2001
      ELCA Assembly Prompts Gay and Lesbian Meetings

      INDIANAPOLIS (ELCA) -- A non-traditional congregation of 142
      people gathered in a traditional sanctuary of Christ Church Episcopal
      Cathedral here for a midday festival worship during the 2001 ELCA
      Churchwide Assembly, Aug. 9. The Rev. Deborah D. Conrad of Indiana-
      Kentucky Synod preached and Bishop Kenneth R. Olsen, ELCA
      Chicago Synod, presided at a service sponsored by Lutherans
      Concerned/North America (LC/NA).

      The churchwide assembly, the chief legislative authority of the
      ELCA, is meeting here Aug. 8-14 at the Indiana Convention Center.
      There are more than 2,000 people participating, including 1,040 ELCA
      voting members. The theme for the biennial assembly is "Making
      Christ Known: Sharing Faith in a New Century."

      Wearing a clergy stole made by the ELCA Commission for Women,
      Conrad talked of the call "to go":

      "I feel like I'm standing on the edge of something, about to
      jump! Something's going on that matters, and you've been invited
      the fray. My preacher's heart has the inclination not just to go, but
      to go and go and go, quite possibly covering a half to three-fourths
      of the Scripture and then going some more."

      As a visiting preacher to Indianapolis, Conrad had been
      encouraged to include a racing metaphor in her homily. She asked,
      "Why do thousands of people gather to watch the same old regulars go
      round and round in circles?" a reference to both the Indy 500 and the
      ELCA assembly, which received laughter and comments from the
      congregation. Advising the congregation to "let me do the sermon" she
      went on to talk about the foolishness of biblical figure Abram's
      journey, "Conventional wisdom says this is a bad idea. They moved to
      a place they'd never been by a God they'd never met before. And God
      promised descendants -- exactly what God knew Abram and Sarah would
      be most vulnerable to. Okay, so some strange guy walks up to you in a
      parking garage and tells you if you get into his car and go for a
      ride, you'll collect a prize. Go? Don't go? It's a no-brainer."

      "We have been called, and we are afraid. It's perfectly
      reasonable to be afraid. It's just not faithful." She added, "If
      there's a racing image that is useful, it is that no one meanders
      around a track. We are called to go NOW," Conrad said. "But before
      you go, eat something. We need the strength that a little bread and
      some wine will give us."

      The worship preceded the first national gathering of Lutheran
      Family and Friends of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered
      scheduled Aug. 9-10. Thursday evening the conference was to open
      the national premier of a new video "What do you say when some you
      love says 'I'm Gay?'" which features former ELCA synodical bishop
      Paul W. Egertson.

      The Rev. Paul W. Egertson, 66, is a longtime proponent of
      ordaining gay and lesbian people who are in committed relationships.
      He resigned as bishop of the ELCA Southern California (West) Synod
      effective July 31, one month before his six-year term was to end.
      Egertson made the decision following conversations with church
      after his controversial role as a key participant in the April 28
      ordination of Anita C. Hill, who is not approved for ordination in
      ELCA. Egertson had earlier indicated he would not be available for
      re-election when his term ended this summer.

      An offering was taken with proceeds to go to support the
      ministries of LC/NA, including the new video for families and LC/NA's
      presence at churchwide assembly.

      LC/NA is self-defined as "a Christian ministry affirming God's
      love for lesbian and gay people." Their vision is "to take the lead
      in creating new ministries for those the institutional church is
      ignoring." Families Concerned, a new LC/NA ministry, sponsors
      affirming spiritual support groups for parents, family and friends
      "in the context of the best Lutheran traditions."

      Several events focusing on gay, lesbian, bisexual and
      transgendered (GLBT) issues with the ELCA are scheduled as voting
      members meet in Indianapolis. Lutherans Concerned/North America is
      sponsoring a two-day event for families; Soulforce and the Lutheran
      Alliance for Full Participation plan a "celebration of Lutheran
      s/heros, day long vigils, training in non-violence, and a possible
      civil disobedience" from Aug. 10-13. Soulforce defines itself as "an
      interfaith network of GLBT individuals and their families, friends
      allies committed to applying the principles of nonviolent resistance
      as taught by Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. to the
      liberation of sexual and gender minorities."

      ELCA churchwide assembly voting members will discuss memorials
      about same-sex unions and ordination of gay and lesbians people
      this assembly.

      The Rev. H. George Anderson, ELCA presiding bishop, recommended
      that "ELCA members must think through very carefully how we minister
      to gays, before we come to quick decisions."

      A recommendation of the assembly memorials committee calls for
      development of resources for discussing what it might mean to bless
      committed same-gender relationships and proposals for definitions of
      those relationships, but that the church not initiate a study on

      The ELCA does not have a formal policy affirming or prohibiting
      its clergy from blessing same-sex unions. A 1993 advisory statement
      from the Conference of Bishops noted that its members do not approve
      of such ceremonies.

      "I have seen considerable progress in the ability of synods and
      congregations to deal openly with a formerly taboo subject -- and to
      do it in a civil manner," Anderson said Thursday morning.

      "What worries me is that there are still people on various sides
      of the question who refuse to respect the views of people on the
      side," Anderson said in his report to the assembly. "Some of those
      who believe the present policy is correct accuse the other side of
      rejecting clear biblical teaching. Some of those who want to change
      our present policy accuse the other side of failing to be as loving
      as Jesus is. We do not agree on how to interpret Scripture on this
      issue, nor do we agree on the causes of homosexuality. Until we do
      find greater agreement, we need to listen carefully to one another."

      -- -- --
      Information about assembly actions is at
      on the ELCA's Web Site. Recorded updates during the assembly are
      available by calling 773/380-2477.

      For information contact:
      John Brooks, Director (773) 380-2958 or NEWS@...

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