ELCA Assembly Prompts Gay and Lesbian Meetings
- 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" from the ELCA
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
ELCA NEWS SERVICE
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
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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