ELCA Council Places Trust In Voting Members On Recommendation Two
- ELCA Council Places Trust In Voting Members On Recommendation Two
ELCA News Service
August 7, 2005
ORLANDO, Fla. (ELCA) -- The Church Council of the Evangelical
Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) expressed its "trust and confidence"
in voting members of the 2005 ELCA Churchwide Assembly to discern what
"pastoral care" implies concerning same-gender relationships and if
the blessing of same-sex couples is precluded or provided for within
this pastoral care.
The Church Council is the ELCA's board of directors and serves as
the legislative authority of the church between churchwide assemblies.
The council met here Aug. 7 on the eve of the 2005 ELCA Churchwide
Assembly at the Orlando World Center Marriott Resort and Convention
Center, Aug. 8-14.
The Synod Council of the ELCA Southwestern Pennsylvania Synod,
Pittsburgh, asked the Church Council to provide clarification on the
intention of a second of three recommendations that 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. It also requested that
the Church Council relay that clarification to voting members of the
2005 Churchwide Assembly.
Recommendation Two proposes that the ELCA "continue to respect
the guidance of the 1993 advisory 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 1993
advisory statement said the ELCA Conference of Bishops finds no basis
in Scripture for blessing homosexual relationships and do not approve
of such a ceremony as an official action of the ELCA's ministry.
In response to the synod's request, the Church Council expressed
concern that any additional information it can provide regarding
Recommendation Two may "further complicate rather than clarify"
information prepared by the Church Council, which has been distributed
and discussed across the church. The council also anticipated that
voting members' "ongoing dialogue and discernment will establish the
clarity" sought by members of the Southwestern Pennsylvania Synod.
The three recommendations to appear before the assembly were
developed during the first part of a study process known as the ELCA
Studies on Sexuality. A study director and a task force developed a
report and recommendations, which were made public Jan. 13. Members
of the ELCA were encouraged to respond to the recommendations; their
responses were provided to the Church Council as it considered
resolutions for assembly action.
Recommendation One proposes that the ELCA -- its members,
congregations, synods, churchwide organization, 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." Recommendation One and Recommendation Two require a
simple majority vote for adoption.
Recommendation Three 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 and 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. Recommendation Three requires at least a two-thirds
vote from the assembly for adoption, since constitutional bylaws must
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Information about the ELCA Churchwide Assembly is at
http://www.elca.org/assembly/05 on the Web.