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ELCA Assembly Encourages Restraint in Discipline of Congregations, Leaders

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    ELCA Assembly Encourages Restraint in Discipline of Congregations, Leaders ELCA NEWS SERVICE August 11, 2007 CHICAGO (ELCA) - While the Evangelical Lutheran
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 13, 2007
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      ELCA Assembly Encourages Restraint in Discipline of Congregations, Leaders
      ELCA NEWS SERVICE
      August 11, 2007

      CHICAGO (ELCA) - While the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
      (ELCA) made no changes to its standards for its professional leaders
      during the 2007 Churchwide Assembly, it encouraged restraint in
      disciplining people and congregations that call ministers in mutual,
      chaste and faithful, committed, same-gender relationships, and called
      for restraint in disciplining professional leaders.

      The churchwide assembly, the chief legislative authority of the
      ELCA, is met here Aug. 6-11 at Navy Pier's Festival Hall. About 2,000
      people participated, including 1,069 ELCA voting members. The theme
      for the biennial assembly was "Living in God's Amazing Grace: Thanks
      be to God!"

      By a vote of 538 to 431, the assembly encouraged the ELCA's
      synods, bishops and presiding bishop to "refrain from or demonstrate
      restraint in disciplining" people and congregations who call qualified
      leaders on the professional rosters of the ELCA "who are in a mutual,
      chaste and faithful, committed, same-gender relationship." The
      assembly also stated that the same restraint should apply to the
      professional leaders who are on the official rosters and are in
      committed same-gender relationships. The proposal was adopted by the
      assembly as a substitute for a recommendation of the Memorials Committee.

      Initial debate centered on referring recommendations on
      standards for rostered leaders to the Task Force on Studies of
      Sexuality, which is developing a social statement on human sexuality
      for consideration by the 2009 Churchwide Assembly.

      The substitute proposal was made by the Rev. Paul R. Landahl,
      bishop of the ELCA Metropolitan Chicago Synod. He said, "We pray that
      somebody here today will listen to what we are trying to say and give
      us some breathing space to do what God is calling us to do."

      "We need to refrain from harming good leaders," said Eric M.
      Peterson, ELCA South-Central Synod of Wisconsin. "Stop the bleeding of
      our church, and focus on mission and ministry."

      Arthur Murphy, ELCA Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast Synod, was
      opposed to the action. "We're trying to get in the back door what we
      did not do through the front door. I urge us not to make haphazard,
      piecemeal policy but create a comprehensive solution at the 2009
      Churchwide Assembly and pass it one way or another."

      At a news conference following the decision, the Rev. Mark S.
      Hanson, ELCA presiding bishop, said the key words from the adopted
      action were that the Churchwide Assembly "prays, urges, and
      encourages" refraining or demonstrating restraint in discipline.
      "These are words of counsel. They are not words that change the
      standards of the church. They reflect the mind of this assembly as it
      seeks to give counsel to the leaders of the church."

      In a separate decisions, the assembly referred memorials to the
      Task Force for ELCA Studies on Sexuality regarding requests to make
      changes in ELCA clergy standards. The assembly added an amendment to
      the referral, directing the task force to "specifically address and
      make recommendations to the 2009 Churchwide Assembly on changes to any
      policies that preclude practicing homosexual persons from the rosters
      of the church." The assembly also referred other related memorials on
      sexuality to the task force.

      - - -
      Information about the 2007 ELCA Churchwide Assembly can be
      found at http://www.ELCA.org/assembly/ on the Web.

      For information contact:
      John Brooks, Director (773) 380-2958 or news@...
      http://www.elca.org/news
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