ELCA Assembly Encourages Restraint in Discipline of Congregations, Leaders
- 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.
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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@...