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National Religious Leadership Roundtable Responds to ELCA Decision

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    National Religious Leadership Roundtable responds to Evangelical Lutheran Church in America decision on LGBT pastors August 13, 2007 CHICAGO, Aug. 13 —
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 15, 2007
      National Religious Leadership Roundtable responds to Evangelical
      Lutheran Church in America decision on LGBT pastors
      August 13, 2007

      CHICAGO, Aug. 13 — Delegates to the Tenth Churchwide Assembly of the
      Evangelical Lutheran Church in America voted Saturday to urge bishops
      to refrain from disciplining lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender
      (LGBT) pastors in committed relationships. The vote was a victory for
      advocates of equality in this important Protestant denomination with
      4.8 million members, but it falls short of changing the church's
      policy of discriminating against LGBT pastors who have families.

      The National Religious Leadership Roundtable commends the work of
      Lutherans Concerned/North America and the Goodsoil Coalition for their
      advocacy and clarity of gospel values. The Roundtable looks forward to
      the day when true justice comes to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in
      America and its faithful LGBT pastors.

      Responses from National Religious Leadership Roundtable Members

      "One week ago, on August 6 at 6:30 p.m. in Chicago, 82 Lutheran
      ministers put their careers on the line by announcing at the ELCA
      Churchwide Assembly that they are gay or lesbian and in loving,
      committed relationships.

      "On Saturday, the ELCA Churchwide Assembly voted not to discipline
      them — which means an end to the practice that, in only the past two
      years, has meant the blocking of the gifts and graces of a couple of
      hundred ministers and seminarians who have been removed because they
      are in same-sex relationships.

      "But it doesn't mean an end to discrimination. Several years ago, the
      ELCA voted to ordain lesbian and gay ministers if they agreed to be
      celibate. It's hard for me to understand the rationale behind this
      type of decision: If sexuality is part of God's gift to us, if sexual
      diversity is part of God's blessing, if God calls us to be in
      communion in others, surely God rejoices when we find loving partners
      to journey with in life. How can this church teach `where there is
      love, the sacred is in our midst' yet deny it to their gay and lesbian

      "Today, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender pastors hang in limbo.
      Their sexuality is still named as less than, sinful and `other.' I
      look forward to the day when the ECLA understands that sexuality is
      part of God's blessing."

      — Rev. Debra Haffner
      Executive Director
      Religious Institute on Sexual Morality, Justice, and Healing

      "At such a time as this, when the winds of justice and gospel truth
      are blowing all around us, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
      has responded with timidity.Such lukewarm response does not befit the
      greatness of a church whose founder is Martin Luther. I pray that the
      ELCA will find its moral courage and its thirst for justice and end
      its discrimination against faithful, committed and called lesbian,
      gay, bisexual and transgender pastors who have families."

      — Rev. Rebecca Voelkel
      Program Director
      Institute for Welcoming Resources

      "The decision to delay continues discrimination. The 82 clergy who
      courageously came out at the Churchwide Assembly are caught in limbo,
      waiting to see if the church will do the right thing.

      "Using committees and dialogues to delay is abusive to faithful
      lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Lutherans, their families and
      supporters. The church knows better. They just lacked courage."

      — Rev. Troy Plummer
      Executive Director
      Reconciling Ministries Network

      "We are encouraged and empowered by the decision reached today. Our
      feelings are mixed, but this is a substantive change in the direction
      of full inclusion. On the one hand, the ELCA's formal urging of
      bishops to lean on the side of inclusion and flexibility shows that
      they are listening to the Holy Spirit and have recognized the abundant
      ministerial gifts of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people
      in their midst. They witnessed firsthand in Chicago the prophetic
      witness of 82 pastors who have come out as LGBT people within the
      Lutheran denomination and they saw the reform spirit of Martin Luther
      working through LGBT people of faith and allies. On the other hand, we
      are saddened that they did not summon the courage to fully overturn a
      clearly discriminatory policy and we grieve for the congregations and
      pastors who continue to suffer because of this unjust policy.

      "We commend our colleagues at Lutherans Concerned and the Goodsoil
      Coalition for their consistent, strategic and thoroughly loving
      leadership. God's beloved community is working through this mighty
      coalition and the whole church and LGBT people everywhere have been
      strengthened and encouraged by their efforts. The seeds of change have
      taken root in Chicago and with faith and hard work we will see them

      — Harry Knox
      Director, Religion and Faith Program
      Human Rights Campaign


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