Ban upheld on ELCA clergy’s non-celibate same sex relationships

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Voting members at an assembly of the nation's largest Lutheran denomination on Friday rejected an effort by the Greater Milwaukee Synod and 20 other synods to end a ban on homosexual clergy who are in committed relationships.

However, Bishop Craig Johnson of Minneapolis kept the possibility of change alive by introducing a resolution that would allow congregations, bishops, regional synodical councils and the national presiding bishop to jointly allow exceptions to the ban case by case.

Other resolutions also could come to the floor when the Churchwide Assembly, the ELCA's highest legislative authority, reconvenes today. With 4.8 million members, the ELCA is the nation's largest Lutheran denomination.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesLutheran

11 Comments
Posted August 11, 2007 at 12:04 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. Brad Page wrote:

Ah, yes, “local option”.  That has worked well to maintain the integrity of other churches, hasn’t it?

August 11, 2:35 pm | [comment link]
2. Brian of Maryland wrote:

The local option passed near the end of the assembly.  I’m sure it will be all over the news, but here the first I’ve found:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/20227563/

CHICAGO - Clergy members who are in homosexual relationships will be able to serve as pastors, the largest U.S. Lutheran body said Saturday.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America passed a resolution at its annual assembly urging bishops to refrain from disciplining pastors who are in “faithful committed same-gender relationships.”

The resolution passed by a vote of 538-431.
Maryland Brian

August 11, 3:06 pm | [comment link]
3. chips wrote:

My guess is that they will not long remain the largest Lutheran entity in America.

August 11, 4:47 pm | [comment link]
4. chips wrote:

Interesting that MSNBC referred to “the Anglican Church” - should send a chill down the TEC media flack’s spine - brand id is failing.

August 11, 4:52 pm | [comment link]
5. Harry Edmon wrote:

Here is the substitute resolution as listed on the ELCA web site:

Substitute Motion for Model Memorial cited in Recommendation E3: Restraint in Discipline Proceedings.
RESOLVED, that in an effort to continue
as a church in moral deliberation without
further strife and pain to its members, the
Churchwide Assembly prays, urges, and
encourages synods, synodical bishops, and
the presiding bishop to refrain from or
demonstrate restraint in disciplining those
congregations and persons who call into the
rostered ministry otherwise-qualified
candidates who are in a mutual, chaste, and
faithful committed same-gender relationship;
and be it further
RESOLVED, that the Churchwide
Assembly prays, urges, and encourages
synods, synodical bishops, and the
presiding bishop to refrain from or
demonstrate restraint in disciplining those
rostered leaders in a mutual, chaste, and
faithful committed same-gender relationship
who have been called and rostered in this
church.

Where this is no discipline there is no doctrine.  Therefore the “practical” effect of this resolution is to allow homosexual pastors in the ELCA, despite what they said in any other resolution.

August 11, 6:26 pm | [comment link]
6. Brian of Maryland wrote:

It has by default become local option.  The local bishop can decide to allow gay or lesbian pastors to serve in his/her synod.  The floodgates will open in some synods.  And as any management system will tell you, once you’ve relaxed accountability it takes a great deal of energy to return it ... if it is even possible.

The 2009 study just became irrelevant. Without accountability, who cares about the theology?

Maryland Brian

August 11, 6:37 pm | [comment link]
7. Virginia Lutheran wrote:

At least conservative synods will, it is hoped, continue to hold the line and resist the urging and encouragement. But is that something that will only endure for two years? In 2009 will it be mandatory and not merely urged?

August 11, 6:56 pm | [comment link]
8. Brian of Maryland wrote:

Virginia Lutheran,

What will this mean across the board?  What if a congregation in an orthodox synod decides to call a pastor on the ECP list (gay and lesbian clergy)?  The Bishop could refuse to sign the call.  But then what?  If he/she started a discipline process against the congregation for calling someone not on the roster, it would eventually kick up into the disciplinary committee process.  That committee could (as they tried in the recent Atlanta case) suggest the policy is wrong and, now with recent actions of the national assembly, they could claim they are forced to stand down from a discipline that would lead to explusion of the congregation.

Where there is no accountability, nothing else really matters.  But more to your question, I don’t think any of us know.  It’s pretty clear the task force is heavily stacked toward change so there’s little doubt they will once again recommend “it’s time”, etc.  Now, would the national assembly vote to turn it back?  Will there be enough orthodox left by then or will many have already given up and jumped ship?  I think the later is the most likely possibility.

MD Brian

August 11, 7:12 pm | [comment link]
9. dpeirce wrote:

Commiserations, Va Lutheran; however, the various Anglican Churches in The US have gained much experience in offering shelter to discombobulated faithful ex-episcopalians so give them a call if you need to.

In faith, Dave
Viva Texas

August 11, 7:27 pm | [comment link]
10. wamark wrote:

ELCA pastor in Seattle here ...and I would like to build on your suggestion #9 that orthodox ELCA and Anglicans should help and support one another…maybe even start to build churches together.
It is only a matter of time: the ELCA is now officially a lost cause and the severe membership decline of this morally and theologically confused church will now begin in earnest.  I can now expect to lose many young families from the church I serve starting tomorrow morning.

August 11, 8:13 pm | [comment link]
11. dpeirce wrote:

Wow Wamark! Your future is bleak. Reach out to some orthodox Episcopalians in Seattle; they should be easy to find as that’s the home of TEC’s EpiscoMuslim priestess and there should be some disgusted people around.

In faith, Dave
Viva Texas

August 11, 10:31 pm | [comment link]
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