MINNEAPOLIS (ELCA) - Two groups with widely diverging opinions on
the social statement adopted Aug. 19 by the Evangelical Lutheran Church
in America praised the church for its action and denounced what some
consider a departure from biblical morality.
"The church has supported families of all kinds and has acknowledged
without judgment the variety of views within the ELCA regarding lesbian,
gay, bisexual and transgender inclusion," said Emily Eastwood, executive
director of Lutherans Concerned/North America, an advocacy group for gays
and lesbians in the church.
But the Rev. Paull Spring, chair of Lutheran CORE, a coalition of
conservative ELCA Lutherans, said, "We mourn the decision by the
Churchwide Assembly to reject the clear teaching of the Bible that God's
intention for marriage is the relationship of one man and one woman."
Paull Spring of State College, Pa., a former bishop in the ELCA,
added "It is tragic that such a large number of ELCA members were willing
to overturn the clear teaching of the Bible as it has been believed and
confessed by Christians for nearly 2,000 years."
The churchwide assembly, the chief legislative authority of the ELCA
is meeting here Aug. 17-23 at the Minneapolis Convention Center. About
2,000 people are participating, including 1,044 ELCA voting members. The
theme for the biennial assembly is "God's work. Our hands."
CORE leaders said they would continue to work against future
policies that would enable gay and lesbian pastors who are in committed
relationships to serve in the church's public ministry. CORE also opposes
the blessing of same-sex unions, which, while not specifically mentioned
in the social statement, has become the practice in some ELCA parishes.
Eastwood said the document makes it easier for congregations to
bless gay and lesbian couples. "The document recognizes the ministries of
congregations which conduct blessings of same-gender relationships and
same gender marriages where such marriages are legal," she said. "We
celebrate in particular the emphasis of the social statement on the
centrality of family in the life of church and society - all families
While the most controversial part of the statement was its greater
acceptance of gays and lesbians, Eastwood also said the document would be
a basis for "advocacy on issues related to families and sexuality" in
church and society.
The Rev. Erma Wolf of Brandon, S.D., vice-chair of CORE lamented
what she called the divisiveness of the issue. "The ELCA is a very
divided church," she said, "This decision divides us even more. It is
going to be very hard for faithful Lutherans to support the ELCA when the
ELCA is willing to reject the clear teaching of Scripture."
Wolf called it a "sad day for Lutherans in the United States."
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Information about the 2009 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
ELCA News Blog: http://www.elca.org/news/blog