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NRLR Responds to Endorsement of Policy Changes by the Council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America
WASHINGTON - April 1 - The National Religious Leadership Roundtable, convened by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, responded to the announcement by the church council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) directing the churchwide assembly in August to approve the "Social Statement on Human Sexuality," implement it, and direct the removal of the policy that prohibited service in ministry by those in committed, same-gender relationships. Also, the church council reaffirmed its recommendation to the August assembly on rules to govern its activities by defeating a motion that would have required a super-majority of the voting members to pass not only the social statement but also any matters that came before the assembly on any related subject.
Statement by Emily Eastwood, Executive Director Lutherans Concerned/North America (LC/NA) National Religious Leadership Roundtable Member
"The Social Statement on Human Sexuality acknowledges what we have known for the last 30 years, that we Lutherans are not of one mind on issues of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) inclusion. Still, this document recognizes that LGBT people are, and always have been, part of the great diversity of God's creation - finally.
"The statement lifts up a common ethical standard for straight and gay alike, but, sadly fails to endorse a right or a rite of same-gender blessing or marriage. At the same time, however, the statement acknowledges that individual congregations of the ELCA are already offering such rites which inherently hold couples publicly accountable for living exemplary lives of fidelity, mutuality and respect. Ultimately the church and society cannot rightly expect monogamy (being married to one person at a time) without offering a rite of marriage to same-gender couples.
"For the first time in the history of our church, a recommendation for the elimination of the policy of discrimination against ministers in same-gender relationships will come to the floor of the churchwide assembly, brought by the churchwide organization itself. The council recommendation takes a major step for justice and equality. But this is an interim step. Next comes synod assemblies where synods can weigh in. And then the churchwide assembly, its deliberations and final action. So we are cautious and have much work to do.
"Also, this action by the church council to defeat any attempt to change voting procedures is one of basic fairness in the middle of a process. Any suggestion to change the rules at the last minute, would be seen as prejudicing the outcome based on the content of the report and recommendations. We applaud this action of the council and pray that the assembly will follow suit.
"There is much work yet to be done. The church is not yet where its council now says it wants to be, but it is clearly on the right path. LC/NA is committed to the process, delights in this progress, and hopes for a church and a world that truly welcome and include."
About the author: Emily Eastwood is the executive director of Lutherans Concerned/North America (LC/NA), which embodies, inspires, advocates and organizes for the acceptance and full participation of people of all sexual orientations and gender identities within the Lutheran communion and its ecumenical and global partners.