Saturday, July 16, 2005

Solid Rock Lutherans hold news conference in Chicago in front of the ELCA headquarters building to announce opposition to proposals

On Tuesday, July 12, Solid Rock Lutherans held a news conference in Chicago in front of the ELCA headquarters building to announce its opposition to ELCA proposals to allow the ordination of some non-celibate gays and lesbians as pastors and to allow the blessing of same-sex unions. Bishop Paull Spring, chairman of SRL, and Pastor Jaynan Clark Egland, a board member, represented Solid Rock Lutherans. A news release was also distributed, along with a background memo. The text of the news release is included below.

Roy Harrisville III
Executive Director, Solid Rock Lutherans

Traditional Lutherans call on church not to 'divide our house'

A majority seeks to defend church tradition against homosexuality proposals.

Harrisville, III

Executive Director

Solid Rock Lutherans

St. Paul, Minn.


CHICAGO - Two leaders of Solid Rock Lutherans, Inc., a large reform movement within the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), today will announce their movement's strong opposition to ELCA proposals that would allow the ordination of gays and lesbians in same-sex relationships and open the door to blessing such relationships.

A news conference will be held in front of ELCA headquarters at 8765 W.
Higgins Road in Chicago, Ill. Solid Rock Lutherans, Inc. is an umbrella organization for groups and individuals who oppose drastic change in the ELCA's standards for sexual conduct and ordination.

Before boarding the plane to come to the news conference, Pastor Paull Spring, former bishop of the Northwestern Pennsylvania Synod of the ELCA and chairman of Solid Rock Lutherans, lamented, "I am deeply concerned for the future of my church. The ELCA is considering truly radical proposals to allow the ordination of non-celibate homosexuals and bless same-sex unions.
These proposals have no basis in scripture and will, I'm afraid, wreak havoc within the church I love."

Comparing what is happening in the ELCA to similar events in the Episcopal Church (USA), Spring continued. "We've already seen the damage caused to the Episcopal Church by their approval of one openly gay man, Gene Robinson, as a bishop. This action has led to a loss of membership and giving and has strained and fractured the worldwide Anglican Communion."

Pastor Jaynan Clark Egland of Spokane, Wash., a Solid Rock Lutherans board member, picked up on the same point. "The upcoming vote may well be the ELCA's Gene Robinson moment," Clark Egland said.

The new sexuality proposals will be voted on by the 1,018 voting members to the ELCA Churchwide Assembly to be held Aug. 8 - 14 in Orlando, Fla. The ELCA, with just under 5 million members, is the largest Lutheran denomination in America.

At a large gathering in April, Pastor Clark Egland challenged supporters by declaring, "Someone needs to ask the ELCA, 'By what authority do you intend to do these things?' Certainly our leaders don't believe that they can un-sin sin for certain people in specific places. Do we really want to make room for that kind of practice? Talk about setting a precedent."

Commenting recently on the weak demand for such changes within the church, Clark Egland said, "Lutherans across America support traditional church teachings on sexuality by a 2 to 1 majority. More than 28,000 Lutherans who last year took part in a church wide Bible study on the subject rejected change by a 2 to 1 ratio. Solid Rock Lutherans even polled the entire 5 million-member church - and tradition won again by a similar 2 to 1 margin."
Clark Egland summed up by saying, "Those calling for the ordination of practicing homosexuals and the blessing of homosexual unions may be loud, but they are certainly few."

Solid Rock Lutherans is deeply concerned about the possible consequences of its church rejecting settled church teachings. Spring referred to a recent article by noted theologian Robert Benne in the July issue of "The Lutheran," the official magazine of the ELCA. "Matthew 12:25 calls into question whether our church can endure being divided against itself on matters so fundamental as sexuality and marriage. We believe that a relatively small number of activists are seeking to force drastic changes upon the ELCA. If these proposals are adopted, the consequences for our church are likely to be severe - lost congregations, lost members and lost giving. We urge all ELCA voting members to defeat these proposals," said Spring.

Solid Rock Lutherans was formed two years ago to oppose proposed changes in ELCA doctrine on sexuality. As stated in the organization's introductory brochure, Solid Rock Lutherans is dedicated to upholding the current Biblical and Lutheran confessional standards of the ELCA on sexual conduct and ordination. The organization believes that the Word of God affirms the union of woman and man in the bond of marriage as the only proper setting for sexual relations and that only those who are guided by this Word be considered for ordination.

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