Saturday, March 15, 2008

Star Tribune: "ELCA Stays Neutral..."

The Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune begins its report:

ELCA stays neutral in sexuality statement

The Lutherans' draft report sets the stage for a debate on gay ordination at their 2009 convention in Minneapolis.


Facing a likely vote on the ordination of gays at the 2009 national convention, which will be held in Minneapolis, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) on Thursday issued its Draft Statement on Human Sexuality. Seven years in the making, the report does not take a specific stand on gay ordination -- that will come in a position paper to be released in about a year -- but it does lay the groundwork for the impending debate.

"This is a social statement, not a policy statement," said the chairman of the task force that prepared the report, Bishop Peter Strommen of the Northeastern Minnesota Synod based in Duluth. Though the report addresses a wide range of subjects, he acknowledged that "the section on same-gender relationships is going to be the flashpoint."

Readers will look for hints on which way sentiment is running on gay issues but won't find any, he warned: "After many years of study and conversation, this church does not have consensus regarding loving and committed same-gender relationships," the 50-page document reads.

That lack of unanimity is reflected in the report. At one point, it says the church supports sexual relations only within the context of a "binding commitment, such as marriage," which it goes on to describe as "a structure of mutual promise between a man and a woman." But it also concedes that an argument can be made that fidelity outranks legal status. Homosexual relationships that "are chaste, monogamous and lifelong are to be held to the same rigorous standards and sexual ethics as all others."

Church leaders hope to keep the debate grounded in church ethics, Strommen said. "We don't want to turn this into a culture war. As a church, we have far more in common than we have differences."
Read it all here, especially for quotes from Bishop Peter Strommen of the Northeastern Minnesota Synod, who is the Task Force Chair.

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The good ship ELCA...

The good ship ELCA...
Or the Shellfish blog...