Sunday, November 23, 2008

ELCA: Majority Vote for Gay Ordination?

Shrimp here.

The ELCA Church Council is recommending that any changes in ministry standards presented by the ELCA Task Force on Human Sexuality be able to be approved by a simple majority, the ELCA News Service reported here Friday afternoon.
The Church Council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) recommended rules of procedure to the 2009 ELCA Churchwide Assembly, focusing discussion on votes related to social statements and recommendations from a task force report, both of which will be considered at the next assembly.

The Church Council is the ELCA's board of directors and serves as the legislative authority of the church between churchwide assemblies. The council met here Nov. 14-17. Assemblies are held every other year; the next is Aug. 17-23, 2009, in Minneapolis.

The council's actions related to a proposed social statement on human sexuality, currently in the final writing stages, and a separate report with recommendations on ministry standards. Both documents are being prepared by a task force. They will become public Feb. 19, 2009, and will be transmitted by the council with recommendations to the 2009 assembly for consideration.

The social statement was requested by the 2001 ELCA Churchwide Assembly. The 2007 Churchwide Assembly requested the task force report and recommendations. That assembly asked the task force to "specifically address and make recommendations to the 2009 Churchwide Assembly on changes to any policies that preclude practicing homosexual persons from the rosters of this church." The ELCA maintains a roster of its ordained clergy and three rosters of its lay ministers: associates in ministry, deaconesses and diaconal ministers.

The council recommended the 2009 Churchwide Assembly retain rules that require a two-thirds vote to adopt social statements and amendments to the ELCA Constitution and Bylaws, both required by the ELCA Constitution. It declined two proposals to recommend that a two-thirds vote be required to adopt recommendations or resolutions related to a task force report. If the assembly agrees, only a simple majority will be needed for such proposals under Robert's Rules of Order, unless the proposals call for constitutional or bylaw changes, said David D. Swartling, ELCA secretary.

The Rev. Mark S. Hanson, ELCA presiding bishop, abstained from voting on the rules because he chairs the assembly, he told the council. Swartling reminded the council that the churchwide assembly has the final say on its rules of procedure.
You can read the full report of Church Council actions here.

Of course, the ELCA Constitution requires a 2/3rds majority for social statements, so either the Church Council is recommending that the Assembly follow the ELCA Constitution or the reporting of that particularitem is confused. As for ministry standards, those who remember that changes to them presented at the 2005 Churchwide Assembly required a 2/3rds majority need to remember that was the rules recommended by that ELCA Church Council. The current standards were established by the ELCA Church Council in 1990, a vote that only required a simple majority of that body. Traditionalists might, therefore, be thankful that the Church Council hasn't already just changed the rules by its own majority vote. Apparently the ELCA's leadership -- and his abstention notwithstanding that clearly includes the Presiding Bishop -- have decided to pass that buck to the Churchwide Assembly, and have overcome the sense from 2005 that approving in-same-sex relationship GLBTQ pastors (and other rostered leaders) ought to require a very positive vote.

Lutheran CORE's Executive Director Pastor Mark Chavez offers a fuller report of the Church Council's actions here, along with some thoughts of his own, of the Church Council's actions. Of course, we'll post that here ourselves in a few moments.

Shrimp pausing....

No comments:

The good ship ELCA...

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