Friday, February 27, 2009

Central/Southern Illinois Synod Bishop's Reflection

Bishop Warren Freiheit of the Central/Southern Illinois Synod writes a...


Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

I regret that my schedule has kept me from sending this e-mail until this time on a Friday, but I did want to express my appreciation for your partnership in ministry, and concern for the comments you may be facing through the coming days in light of the report and recommendations from the Task Force for ELCA Studies on Sexuality.

We may have a variety of reactions to the report and recommendations, and yet I truly commend the Task Force that was given a challenging task and which has faithfully responded to that challenge. We have received a proposed Social Statement and implementing resolutions, which is in response to a Resolution from the 2001 Churchwide Assembly in Indianapolis, as well as recommendations on rostering which is in response to a resolution from the 2007 Churchwide Assembly in Chicago. The two documents are independent of each other except for the fact they are the products of the same Task Force.

My colleague, Bishop Peter Rogenss of the St. Paul Area Synod, makes a good point when he writes, "it's unfortunate that this social statement – Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust - - will get lost in the public rush to talk about the policy recommendations. Sexuality is a powerful dimension in our lives and badly misunderstood in this culture. We would do well to think long and hard about how to receive it as the gift it is, with the potential to ennoble rather than damage life." My hope is that we can see in this social statement a meaningful document that has taken Scripture, our confessions, and faithful dialogue seriously in an attempt to address the many aspects of human sexuality in a way that will be helpful to God's people.

The responsibilities of the Task Force have now concluded. Synod Councils can still adopt and forward resolutions to the ELCA Church council for consideration by March 11. Memorials passed by Synod Assemblies will be considered by the Memorials Committee and passed on to the Churchwide Assembly which will meet August 17-23, in Minneapolis. May we bathe all these actions in prayer as we seek God's guidance for our Church.

Many in our Synod have indicated that there is little desire for further conversation on the topic of human sexuality, and yet a forum will be available at the Synod Assembly in June to discuss concerns that still may need to be discussed. I will make myself available, as schedule allows, for discussions in congregations or clusters of conversations as we approach the Churchwide Assembly. I will also make myself available for conversation if rostered leaders seek clarification on procedures or possible outcomes. I may not have all the answers, but I am certainly willing to walk together with this synod as we face our concerns together.

May God continue to bless you as you are a blessing to this Church.

Bishop Warren D. Freiheit

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