Thursday, February 26, 2009

Florida-Bahamas Synod Bishop Benoway's Statement

Bishop Benoway Speaks on Sexuality Taskforce Recommendations in an Open Letter to Synod Leaders.

This week, Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust, the proposed ELCA social statement on human sexuality, was released to our rostered leaders, the church and the public. I encourage each of you to carefully read and reflect on this statement and the accompanying documents available at the ELCA website: This social statement, prepared after many years of deliberation and study remains open to revision by both the ELCA Church Council and the 2009 Churchwide Assembly that meets in Minneapolis, Aug. 17-23.

The document, Report and Recommendation on Ministry Policies, was also released this week. This report and its recommendations fulfill the 2007 Churchwide Assembly mandate to the Task Force for ELCA Studies on Sexuality to “address and make recommendations on changes to any policies that preclude practicing homosexual persons from the rosters of this church.” (CA07.06.27) This report, along with its accompanying documents, is also available at the ELCA website:

I have read all the documents and certainly commend them to you for careful consideration as rostered leaders of this church. I am confident that most people will appreciate the faithful work of this task force that has spent countless hours in prayer, reading, study, listening, discussion and writing. As a people of God, we may and probably will disagree on the wording, conclusions and recommendations of these documents. However, as the members of the task force point out, “we also have discovered again that our Lutheran heritage equips us well as we wrestle with questions of faithful discernment amid conflicts and complexities.” I am encouraged that the recommendations urge us in the direction of clarifying our principles of being church together before attempting to change practice. We need to deeply respect that fact that while worshiping one Lord, and claiming one faith and one baptism into Christ, we are not of one mind on these important issues facing our church and our world.

It is my sincere hope and prayer that the Florida-Bahamas Synod, which celebrates and honors diversity, will be a model for dialog and mutual respect of those who differ from us. I remain absolutely confident that the unity that we have in Christ Jesus as the center of our lives and faith will hold us together as family of God.

May God bless you and your ministry as we prepare to enter the Lenten season! I look forward to our time together.

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