Friday, February 03, 2012

Bishop Boerger Testifies for "Marriage Equality"

Shirimp here. The headline offers you news, and we'll get to it. But first, we want to offer you some background.

From the ELCA's social statement Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust, Section IV. Sexuality and social structures that enhance social trust:
The church's historical experience supports its confidence that solemn promises, made before a company of witnesses who ask for God's blessing on a man and a woman, have the power to create a unique framework within which two people, a new family, and the community may thrive. Consistent with that experience, this church has confidence that such promises, supported by the contractual framework of civil law, can create a lifetime relationship of commitment and cooperation.

Recognizing that this conclusion differs from the historic Christian tradition and the Lutheran Confessions, some people, though not all, in this church and within the larger Christian community, conclude that marriage is also the appropriate term to use in describing similar benefits, protection, and support for same-gender couples entering into lifelong monogamous relationships. They believe that such accountable relationships also provide the necessary foundation that supports trust and familial and community thriving. Other contractual agreements, such as civil unions, also seek to provide some of these protections and to hold those involved in such relationships accountable to one another and to society.
These are the final two paragraphs in the sub-section entitled, "Marriage: shelter and context for trust."

It is the next sub-section that is headed "Lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships." You know that section, where "This church recognizes that, with conviction and integrity: On the basis of conscience-bound belief, some are convinced that" four contradictory views of same-gender relationships are held, concluding:
Although at this time this church lacks consensus on this matter, it encourages all people to live out their faith in the local and global community of the baptized with profound respect for the conscience-bound belief of the neighbor. This church calls for mutual respect in relationships and for guidance that seeks the good of each individual and of the community. Regarding our life together as we live with disagreement, the people in this church will continue to accompany one another in study, prayer, discernment, pastoral care, and mutual respect.
Trust us, we were emphatically told in 2009, the ELCA is not endorsing same-sex marriages.

In the vein of continuing to accompany one another, Lutherans Concerned/North America reported last week that ELCA Northwest Washington Synod Bishop Wm. Chris Boerger [for those of you reading out loud, that's pronounced "burger"], "testified at a public hearing of the Washington State Senate Committee on Government Operations and Tribal Relations & Elections, saying that he was in favor of LGBT couples being able to have legally-recognized marriages that are equal in the state." LC/NA quotes his testimony:
Mr. Chairman, I am Chris Boerger, the bishop of the Northwest Washington Synod of the Evangelical Church in America. In 2009 the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America voted to commit itself to find ways to allow congregations who choose to do so to support and hold publicly accountable lifelong monogamous same gender relationships. That's quite a mouthful: publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships. One of the people who had questions about our doing this said, "Bishop, isn't that marriage?" And my response is, "Well, in everything but name." The reality is, the Lutheran church has always held that it is the state that defines what marriage is; it's the church that then blesses people who enter into that relationship. We have now stated our desire to bless those who are publicly accountable in lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships. We can't call it marriage--you can. That's why I am here today to say there will be those in my church who will not participate; we understand that freedom. There are those who want to, and we ask for that freedom.
You can watch him here, beginning at about the 1:12:20 point.

"We can't call it marriage--you can."

That brings to our mind Pastor Zip's meditation, ...Gift and Trust, upon reading the social statement the first time back in the spring of 2009, where he focussed on footnote 2 of the (then) proposed statement, which includes:
...Broken promises and betrayed trust through lies, exploitation, and manipulative behavior are exposed, not just as an individual failing, but as an attack on the foundations of our lives as social beings.
and concludes...
Some social scientists have begun to identify social trust as an indispensable feature of healthy organizations, institutions, and whole societies, and social distrust as one of the destructive forces at work in the breakdown and dissolution of organized social arrangements. Such reflections operate in the background of this statement.
And not-so-much in the background of day-to-day life in the ELCA.

Shrimp out.

Friday, January 20, 2012

ELCA Presiding Bishop to Keynote LC/NA Assembly

Shrimp here.

ELCA Presiding Bishop Mark S. Hanson will deliver the Keynote Address at "Reconciling Works 2012," the biennial assembly of Lutherans Concerned / North America and Reconciling in Christ conference in Washington, DC, July 6-10, 2012. According to the web page for the assembly/conference,
Presiding Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Mark S. Hanson will deliver the keynote address to the assembly, following the opening worship on Saturday, July 7, 2012. This is the first time a presiding bishop of any denomination has delivered the keynote address at our assembly.

Mark S. Hanson has served as presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America since 2001. He was elected to a second six-year term in 2007. From 2003 until 2010, he was president of The Lutheran World Federation. He has traveled widely throughout the world, sharing a confident hope in God's promises and a vision of the joyful freedom in Christian community and mission.
Here's more LC/NA promotion of the event:
Reconciling Works 2012 is more than a conference. It is an opportunity to explore and live out the work of reconciliation that we are called to do. Justice requires reconciliation, and reconciliation takes effort. Throughout our time together, we will work on justice issues from the intersection of oppressions (racism, sexism, ablism, etc.) and through the lens of full participation of people of all sexual orientations and gender identities in the life of the Lutheran Church.

We’ll worship together, using a rich variety of traditions of the worshipping community. We’ll provide a blend of the familiar and the unique drawing on our Lutheran heritage and the wealth of liturgical practice in the area. We’ll network with one another, hear stories of joy and frustration, and make decisions together about the future direction of Lutherans Concerned / North America and our Reconciling in Christ communities.
We're left to wonder which intersection of oppressions Presiding Bishop Hanson will address.

Shrimp out.

The good ship ELCA...

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