Sunday, August 12, 2007

One small step....

On Saturday, the General Assembly of the ELCA voted to ask its bishops to practice restraint in removing lesbian and gay clergy from churches -- and to send the issue to the committee that will release a major report on human sexuality in 2009.

Well, I guess it's a start. Certainly, it's a lot better than voting to remove them. But, it's a long way from affirming that sexual difference is part of God's blessing to us and that loving a same sex partner does not exclude one from God's service in the ministry.

Here's the excerpt for Goodsoil. Go there for more details about what happensed

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) decided to encourage its bishops to refrain from or demonstrate restraint in the discipline of rostered ministers in committed same-gender relationships. While the assembly deferred outright elimination of its policy that prohibits LGBT ministers from living in loving, lifelong family relations with their life partner, asked the church to prepare for such decision at its next assembly in 2009.

Emily Eastwood, Executive Director, Lutherans Concerned/North America said,
Today this church moved one giant step from the punitive rejection of partnered LGBT ministers to the willing tolerance of them. We see this decision as interim. Full inclusion and acceptance is still down the road, but the dam of discrimination has been broken. This is a great day for LGBT clergy who will walk into their pulpits tomorrow knowing perhaps for the first time that this church values their gifts for ministry more than the policy that would exclude them. The church is on the road to acceptance. The end of exclusion is in sight. With this decision the voting members signaled a desire for policy change, but the need for two more years to bring more of the church along.

You can't be just a little pregnant. I don't think you can be just a little welcoming and inclusive. But, let's pray that Emily is right: it's a new day and a new beginning.


Kelly Fryer said...

I wish that what happened at Navy Pier was really as dramatic and important as the media is reporting...and that it was as big of a victory as my friends in this movement would like to believe. It was, as you rightly say, more of a "small step." The bottom line is still that Lutherans are NOT allowing pastors in gay relationships! I was at this assembly, blogging about it at And what I saw were a bunch of very tired people agreeing to give their bishops some space. This was in no way, I do not believe, an affirmation of the gifts gay and lesbian pastors offer. It was deference to and concern for bishops who have been put in the middle of a mess. It was an attempt to keep the peace…just like every other resolution that passed during this assembly. The reports are overblown. Unfortunately! There is a lot of work to be done in order to effect REAL change in this denomination. I’ve posted 10 things I believe need to happen in order for change to occur. These are things that we on the left need to do. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Anonymous said...

I disagree a bit with my friend Kelly. The delegates, by about 55-45, wanted to retain the traditional stance, but when it came to actual cases--people actually being punished--they didn't want to go that far. (Lutherans, after all, are "nice" people.)

The principle is fine, but we don't want people to actually suffer for it.zpkmolt

Kelly Fryer said...

John - it's been fun following you around the blogosphere. I can see how you would interpret the vote that way and you might be right. But the voters I talked to on the floor of the assembly immediately following that last vote were just TIRED...and they said they were voting for their bishops...not for gay and lesbian pastors. Still, it moves us forward.

By the way, the link in my previous post is wrong. I'm at

Debra W. Haffner said...

A Lutheran minister sent me a comment offline and gave me permission to post:

"Lutheran" use and understanding of chaste probably comes from the translation of Luther's small catechism explanation of the meaning of the 6th commandment: Thou shalt not commit adultery: "We should fear and love God so that we lead a chaste and pure life in word and deed, and that husband and wife love and honor each other." I've always translated that to mean "No hanky panky between spouses" Simple enough ?