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Lutheran Task Force Supports Couple Recognition

Timothy Kincaid

February 21st, 2009

A task force of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ECLA) was assigned the task of reviewing the church’s policy on recognition of gay pastors and making a recommendation to the body. The current policy is that gay ministers may serve, but must remain celibate.

The task force has concluded that those churches who wish to have a gay pastor in a committed relationship should be able to do so:

A task force of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America recommended Thursday that its leaders make changes to allow gay and lesbians in committed relationships to serve as clergy.

Making this change gave birth to a larger question: if they allow non-celibate gay pastors, what rules apply? Surely they couldn’t just say that heterosexuals must be married but gays can play the field. So they decided that the church must establish some means by which it can determine which gay ministers are in compliance.

“The task force agreed that this church cannot responsibly consider any changes to its policies unless this church is able and willing in some way to recognize lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships,” the report said.

The task force did not define the recognition, other than that it should include commitments, public accountability, and prayer.

The denomination will vote on the recommendation in August in a four part process.

With 4.7 million members, the ECLU is the fifth largest denomination in the United States, and if they adopt the recommendations of the task force they will be the largest denomination in the United States to recognize same-sex relationships.

Comments

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Pomo
February 21st, 2009 | LINK

We’re slowing coming around. My church is welcoming but I can’t yet get married within its walls even though the pastors would support it. The ELCA will get there eventually…

Piper
February 21st, 2009 | LINK

Yeah, the key word is “Eventually”! As an ELCA member since birth ,(parents met at the church, so it’s always been a second home) I remember so many conventions when I was in high school where this was the biggest issue, and we got no where! although even though I was in the very conservative NTNL synod (Northern Texas Northern Louisiana) there were always a few people there who were opening up slowly.

Lutherans NEVER do anything with speed. They look at the issue from 360% at least 100 hundred times and then convene several different committees to decide how the issue should be studied then more committees to set up a committee of theologians to biblically study the texts that apply to the issues. And if they don’t come to a unanimous decision they start all over again! ( I’m exaggerating I know, it just gets really old after awhile!)

PSUdain
February 22nd, 2009 | LINK

I cried when I saw the recommendations (happily, not sadly). As an ELCA member since birth, and as an active member of my campus Lutheran community, I’ve been watching this for a while. I had a date with a printer right around 1pm on Thursday when they released the recommendations and the Statement on Human Sexuality.

No, they didn’t go all the way, but I didn’t expect them to touch any kind of relationship recognition…

I think it’s a good start; now we just have to get it passed at Churchwide Assembly.

PSUdain
February 22nd, 2009 | LINK

Did not mean at all to steal piper’s phrase…accidental echo there…

Piper
February 23rd, 2009 | LINK

PSUdain, I think you and I are in the same boat here.

I remember once in high school I had a friend who to make a long story short I hit on the back of the head because he made a very homophobic and rude statement. Three years later, when he was on break from TLU (Texas Lutheran U) he asked me to look at a paper he had written. He had written a paper in defense of gay clergy, and he said that had it not been for people like me constantly challenging him he never would have gotten to that point.

I know for a fact that the Lutheran Church (at least ELCA)can come out on the side of equality. They just need some gentle nudges. ( shoves will just scare the church back into the closet)

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