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luther-roseFor more on the 2009 ELCA assembly, click here.

On August 20, 2009, ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) members attending the 11th Annual Churchwide Assembly set forth their points of view concerning the upcoming vote on ordaining sexually active gays. 

The following comments are courtesy from a Lutheran at the conference who posted them on Free Republic.  I hope that s/he doesn’t mind if I give you a sample of the sentiment that day.  To read the comments in more detail, along with names and location, please click here.  Emphasis is mine in the following excerpts.

‘The Assembly began with breakfast and “table talk”, small group discussion around tables, and then they convened in plenary.

‘As the public session began, two speakers expressed great concern that following the adoption of the social statement yesterday, there was loud applause and cheers. It was noted that our rules declare this kind of response to be out of order, and the PB [Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson] did nothing to call the assembly to order. The cheers were hurtful to those whose “bound conscience” were sorely wounded. The PB agreed, and apologized for his mistake.’

‘I live and serve within the Episcopal diocese of Ft. Worth, and I’ve seen this train wreck before. The fall out in that diocese of the Episcopal Church’s ministry decisions has been terrible, and I do not want us to see this in our church.’ 

‘I had twin brothers, both gay; one drank himself to death at 31, I think because he could not believe that God loved him. Supporting the rostering of gay and lesbian persons will be a sign, role models in the church who are like them.’

‘The ELCA encouraged me to read the Bible through the Book of Faith initiative. I did that. I have come to a different conclusion than the task force. I understand the pain and anguish of those in same sex relationships; I wish I could support their rostering, but I cannot in good conscience.’ 

‘Many compare this issue to ordination of women or of divorced people. As a divorced woman pastor, I do not believe these are comparable. As to women, there are many passages that speak positively about the leadership roles of women; there are no such passages relative to homosexuality. As to divorce, I am humbly forgiven of my sin. In no way have I tried to define my sin as a good. I agree the passages speaking against homosexuality can be interpreted in a way that sees them as irrelevant to contemporary issues; but the clear witness of Scripture is that God made man and woman for each other.’

‘Is the Holy Spirit calling us to affirm the life choices of our gay/lesbian brothers and sisters? But if the Holy Spirit is speaking to us, why is the Holy Spirit not speaking to our brothers and sisters in the Roman Catholic, United Methodist, Orthodox, Presbyterian churches? Are they deaf to the Spirit, and we can hear what no one else can hear? We believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, and the vast majority of Christians worldwide would not consider what we are being asked to do today.

Then, the Assembly heard written questions and comments, some of which follow:

‘If these are adopted, policies will have to be developed with attention to differences of opinion and respect of the bound conscience. No one will be required to act contrary to their consciences.

‘Missionaries taught us the Bible is the Word of God. Today their descendants are telling us the Bible is not to be read faithfully, but to be changed. Am I to accept church has a new revelation from God? That God is imperfect, he has gained new insight? Who is setting moral standards for the church? The ELCA wants to bring its witness to people of colour. You say you want ethnic diversity, but you pay no attention to us. We have been praying that these recommendations fail.’

‘How can the ELCA compare a few years of study with over 2000 years of Christian tradition? The cross is not a rabbit’s foot to be rubbed like a warm fuzzy. God gave us guidelines to live by. The purpose of the law is prepare us and point us to the gospel.’

‘For the sake of Lutheran unity, we must vote against these resolutions.’

The person typing these up for Free Republic concluded the report by saying, ‘There was a good bit of anger among some on the “traditionalist” side that the “resource people” were given a pretty good block of time during this supposed “open discussion” of the ministry recommendations. The resource people, largely from the task force and the churchwide staff, were perceived (rightly, in my view) as being advocates for the proposed changes, and were generally not held to their time limit by the PB.’

Later on, a Lutheran pastor contributed his parody of ‘Y.M.C.A.‘ to Free Republic.  No, it wasn’t part of the Assembly proceedings.  Here’s an excerpt:

It’s fun to be in the E.L.C.A.
It’s fun to be in the E.L.C.A.
You can set yourself free
From dead orthodoxy,
You can do whatever you please.

Won’t you please come along
To the Elca,
Where’s there’s no right or wrong.
In the Elca,
Heretics can belong,
They can teach at seminary.

But our fingers were crossed,
All our doctrine
Has been totally lost.
All that’s Luth’ran
Is what we have embossed
On our cards and stationery

Where I grew up, almost all the Lutheran churches are ELCA.  So, if the people there want to stay Lutheran now, they’ll have to drive quite a distance to reach an LCMS (Lutheran Church Missouri Synod) or a WELS (Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod) church.  I feel bad for people who might be obliged to change congregations or denominations.  Some did a few years ago.  Some are thinking about it now, but we’ll get to that in a few posts.

Tomorrow: The results of the ELCA Assembly vote

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