Friday, August 21, 2009

ELCA Encourges Synod to Implement Sexuality Study

It will be interesting to see what study materials now come out of Augsburg-Fortress to help children fully accept the bi-sexual, transgender, gay and lesbian lifestyle, and if parents will protest at all as it is agressively integrated into the Sunday School and Confirmation programs.....

August 20, 2009
ELCA Assembly Takes Steps to Implement Social Statement on Sexuality
MINNEAPOLIS (ELCA) – Congregations of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America have been asked to implement the newly adopted social statement on human sexuality by continuing the study of sexuality, assist members to welcome people who are gay and lesbians, encourage comprehensive sex education programs in public schools, support the church’s work to combat HIV/AIDS and to take the “spirit of this statement” into all appropriate activities.
In an action taken Aug. 20 by the ELCA Churchwide Assembly, the more than 1,000 voting members of the assembly also asked the church’s publishing house to consider developing materials to help young people and their parents understand Christian values and make “responsible choices” in matters of sexuality; and called upon the church’s theologians, bishops, pastors and educators to “extend theological and biblical reflection as well as theoretical and practical understanding of human sexuality.”
The “implementing resolutions” are intended to begin placing the policies and concerns of the statement, titled “Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust,” into all areas of the church’s work. They were passed by a vote of 695 to 285.
The churchwide assembly, the chief legislative authority of the ELCA, is meeting here Aug. 17-23 at the Minneapolis Convention Center. About 2,000 people are participating, including 1,045 ELCA voting members. The theme for the biennial assembly is “God’s work. Our hands.”
The resolutions also asked the ELCA’s Board of Pensions to amend its benefit policies to bring them in line with the social statement, presumably to provide benefits for partners of ELCA employees who are in same-gender relationships.
The studies used in developing the social statement should be provided as continuing resources for ELCA members “as long as demand continues,” the resolution said.
The presiding bishop of the ELCA should consider developing worship materials to be used by pastors, individuals and families at the time of divorce, the resolutions said. That proposal provoked some discussion on the floor of the assembly, as some felt that worship materials might “celebrate” divorce.
But Pastor Jean Larson of the Montana Synod said such resources would be useful. “We can compare this to a funeral service, because a divorce is a death,” she said.
The first item in the list of implementing resolutions noted the deep disagreements that exist in the ELCA over issues of sexuality and called upon members of the ELCA to “commit themselves to finding ways to live together faithfully in the midst of disagreements.” A key feature of the statement was the recognition that members of the 4.6 million member denomination hold widely diverging opinions on sexual issues, particularly on homosexuality and whether the church should ordain gay and lesbian pastors who are in committed same-gender relationships.
The resolutions also cited a 2001 message from the ELCA entitled “Commercial Sexual Exploitation” as having “continuing value for the mission and ministry.”
Other resolutions asked the church and its regional synods to continue efforts aimed at preventing sexual harassment and misconduct and said the church should provide “effective resources” for dealing with those matters.
The ELCA Church in Society program and other units of the church should monitor the implementation of the social statement and make a report to the Church Council and future churchwide assemblies.

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