The Episcopal Church and the Canadian Anglican Church are not the only denominations that will confront the issue of same sex realtionships this year. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (“ELCA”), the largest Lutheran denomination in the United States will next week at their biannual assembly in Chicago.
Front and center will be the issue of ordaining ministers in relationships with same sex partners. The current policy requires celibacy of its GLBT clergy, and the proposal would be to allow clergy to remain in good standing as long as they were in committed relationships:
Married ordained ministers are expected to live in fidelity to their spouses, giving expression to sexual intimacy within a marriage relationship that is mutual, chaste, and faithful. Ordained ministers who are homosexual in their self-understanding are expected to abstain from homosexual sexual relationships.
The full policy can be found here.
According to Eillen Flynn of the Austin American Statesman, over 80 Lutheran ministers will come “out” on Tuesday in an effort to affect this debate:
Are you serious, I thought when I heard the voice mail. More than 80 Lutheran ministers will go public with their homosexual identity next week? Mind you, these clergy members serve a comparatively liberal branch of Lutheranism, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
But still, many of those coming out on Tuesday are in homosexual relationships, and the ELCA restricts ordination to heterosexuals who are faithful in marriage or celibate homosexuals. As it happens, the ELCA will be debating the issue of dropping the celibacy requirement for gay ministers at its biennial assembly next week in Chicago.
I got the phone message about next week’s press conference from a fellow with Lutherans Concerned/North America, a group that supports people of “all sexual orientations and gender identities.”
Now again, this is the liberal Lutheran denomination — not the Missouri Synod, which takes a much harsher stance on homosexuality. But still, the ELCA, like most mainline Protestant churches, does have a celibacy rule. And if church leaders don’t change that policy at this convention, aren’t these folks putting their collars on the line?
Read it all here.