Respectfully disagreeing

The Syracuse Post-Standard reports on the respectful debate at both the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and The Episcopal Church (TEC) conventions as they approved measures on full inclusion of gay and lesbian clergy.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America made welcome history last week when it voted to allow gay men and lesbians in committed relationships to serve as clergy. Local ELCA Bishop Marie Jerge, who supported the change in a 559-451 vote at the denomination’s national meeting in Minnesota, summed up the spectrum of reactions. “Some have threatened to leave,” she said. “Others are hurting. Others are rejoicing.”

A similar response came last month when the Episcopal Church, the U.S. branch of the Anglican Church, approved a resolution that affirms that gay men and lesbians are eligible for “any ordained ministry” and approved a measure to develop resources for the blessing of same-sex unions.

The article notes:

Social change comes slowly — and sometimes even more slowly when it involves organized religion. Consider the rocky road to women’s ordination.

The 2006 Episcopal convention made history when its delegates affirmed the election of Katharine Jefferts Schori as the first woman to lead the national church. But she has hardly been greeted with open arms throughout the larger Worldwide Anglican Communion.

In 1976, the Episcopal Church approved the ordination of women. Two years earlier, 11 women — including Syracuse’s Betty Bone Schiess — had challenged church law by being ordained priests in an ceremony officially considered illicit.

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