The Evangelical Lutheran Church of America has been meeting in Chicago, and the big topic has been waht to do with GLBT clergy. The current policy is that only celibate GLBT clergy are allowed, and an effort to reverse that policy failed. Today, however, the ELCA passed a resolution that effectively seeks a moritorium on the enforcement of this polcy until the issue is again addressed in 2009:
For the first time, clergy in same-sex committed relationships can serve the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America without threat of discipline to them, their congregations or their bishops.
The historic decision, made today at a national assembly at Navy Pier, was spearheaded by Bishop Paul Landahl of the Metropolitan Chicago Synod.
A day earlier, attendees voted down a measure that would have ended a ban on non-celibate gay clergy. But Saturday’s vote calls on church leaders to “refrain from or demonstrate restraint” in disciplining those who violate the policy.
“It’s a huge victory,” said Jeremy Posadas, 26, a voting church member from Decatur, Ga. “The gospel of inclusion has won and we’re going to keep winning.”
But the Rev. Mark Chavez, leader of Lutheran CORE, a group that says non-celibate gays shouldn’t serve as pastors, called the decision “tragic.”
“This decision will be an excuse for bishops to disobey ELCA policy,” he said. “This decision does not reflect the will of the people, but of bishops and clergy who disregard God’s word.”
Read it all here.
As usual, Father Jake has good coverage. He found the wording of the actual resolution:
Resolved, that in an effort to continue as a church in moral deliberation without further strife and pain to its members the churchwide assembly prays, urges, and encourages synods, synodical bishops, and the presiding bishop to refrain from and demonstrate restraint in disciplining those congregations and persons who call into the rostered ministry otherwise-qualified candidates who are in a mutual, chaste, and faithful committed same-gender relationship, and be it further
Resolved, that the churchwide assembly prays, urges, and encourages synods, synodical bishops, and the presiding bishop to refrain from and demonstrate restraint in disciplining those rostered leaders in a mutual, chaste, and faithful committed same-gender relationship who have been called and rostered in this church.
Read it all here.
Read Jake's post here.
So what is going on? I think that the ELCA was fearful of taking a big step now. In light of what is happening to the Episcopal Church, who can blame them? They therefore postponed all issues of sexuality to 2009. Clearly, however, they did not stomach the idea of defrocking GLBT clergy in the meantime.