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Council seeks reconciliation with CCM opponents

The ELCA Church Council at its Nov. 12-14 meeting acknowledged the concerns expressed by some ELCA members as a result of the adoption of Called to Common Mission. Council members pledged "to listen and support efforts to bring understanding and reconciliation within this church."

The action came in response to Susan Engh, a council member from Wayzata, Minn., saying she would attend the Nov. 15-16 conference on CCM.

Council members were divided on whether to speak to the gathering or to the whole church. Some questioned whether a statement should be issued at all. "If the council remains silent, we ignore the bereavement," said Mark Buchheim, Tulsa, Okla. "We can be seen as condescending, but that's better than silence."

In other actions the council:

  • Approved an ELCA message on suicide prevention.

  • Asked the ELCA Department for Research and Evaluation to prepare a "feasibility report" for a possible study on the ordination of noncelibate gay and lesbian people. The report — to come before the April council meeting — will include possible budget implications and time frames for such a study. The action came in response to a 1999 Churchwide Assembly committee referral.

  • Voted to add two farmers to the ELCA rural desk advisory committee. "I'm concerned that the list of [18] members is mainly caregivers," said Steven Koenig, Elwood, Neb. "We also need to listen to the voices of those receiving the care."

    Sandra LaBlanc, ELCA director for rural ministry, said, "This year in Iowa we'll lose 17 percent of our farmers and in Nebraska, 33 percent. This is a 'silent suffering.' " The ELCA can help provide basics such as food, power and mental health care; train clergy in suicide and grief issues; and advocate for better prices and government policies, she said.

  • Approved a one-time allocation of $300,000 to the National Council of Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. to help resolve a $3.5 million deficit.

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