After extending debate to allow more delegates to speak, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada defeated (183-220) a motion that would have allowed pastors and congregations to provide blessing ceremonies for same-sex couples.
Taken by secret ballot, the vote at the denomination’s July 21-24 national convention in Winnipeg fell far short of the two-thirds approval needed to pass the proposal.
Delegates overwhelmingly passed a second resolution welcoming the participation of gays and lesbians in the life of the church.
“Our community is divided almost 50-50,” ELCIC National Bishop Raymond Schultz told Ecumenical News International. “That means we have a lot more talking to do with each other.”
The vote came nearly a year after the church’s national council began studying the issue, and less than one week after Canada joined three other countries (Belgium, Netherlands, Spain) in permitting legal marriage for gay and lesbian couples. The new law doesn’t require churches to perform such marriages.
Because of the new law, Schultz said the 180,000-member denomination must come up with a statement “to clarify for ourselves as achurch what is the differencebetween marriage in the church and marriage by the state and what is the basis for relationship.”
The convention also re-elected Schultz to a four-year term as national bishop.
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