On Friday, Aug. 12—at the end of a full day of difficult and often-impassioned debate—the Churchwide Assembly defeated the proposed change to permit exceptions regarding expectations for sexual conduct of gay or lesbian rostered leaders (recommendation 3). The 490-503 vote fell far short of the two-thirds required for adoption.
The change to the bylaws would have allowed synod bishops to seek exceptions from the Conference of Bishops “to permit the assignment of a candidate who provides evidence of intent to live in a lifelong, committed and faithful same-sex relationship,” and for the synod bishops to ordain or commission the candidates.
Two hours earlier, members had passed 670-323 an amended provision asking that this church “trust pastors and congregations to discern ways to provide faithful pastoral care to all to whom they minister.” The original of recommendation 2 specified “same-sex couples.”
The day began with a 851-127 vote for recommendation 1, the Task Force for ELCA Studies on Sexuality’s call for all in the ELCA to “concentrate on finding ways to live together faithfully in the midst of disagreements ... as members of the body of Christ.”
Voting members faced not only the three proposals from the Church Council based on the task force’s recommendations but also 15 amendments and substitute motions.
Clarity and flexibility were key concerns as 80 voting members brought up issues of scriptural authority and interpretation, ecumenical relationships and ministry with and by gay and lesbian people.
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