Editor's note: This week's e-newsletter is something different. We're offering e-newsletter subscribers a free download of one of this month's discussion guides. Each month, The Lutheran offers two study guides for use in congregation adult forums and confirmation classes. Study guides are free downloads for print subscribers and Web members, $3.50 each for others. This week, study guide author Rob Blezard has prepared a guide to help congregations prepare to study the ELCA "Draft Social Statement on Human Sexuality."
Discussion guide: “Draft Social Statement on Human Sexuality”
Churches the world over are dealing with issues of human sexuality, including homosexuality, with varying degrees of controversy and strife. The ELCA is no exception. The "Draft Statement on Human Sexuality" represents the ELCA's effort to root our church's discussions and policy in the rich soil of Scripture, the Lutheran Confessions and our particularly Lutheran way of working through moral and ethical issues.
What follows is a guide for how your congregation or small group can explore and discuss the draft in a way that leads everyone to new and better understandings of the issues, our Lutheran faith and our identities as sexual beings created in the image of God. The purpose of this study guide is not to tell you what to think, but rather how to engage in a process that will be helpful in looking at the statement.
Before you dive into the statement
1) Be sure everyone is aware of exactly what a draft social statement is and knows the steps necessary for it to become a proposed social statement, and then an officially adopted social statement of the ELCA. Guidance for this can be found on pages I and II of the draft. For details, you can look at "Policies and Procedures of the ELCA for Addressing Social Concerns," which explains how social statements are developed and implemented.
2) Be sure that everyone understands the scope of the draft. The issue concerns human sexuality in general, and many of the practical issues are not dealt with. For instance, ordination of gay and lesbian pastors (and other rostered leaders) who wish to have intimate same-sex relationships is left for another recommendation. That recommendation is expected to be released in February 2009.
3) Be certain that everyone understands the church's current policy on sexuality for rostered leaders (pastors, associates in ministry and diaconal ministers). As outlined in "Vision & Expectations," sex is permitted only in the context of heterosexual marriage. Unmarried rostered leaders, whether heterosexual or homosexual, are expected to be celibate. The church has no provision for marriage between same-sex people. For details, see "Vision & Expectations: Ordained Ministers in the ELCA," and "Vision & Expectations: Commissioned Associates in Ministry." The draft social statement changes nothing in "Vision & Expectations."
This week's front page features:
Saving history: North Dakota organization works to preserve prairie churches. (Photo at right.)
Banking on the church's promise: In Tanzania, a Lutheran bank invests in lives and reaps the profits.
AFP turnaround 5 years in making: Beth Lewis' tenure has included product and resource launches.
Also: Raising her voice.
Also: Point & click.
Kathleen Kastilahn (right) uses Earth Day to reflect on God's creation.Sonia Solomonson blogs about leading with fear.
Worship opinions needed
Participate in an upcoming cover story in The Lutheran by responding to one or more of these questions:
1. Worship: What do congregational members want? What do worshipers need?
2. Worship in ELCA congregations varies but essential elements remain. What are those elements for you?
3. How do we both honor traditional liturgy and make room for other worship styles?
Respond (500 words or less) via e-mail to email@example.com by May 20.
Please include your congregation, city and state.Or respond online ...
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