The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Synods send human sexuality statement, other concerns to Churchwide Assembly

At presstime 16 of the 28 synods reporting from their assemblies had given a green light to the “Social Statement on Human Sexuality” and the “Report and Recommendations on Ministry Policies.” Ten called for a two-thirds vote if any changes are made in rostering gay and lesbian people in committed relationships.

dale horckey<BR><BR>Candles mark places
Candles mark places in the world to remember in prayer during worship at the Rocky Mountain Synod assembly in May.

A handful of synods asked that resources be developed “for ministers and congregations who choose to do so to support same-gender relationships by holding them publicly accountable for promises of lifelong love and fidelity made before their family community” and asked that rostered people or candidates for ministry be reinstated if such changes are made.

Other memorials moving from synods to the Churchwide Assembly in Minneapolis Aug. 17-23 deal with immigration, torture and interrogation, Israel and Palestine, the environment, justice for women and disabilities.

Rocky Mountain Synod
April 30-May 2, El Paso, Texas

Asked for a social statement on justice for women.

• Encouraged congregations to study immigration issues, advocate for humane immigration reform from the local to the national level, and reach out and accompany undocumented and immigrant people in making communities safe and welcoming.

• Urged adoption of the sexuality statement and ministry policies document.

• Directed the ELCA to implore, encourage and request congressional leaders, by legislative and investigative action, to make clear that brutal interrogations of the recent past are illegal and immoral.

Eastern Washington-Idaho Synod
May 1-3, Yakima, Wash.

• Directed the ELCA to ask the U.S. government to account for the amount of taxpayer money being used by Israel, and that the ELCA encourage and support efforts by the U.S. government to bring Israel into “real negotiations with all of the Palestinian parties to find a peaceful two state settlement,” including removal of Israeli West Bank settlements and returning land to the Palestinians. The resolution also directs the ELCA to ask the U.S. government to “open an investigation on financial support and alleged foreign policy interference by American Christian Zionism in the West Bank and Gaza.”

• Urged passage of both the sexuality statement and ministry policies.

Southeast Michigan Synod
May 1-2, Grosse Pointe Woods, Mich.

• Called on its congregations to pray and ask public officials to act locally and globally on behalf of peace with justice in the Holy Land and other places of conflict. Also asked members to lend aid and support the Christian population in the Holy Land via a synodically recommended trip or other program.

• Asked that the sexuality statement and ministry recommendations be approved.

Western Iowa Synod
May 1-3, Sioux City, Iowa

• Asked that any motion regarding a change in the current policy and practice for rostered leaders require a two-thirds vote.

• Affirmed marriage as a lifelong covenant between a man and a woman.

Eastern North Dakota Synod
May 2-3, Grand Forks, N.D.

• Urged adoption of the social statement on human sexuality.

• Affirmed that gays and lesbians share with others the worth that comes from being created by God, are welcome in the church, are expected and encouraged to share in the sacramental and general life of congregations, and asked that the church undertake a comprehensive study of human sexuality and the Christian life.

Southeastern Minnesota Synod
May 1-2, Rochester, Minn.

• Thanked individuals and congregations for giving to hunger-related programs, and encouraged continued giving to the ELCA World Hunger Appeal and similar organizations.

• Called on the synod and congregations to be better environmental stewards, and that by 2011, 75 percent of the products used by the synod office be environmentally conscious (including fairly traded products).

• Declared an understanding of same-gender orientation to be “a part of God’s good creation, not a perversion of it” and that the church welcome and support people with such an orientation into the full life of the church.

• Directed the synod council to become a Reconciling in Christ member by developing, adopting and submitting an Affirmation of Welcome that may be a model for congregations.

Florida-Bahamas Synod
May 7-9, Orlando, Fla.

• Urged passage of the social statement on sexuality as well as the recommendations on ministry policies; voted to require a two-thirds vote for such changes.

• Asked synod congregations and members to do energy audits so that 30 percent of carbon emissions are reduced by 2020.

Metropolitan Washington, D.C. Synod
May 8-9, Washington, D.C.

• Urged adoption of sexuality and ministry policies. Also directed appropriate churchwide units to develop resources for congregations and ministers wanting to support same-gender couples, and asked that the church reinstate to the roster or candidacy those whose rostering was precluded by previous policies.

• Asked the ELCA to continue partnerships with those who help alleviate the suffering of the people of Gaza and Israel and to work toward two interdependent, secure states for Palestinians and Israelis.

Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod
May 8-9, Franconia, Pa.

• Urged passage of the social statement on sexuality, the recommendation on ministry policies, and the development of resources to uphold same-sex couples.

• Became a Book of Faith synod.

• Asked that a churchwide advisory committee be created to craft a clear vision, expectations and requirements of Lutheran Disaster Relief affiliates.

Northern Great Lakes Synod
May 14-16, Marquette, Mich.

• Asked that any changes in rostering policy and practices require a two-thirds vote.

• Forwarded to the Churchwide Assembly its voting results on recommendations for policy changes: Resolutions 1 and 3 passed; Resolutions 2 and 4 did not.

Southwestern Washington Synod

May 15-16, Tacoma, Wash.

• Asked that the sexuality statement be adopted, as well as the recommendations on ministry policies.

• Urged public schools to teach evolution as a core component of human knowledge and endorsed the Clergy Letter Project, which stands with those religious leaders who have similar affirmations.

Northwestern Minnesota Synod
May 16-17, Moorhead, Minn.

• Encouraged the Churchwide Assembly to reject the Recommendations on Ministry Policies.

• Asked that any change in policy for rostering require a two-thirds vote.

Metropolitan New York Synod
May 15-16, Melville, N.Y.

• Asked that the church initiate a study for a social statement on justice for women.

• Urged passage of the statement on sexuality and ministry policies, and called for resources to support same-gender relationships and develop procedures for reinstating those removed from the roster or candidacy prior to such policies.

• Encouraged support of Tour de Revs, three Pennsylvania pastors who are riding across the U.S. to raise funds for hunger, and care for the poor and hungry.

• Declared itself a Book of Faith synod.

Southwestern Texas Synod
May 16-17, McAllen, Texas

• Urged a two-thirds vote for any change to the ELCA’s current polices and practice regarding rostered ministers.

• Asked the Churchwide Assembly to reject the Report and Recommendations on Ministry Policies.

• Urged reaffirmation of the ELCA’s commitment to peace-making in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict via its strategy for engagement.

• A resolution requesting the study of forming a new Lutheran church from within the ELCA failed.

Northwest Washington Synod
May 15-16, Lynnwood, Wash.

• Voted to communicate to the ELCA and U.S. government leaders appreciation for work toward a “viable and contiguous” Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza as well as a secure peace for the people of Israel.

• Called for adoption of both the sexuality statement and the recommendation on ministry policies. Also requested resources for congregations wishing to support same-gender relationships and hold them publicly accountable, and asked for procedures to reinstate to the roster or candidacy those precluded by previous policies.

Northwestern Ohio Synod
May 15-16, Bowling Green, Ohio

• Asked the Churchwide Assembly to direct development of a social statement on people with disabilities.

• Urged the assembly to reject the Recommendations on Ministry Policies, and called for a two-thirds vote on any such changes.

Northeastern Ohio Synod
May 16, Akron, Ohio

• Affirmed “strong opposition to all forms of verbal harassment or assault of persons because of their sexual orientation.”

• Committed to continued prayer and discussion while respecting diverse views in matters of sexual orientation and gender identity.

North/West Lower Michigan Synod
May 17-19, Lansing, Mich.

• Voted against two-thirds passage of any Churchwide Assembly changes to rostering policies.

Pacifica Synod
May 21-23, Riverside, Calif.

• Urged passage of the human sexuality social statement and ministry policies, both as amended.

• Asked that a letter be sent to President Barack Obama and Congress asking for an end to overreliance on detention as a primary immigration control tool and calling for civil and humane treatment of those held. Also called for further transparent and responsible oversight in treatment of detainees.

• Voted for a super majority for the Churchwide Assembly’s rules of procedure.

Oregon Synod
May 22-24, Eugene, Ore.

• Urged adoption of the human sexuality statement and ministry policies.

La Crosse Area Synod  
May 28-30, Decorah, Iowa

• Asked for passage of both the sexuality statement and ministry policies.

New England Synod
May 28-30, Sturbridge, Mass.

• Asked for the sexuality statement and ministry policies to be approved, and that resources be developed to hold same-gender couples publicly accountable. Also urged reinstating to the roster those who were removed prior to any policy changes.

• Asked the Board of Pensions to offer health and benefit packages to same-sex domestic partners equal to those offered to heterosexual spouses. The resolution calls for reevaluating policies and procedures for rostered leadership, seminarians and those awaiting first call.

• Reaffirmed the church’s commitment to peacemaking in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

• Called for a social statement on disability.

• Asked that stopping genocide and working for peace in Darfur be made a priority by the church and Congress.

Northwest Synod of Wisconsin
May 28-30, Eau Claire, Wis.

• Asked that any vote concerning “same-sex marriage and rostered leaders’ sexual conduct” require a two-thirds vote.

South Carolina Synod
May 28-30, Newberry, S.C.

• Affirmed the ELCA’s current ministry policies as expressed in “Vision and Expectations.”

Minneapolis Area Synod
May 29-30, Minneapolis

• Asked the Churchwide Assembly to commit an additional $300,000 of the 2010 budget to develop congregations in inner-city neighborhoods.

• Requested funding be allocated for a Braille version of Evangelical Lutheran Worship.

• Urged passage of the sexuality social statement and recommendations on ministry policies, as well as development of resources and reinstatement to the roster. Also asked the assembly to direct relevant churchwide units to develop congregational resources for age-appropriate, comprehensive sexuality education that upholds the value of the social statement.

• Called for advocacy for laws that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Also advocated for laws and regulations that permit widows and widowers to marry without losing retirement benefits.

• Asked the ELCA communications unit to inform members about comprehensive immigration reform, and urged the government to suspend all raids until reform is enacted.

• Endorsed House Resolution 808 for a U.S. Department of Peace.

St. Paul Area Synod
May 29-30, Burnsville, Minn.

• Urged passage of the sexuality social statement and the proposed ministry policies, and asked that resources be developed that hold same-sex couples publicly accountable and that those from another church body or removed from the roster prior to such changes be reinstated.

South Dakota Synod
May 29-30, Sioux Falls, S.D.

• Asked for a two-thirds majority to change ministry policies.

• Recommended that the social statement on human sexuality be rejected in favor of social statements of predecessor churches.

• Urged rejection of proposed recommendations on ministry policy in favor of those expressed in “Vision and Expectations.”

Delaware-Maryland Synod
May 28-29, Ocean City, Md.

• Called for a two-thirds vote at the Churchwide Assembly on any resolutions pertaining to changes in ministry policies.

• Asked that necessary steps be taken by all church expressions to confront racism and promote reconciliation.


Kurt Rogerson

Kurt Rogerson

Posted at 6:20 pm (U.S. Eastern) 7/6/2009

The lead to this story is misleading unless I am missing something.  The margin of 16 of 28 synods only counts those reported in this issue.  Four synods were reported in the June issue, only one of which one asked for adoption of the Proposed Social Statement and Policy Changes. My own Nothern Texas- Northern Louisianna Synod was in favor of the Proposed Social Statement, but took no position on the changes to ministry policies, and asked for a 2/3 super majority to adopt the rostoring changes. 

When all 32 synods are included there were 17 synods in favor of the rostering changes, only one more than half,  and a significant group of 11 synods who feel that there should be a 2/3 vote to make such divisive changes to rostering policies. 

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