The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


'Not them and us'

Assembly actions: Hope and fear will meet

Recently I opened my new Lutheran Study Bible to Acts, the story of the early church — a small band of believers fulfilling holy vocation by spreading the good news of Jesus Christ to the neighborhood, the region and the ends of the earth. For these few, division threatened. But just five chapters after Peter’s Spirit-led baptism of the Gentile Cornelius, the Council of Jerusalem unloaded centuries of scriptural interpretation, tradition, prejudice, enmity and hatred, as the once-unclean Gentiles were welcomed to the new church without the prerequisite of becoming circumcised kosher Jews. Good choice.

Following eight years, over a million dollars and uncounted hours of study, the ELCA Churchwide Assembly meets in August as a 21st-century Council of Jerusalem to consider the full inclusion of another band of Gentile believers: Lutherans of all sexual orientations and gender identities. Views within the ELCA run the gamut. But the documents and motions being presented by the Task Force for ELCA Studies on Sexuality and the ELCA Church Council take no position — rather, a middle ground.

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February issue


Embracing diversity