The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Cover story full of risks

Vote fallout must be addressed

Our cover story ("Sexuality issue causes division, sadness — and hope") is the first in what will be an occasional series in the coming months and years on fallout from the 2009 Churchwide Assembly. Should these dispatches continue to focus on the divisions within the ELCA over the assembly votes, or move on to highlighting how the decisions are being implemented and their impact in bringing a new or different life into the church?

The magazine tamped down its coverage of the sexuality debate within the ELCA over the past four years. We limited coverage to official actions only, ending all features on the subject. What we did publish was straightforward news, offering as best as possible "he said, she said" accounts. This approach still did not satisfy critics, who wanted either more articles or none at all.

For this first assessment just more than a half-year since the assembly, The Lutheran engaged a reporter outside its staff to write these articles. We did this to avoid suspicions of staffers holding a bias. Sandra D. Guy is a lifelong Lutheran, ELCA member and veteran reporter with the Chicago Sun-Times. She was solicited because of her ability — period.

No doubt some will be disappointed with the articles. They will contain too much of this, too little of that. Perhaps most importantly, the pieces won't have the numbers some folks are looking for. How many congregations voted to leave the ELCA? That we can report because the data is tabulated monthly. The bigger figures, however, are too early and too difficult to gather: how many members left the church because of the votes, and how many joined; how many withheld or redirected giving; and how many increased contributions.

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