WordAlone - A resolution concerning the ordination of gays and lesbians
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A resolution...

...concerning the ordination of gays and lesbians

WordAlone file document

May 19 - 21, 2005

South Carolina Synod Assembly

Whereas, the 2001 ELCA Churchwide Assembly authorized a study of human sexuality; and

Whereas, the total response to Journey Together Faithfully, Part Two was 28,000 and of that 56 percent opposed the blessing and rostering of practicing homosexuals; and

Whereas, the ELCA Church Council has recommended a process that would grant ordination to practicing homosexuals, in which it states, “the ELCA shall create a process for the sake of outreach, ministry, and the commitment to continuing dialogue, which may permit exceptions to the expectations regarding sexual conduct for gay and lesbian candidates and rostered leaders in lifelong, committed, and faithful same-sex relationships who are otherwise determined to be in compliance with Visions and Expectations and adopt the following bylaws to permit implementation of this limited process for exceptions to the normative policies of this church”; and

Whereas, the 1993 ELCA Conference of Bishops stated, “. . . there is basis neither in Scripture nor tradition for the establishment of an official ceremony by this church for the blessing of a homosexual relationship.  We, the ELCA, therefore, do not approve such a ceremony as an official action of this church’s ministry”; and

Whereas, seventeen theologians of the ELCA including South Carolinians, the Reverend James Crumley, Dr. Michael Root, and Dr. David Yeago issued A Statement of Pastoral and Theological Concern, in which they urge rejection of the recommendations of the Task Force for Studies on Sexuality; and

Whereas, the Conference of Bishops of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania, our companion synod, stated, “The Conference of Bishops rejects biblical expositions done by some theologians and scholars with intent to affirm and legalize homosexuality.  We do not agree with those seeking to ordain homosexuals into the ministry of Word and sacrament.  Instead we call upon the Church of Christ worldwide to sympathize with them, pray for them and counsel them how to be transformed in their thought and intentions” (Bukoba Statement 2004); and

Whereas, the 2004 South Carolina Synod assembly passed a resolution that resolved, “that this synod assembly go on record as affirming the current policy of the ELCA,” therefore be it

Resolved, that the South Carolina Synod Assembly memorialize the ELCA Churchwide Assembly to maintain the standards for rostered and ordained leaders as outlined in Visions and Expectations and that no exceptions be granted.

A RESOLUTION CONCERNING THE BLESSING OF SAME-SEX UNIONS

Whereas, the historical, biblical, and confessional teaching and practice of the Christian Church on marriage and sexual ethics is expressed in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s (ELCA) official teachings, policies, and documents; and

Whereas, the Conference of Bishops in October 5-8, 1993, addressed the issue of same-sex unions in accordance with this historic consensus; and

Whereas, a clear majority of respondents to Journeying Together Faithfully:  Part Two agree with the Church’s historical consensus; and

Whereas, this consensus is articulated in “Dissenting Position One” of the Task Force’s Report and Recommendations, therefore be it

Resolved, that the South Carolina Synod Assembly memorialize the 2005 Churchwide Assembly of the ELCA to adopt “Dissenting Position One” from the Task Force report which asks this Church to

1.  Affirm and uphold current policy and practices consistent with past understandings of Vision and Expectations and Definitions and Guidelines for Discipline and the social statements of the Lutheran Church in America and the American Lutheran Church;

2.  Admonish individuals, communities, congregations and synods that any discipline that may result in response to actions contrary to those policies be undertaken with all humility in the knowledge that we see through a glass darkly.  May we forgive as we wish to be forgiven.  Remembering the log in our own eye, may Christian charity guide our ways.

3.  Beseech individuals, communities, congregations, and synods, who for reasons of conscience will act contrary to the aforementioned policies, to graciously accept and endure the discipline of the church for the sake of peace, secure in the knowledge “that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us (Romans 8:18)”; and be it further

Resolved, that the South Carolina Synod Assembly memorialize the 2005 Churchwide Assembly of the ELCA to adopt the following statement as official policy of the ELCA:

. . . there is basis neither in Scripture nor tradition for the establishment of an official ceremony by this church for the blessing of a homosexual relationship.  We, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America therefore, do not approve such a ceremony as an official action of this church’s ministry.  (Conference of Bishops 1993.10.25)

A RESOLUTION CONCERNING STRATEGIES FOR LIVING TOGETHER FAITHFULLY WHILE ADDRESSING ISSUES THAT DIVIDE THE CHURCH AND ITS CONGREGATIONS

Whereas, the Task Force for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) Studies on Sexuality has recommended that the ELCA concentrate on finding ways to live together faithfully in the midst of our disagreements; and

Whereas, Jesus Christ, in his prayer to his Father, asked "that all be one as we are one” and

Whereas, Scripture declares that there is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and our creeds profess one holy catholic and apostolic church; and

Whereas, the Conference of Bishops has reported significant differences of opinion concerning the issues surrounding gays and lesbians; and

Whereas, the ELCA Church Council experienced disagreement over the development of their response to the Task Force recommendation; and

Whereas, in Journey Together Faithfully, Part II, the Task Force provided a balanced presentation which had over 28,000 responses, of which 74.6 per cent responded, “that they better understood the views of other people”; and

Whereas, the 2003 South Carolina Synod Assembly experienced meaningful dialogue concerning the issue of gays and lesbians in the church, during which the participants acknowledged a greater understanding of the issue; and

Whereas, there are other issues that arise within the ELCA that have the possibility of deeply dividing us; and

Whereas, many ELCA congregations continue to experience deep divisions and conflict that hamper the proclamation of the gospel; and

Whereas, the church should be a place where divisive issues can be discussed safely; therefore be it

Resolved, that the 2005 Assembly of the South Carolina Synod endorse recommendation 1 submitted by the ELCA Church Council on Sexuality Studies; and be it further

Resolved, a that the endorsement recognize the need to include other issues that can divide the church; and be it further

Resolved, that the 2005 Assembly of the South Carolina Synod submit a memorial to the ELCA 2005 Churchwide Assembly asking that the ELCA Church Council recommendation 1 be adopted; and be it further

Resolved, that the SC Synod memorialize the Churchwide Assembly of the ELCA to develop and share strategies for living together faithfully in the midst of disagreements arising from the role of gays and lesbians in the church and other disagreements that divide the church and its congregations.