calendar May 9, 2009 in News

Assembly says ‘Yes’ to ministry changes

The Southeastern Synod Assembly Friday expressed support of the proposal before the ELCA to allow ordination of persons in long-term, monogamous same-gender relationships.

The Assembly passed by voice vote a resolution urging the ELCA Churchwide Assembly to adopt the Social Statement on Human Sexuality. The resolution also recommended adoption of the four-parts of the proposed Recommendation on Ministry Policies.

An additional clause asked the church to develop resources for faith communities that choose to support same-gender relationships by holding them publicly accountable in the exchange of promises of lifelong love and fidelity.

During the discussion the Assembly struggled with the reality of the concept of “bound conscience” and how to recognize the strong, sometimes opposing convictions within the community of Christ as put forward in 1 Corinthians 10:28-29. How do we live as the body of Christ with radically different opinions and theological foundations?

Emotions were strong as people shared their opinions and the feelings of their conscience. Supporters of the proposal expressed concern that justice is long overdue for gay and lesbian persons excluded from ministry and full participation in the life of the church.  Concern for consistent interpretation of Scripture and standing firm to the Church’s historic teachings was expressed by many of those opposed.

“This church will completely lose its integrity if we approve this resolution,” said Pastor Michael Tavella, Holy Trinity, Abington. “The local option is just the tip of the iceberg. It will permanently divide this church.”

“Stay out of my bedroom and I’ll stay out of your bedroom,” said Pastor Lee Miller, St. John, Philadelphia (Mayfair).  “Let’s do mission. Our mission is in central, not our sex lives.”

A moment of silence followed the approval of the resolution.