ELCA Human Sexuality Message

10/25/1996 12:00:00 AM


At its meeting Nov. 8-11 the Church Council of the Evangelical
Lutheran Church in America will decide either to adopt a proposed
"message" on sexuality and distribute it to ELCA congregations or
to send it to next summer's Churchwide Assembly for
consideration.  The ELCA Conference of Bishops advised the
council to edit and issue the proposed message "by its own
action, rather than submitting it to the 1997 Churchwide Assembly
for action."  The bishops met Oct. 3-9.  The Rev. Charles S.
Miller, director of the ELCA's Division for Church in Society,
told the bishops the new message is "a minimalist
interpretation."  Miller said the division's board, which
reviewed the document, wanted a message that "sought agreement.
It is not introducing differences."  The ELCA has been working
toward some way to speak to issues of sexuality since 1989.  Two
drafts of a possible social statement received mostly negative
response.  In 1995, interpreting action taken by the Churchwide
Assembly, the Church Council directed the division to draft a
message "on those areas for which there appears to be consensus
within this church," A "message" is defined as a "brief
communication that draws attention to a social issue."  It is not
a new policy position of the ELCA but builds upon previously
adopted social statements.  A message can be adopted by the
council, whereas a social statement requires action by the
Churchwide Assembly.  The Rev. Steven L. Ullestad, bishop of the
ELCA's Northeastern Iowa Synod, encouraged the council to issue
the sexuality message itself, noting that it "has distributed
messages before, such as those on domestic violence and end-of-
life decisions."  The current proposed message is embargoed until
it has been acted upon by the council and distributed to ELCA

For information contact: Ann Hafften, Dir., ELCA News Service,
(312) 380-2958 or AHAFFTEN@ELCA.ORG; Frank Imhoff, Assoc. Dir.,
(312) 380-2955 or FRANKI@ELCA.ORG


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