ELCA NEWS SERVICE
August 18, 2009
ELCA Assembly Defeats Super-Majority Requirement
MINNEAPOLIS (ELCA) -- Voting members of the biennial assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America turned back a motion that would have required a two-thirds majority for changes in policies related to the rostering of clergy, associates in ministry, diaconal ministers and deaconesses. The vote, with 57 percent in opposition, came late in the evening of the first day of the gathering, Aug. 17.
The churchwide assembly, the chief legislative authority of the ELCA, is meeting here Aug. 17-23 at the Minneapolis Convention Center. About 2,000 people are participating, including 1,045 ELCA voting members. The theme for the biennial assembly is “God’s work. Our hands.”
The defeat of the requirement of a two thirds “super majority” makes it less difficult for proponents to get approval for a proposal to open the ministry to same-gender candidates living in committed same-gender relationships.
In a spirited two-hour debate, voting members were divided on the merits of requiring a two thirds majority for what has become a contentious issue for the nation’s largest Lutheran church body. The Rev. Gregory Pile, bishop of the ELCA Allegheny Synod, said that the gravity of the vote facing voting members required a super majority.
Said Ronald Pittman, voting member from the ELCA Oregon Synod, “We only required a simple majority to exclude same-gender candidates from ordination. Only a simple majority should be required to overturn that action.”
“We have no unity among us on the issue [of same-gender clergy living in relationships],” said John Gates, voting member from the ELCA Florida-Bahamas Synod. But Jay McDivitt, voting member from the ELCA Rocky Mountain Synod, made reference to shifts in conviction, in both the church and the wider culture. He said, “The issue is settled. That may be unsettling to many of us.” He urged voters not to yield to fear. “Christ is our center, and the center will hold,” he said, speaking in favor of using a simple majority for the vote.
A vote on whether to allow people living in same-gender relationships to be on the professional rosters in the ELCA is scheduled for Friday, Aug. 21.
Voting members approved the rules of procedure as originally proposed by a 979 to 24 margin.
Information about the 2009 ELCA Churchwide Assembly can be found at http://www.elca.org/assembly/ on the Web.
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John Brooks, Director (773) 380-2958 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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