ELCA NEWS SERVICE
August 26, 2009
ELCA Shares Significant Actions with Ecumenical, Global Partners
CHICAGO (ELCA) -- The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) is sharing some significant actions taken at the 2009 ELCA Churchwide Assembly with its ecumenical and global partners. Two significant actions include the adoption of the ELCA's 10th social statement, "Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust," and the modification of ministry policies that govern pastors and other professional church leaders in committed same-gender relationships.
The assembly, the chief legislative authority of the ELCA, met in Minneapolis, Aug. 17-23. About 2,000 people participated, including 1,045 ELCA voting members.
The ELCA shares full communion agreements with the Episcopal Church, Moravian Church in America, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Reformed Church in America and the United Church of Christ. At the assembly, voting members agreed to a full-communion partnership with the United Methodist Church (UMC) -- the first such relationship for the UMC.
In an Aug. 24 letter to these and other ecumenical partners, the ELCA presiding bishop and the denomination's ecumenical executive said all recommendations regarding human sexuality were "given serious and protracted consideration."
"These considerations reflect nearly 10 years of discernment, where whole communities have walked together through the arduous challenge of discerning the ecclesial call to all of God's children in the Church universal," wrote the Rev. Mark S. Hanson, ELCA presiding bishop, and the Rev. Donald J. McCoid, executive, ELCA Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Relations.
"As we now enter into the 100th anniversary of the contemporary ecumenical movement, Christian communities have worked tirelessly to develop relationships, reach historic agreements, honor differences, strive toward unity and pursue significant accomplishments together," they wrote.
"We understand with you the need for ecumenical tables to discuss theological, ethical and morale concerns that are facing Christians today," Hanson and McCoid wrote. "We believe the most central way of engaging these deep-structured concerns is to enter into and remain with one another in the heart of constructive dialogue. We wholeheartedly encourage and invite you to engage with this church around those very tables in the near future."
In a separate letter, Hanson and the Rev. Rafael Malpica Padilla, executive director, ELCA Global Mission, acknowledge some "continued disagreements" among Lutherans both in the United States and overseas on the topic of human sexuality.
"We will continue to be in a time of prayer and deep conversation within the ELCA, and wish to continue the conversation with you as companions in the common mission God has entrusted to us," Hanson and Malpica Padilla wrote.
In their letter Hanson and Malpica Padilla outlined other actions taken by the assembly, including a $10 million campaign to implement an HIV and AIDS strategy. The assembly's action commits the ELCA to raise funds needed to implement the ELCA strategy and to expand the church's commitment to support the ministries of its companion churches overseas in responding to the HIV and AIDS crisis.
They also highlighted a major initiative to undertake the fight against malaria. A two-year pilot phase could precede the initiative in partnership with companion churches.
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Information about the 2009 ELCA Churchwide Assembly is at http://www.ELCA.org/assembly on the Web.
For information contact:
John Brooks, Director (773) 380-2958 or email@example.com
ELCA News Blog: http://www.elca.org/news/blog