ELCA NEWS SERVICE
April 7, 2010
ELCA Presiding Bishop Hopes for Open Conversation with Tanzanian Bishop
CHICAGO (ELCA) -- The Rev. Mark S. Hanson, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), anticipates an "honest and open conversation" with the Rev. Alex G. Malasusa, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania (ELCT), when the two leaders meet here in May. Hanson said the ELCA and ELCT share a "rich relationship," and he hopes the conversation will explore how both churches can continue to accompany one other in God's mission.
In his Easter sermon Malasusa expressed his contention with decisions of the 2009 ELCA Churchwide Assembly and the Church of Sweden's decision to allow its clergy to perform same-gender marriages.
The ELCA assembly approved proposals that would create the possibility for Lutherans in committed, publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships to serve as ELCA clergy and professional lay leaders. The assembly also adopted a social statement on human sexuality.
Hanson said he has read news reports of Malasusa's Easter message but has "not received the transcript of the sermon."
"It is my practice to first communicate directly to colleagues in the leadership of our companion churches," said Hanson. "I will share with Bishop Malasusa the ELCA's strong commitment to the centrality of the Word of God in our faith and witness. We join all Lutherans who affirm that the central message of the Scriptures as the good news of God's love and saving work in Jesus Christ."
Hanson said the ELCA has consistently shared its commitment "to respect the policies and practices of companion churches in the placement of our global mission personnel." He said the ELCA does "not use financial resources to coerce global companions. Rather, we share a commitment to proclaim to the whole world the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ, to serve our neighbor, and to build a world of justice and peace."
At the Africa Pre-assembly and Church Leadership Consultation held March 24-28 in Abuja, Nigeria, the Rev. Rafael Malpica-Padilla, executive director for ELCA Global Mission, said the ELCA "is deeply grateful for the companionship of the African churches. For many decades our churches have walked together, sharing their gifts and talents for the proclamation of the gospel of salvation and hope in Jesus Christ. This companionship in the gospel has strengthened the bonds of sisterhood and brotherhood between our peoples. These old, historical, and deeply rooted relationships embody the words spoken by the 'preacher' in the book of Ecclesiastes: 'Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up the other, but woe to one who is alone and falls and does not have another to help.'" (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10)
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