The 2009 Churchwide Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) voted on Friday to open the ministry of the church to gay and lesbian pastors and other professional workers living in committed relationships.
The actions change the church's policy, which previously allowed people who are gay and lesbian into the ordained ministry only if they remained celibate. Throughout the assembly, which opened Aug. 17, the more than 1,000 voting members have debated issues of human sexuality. On Wednesday they adopted a social statement on the subject as a teaching tool and policy guide for the denomination.
After the vote had been counted. The Presiding Bishop of the ELCA, Mark Hanson spoke to the assembled delegates as the "Pastor of our Church". (Scroll down to the third video...)
The earlier in the week, the assembly adopted a new "Social Statement" on Human Sexuality. The document recognizes the ministries of congregations which conduct blessings of same gender relationships and same gender marriages where such marriages are legal. The social statement was clear to state that the ELCA is tolerant of differences both in scriptural interpretation and practice.
The statement needed at 2/3 majority vote to pass, and was adopted by exactly two-thirds. I am still wading through the various documents that have come out of this assembly and will blog more about it after I have had the chance to read and then re-read both the statement and the new ministry policies.
So yes, I do have things to say about all this, but not just yet.