ELCA Convention approves allowing homosexuals as pastors
August 21, 2009 - Courtsey of World Faith News.com
ELCA Assembly Opens Ministry to Partnered Gay and Lesbian Lutherans
MINNEAPOLIS (ELCA) - The 2009 Churchwide Assembly of the Evangelical
Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) voted today to open the ministry of the
church to gay and lesbian pastors and other professional workers living
in committed relationships.
The action came by a vote of 559-451 at the highest legislative body
of the 4.6 million member denomination. Earlier the assembly also
approved a resolution committing the church to find ways for
congregations that choose to do so to "recognize, support and hold
publicly accountable life-long, monogamous, same gender relationships,"
though the resolution did not use the word "marriage."
The actions here change the church's policy, which previously
allowed gays and lesbians into the ordained ministry only if they
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.
The churchwide assembly 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."
Before discussing the thornier issues of same-gender unions in the
ordained ministry, the assembly approved, by a vote of 771-230, a
resolution committing the church to respect the differences of opinions
on the matter and honor the "bound consciences" of those who disagree.
During the hours of discussion, led by ELCA Presiding Bishop Mark S.
Hanson, the delegates paused several times each hour for prayer,
sometimes as a whole assembly, sometimes in small groups around the
tables where the voting members of the assembly sat, debated and cast
Discussion here proved that matters of sexuality will be contentious
throughout the church. A resolution that would have reasserted the
church's current policy drew 344 votes, but failed because it was
rejected by 670 of the voting members.