The Task Force for ELCA Studies on Sexuality has proposed a social statement on human sexuality called Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust, and the Report and Recommendation on Ministry Policies. It will come before the 2009 Churchwide Assembly to be held August 17-23, 2009, in Minneapolis. If it passes this summer, it will effectively give Lutherans a local option as to same sex blessings and the ordination partnered gay ordinands.
From the Executive Summary of Human Sexuality report:
It is only within the last decades that this church has begun to understand in new ways the need of same-gender oriented individuals to seek relationships of lifelong companionship and commitment as well as public accountability and legal support for those commitments. This has led to differing understandings about the place of such relationships within the Christian community. Disagreements exist in this church and in the larger Christian community about whether marriage is also the appropriate term to use to describe similar benefits, protection, and support for same-gender couples entering into lifelong, monogamous relationships.
Although at this time this church lacks consensus on this matter, it encourages all people to live out their faith in the local and global community of the baptized with profound respect for the conscience-bound belief of the neighbor. This church calls for mutual respect and for guidance that seeks the good of all. As we live together with disagreement, the people in this church will continue to accompany one another in study, prayer, discernment, pastoral care, and mutual respect.
From the Executive Summary of the Ministry Practices Report:
The recommendation consists of four interconnected resolutions. Each takes a step in the decision-making process. The decisions are to be taken one by one: if the first is approved, then the second, third, and fourth are considered, but only if the preceding ones have been approved.
Step one asks the assembly whether, in principle, it is committed to finding ways to allow congregations and synods that choose to do so to recognize, support, and hold publicly accountable lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships.
Step two asks the assembly whether, in principle, this church is committed to finding a way for people in such publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships to serve as rostered leaders of this church.
Step three asks this church whether, in the future implementation of these commitments, it will make decisions so that all in this church bear the burdens of the other, and respect the bound consciences of all. This means that any solution that serves only the conscience-bound positions of one or another part of this church will not be acceptable.
Step four proposes how this church can move toward change in a way that respects the bound consciences of all. It recognizes that such respect will lead to diversity of practice. However, the majority of the task force believes that the conscience-bound lack of consensus will be respected most faithfully by providing some structured flexibility in decision-making so that congregations and synods may choose whether or not to approve or call people in publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships to serve on ELCA rosters.
Read the rest here.