Lutheran Schism In the Making?
Jim Burroway August 21st, 2009
Jim Burroway August 21st, 2009
Leaders of Lutheran CORE (Coalition for Reform) responded to the church decision to accept partnered gay clergy with a press release calling on “faithful Lutherans” to meet in Indianapolis in September to begin an “expanded ministry that draws faithful ELCA congregations together”: (Faithful in this sense is faithful to the traditional definition of gay sex as always and everywhere sinful, oh, and also faithful to upholding the traditional interpretation of the scriptures.)
“We are encouraging individuals and congregations to join us in Indianapolis to discuss what the future for faithful Lutherans in the ELCA might look like and how faithful congregations and individuals can work together ,” [Lutheran CORE chairman and bishop Paull] Spring said. “It is crucial that those ELCA Lutherans who uphold the authority of Scripture work together. We need each other. We urge people to come to Indianapolis.”
“We intend to gather the largest possible body of faithful Lutherans so that we might collectively plan a united common future. For that reason it is important that congregations and individuals not make hasty decisions about their future in the ELCA,” Spring added. “We want to work together to do what will be best for all of us and for the continuation of faithful Christian teaching.” (I just love this use of the word faithful. It so implies that the Lutherans who voted for inclusion for gay ministers have no faith.)
Lutheran CORE also announced that they are renouncing their recognition by the ELCA as an Independent Lutheran Organization. Spring said, “We can no longer in good conscience participate in this relationship with the offices in Chicago” He also encouraged congregations and members to direct their financial support away from the ELCA.
Bill Lyndsey has been tracking this story over on Bilgrimage and details the strategy used by these fair and faithful Core Lutherans to change the rules of the game to force their desired outcome on the rest of the ELCA. As Bill reports, they attempted a rules change which would require a super majority vote, (2/3 majority) rather than the simple majority vote previously used with such issues.
I guess that's the kind of thing you try when you know you can't muster the votes for a simple majority victory of your own. You up the ante, hoping the other side doesn't have enough votes for a super majority. In this case the bet was called, and CORE lost. The simple majority vote was used and the actual vote was 559 -451 for allowing individual congregations to call partnered gay ministers to pastoral positions. This was the culmination vote in quite a series of votes: The following is from Box Turtle Bulletin:
Today the denomination addressed the four step process outlined by their task-force, though the ordering has shifted to 3, 1, 2, 4:
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 step was confirmed 771 - 230.
Step one asks the assembly whether, in principle, this church is committed to finding ways to allow congregations that choose to do so to recognize, support and hold publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships. This step was confirmed 619 - 402. (This is just over 62% who voted in favor of blessing same sex unions. I think it's important to note that this step does not force congregations to act against their consciences.)
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 professional leaders of this church. This step was confirmed 559 - 451. (This is 56% voting in favor of allowing those blessed couples to be Church leaders.)
It is official. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America will accept as ministers - for those churches who so desire - gays and lesbians with partners.
Step four proposes the specifics of how this church can move toward change in a way that respects the bound consciences of all.
The details of this step are yet to be announced.
CORE is determining it's steps on it's own. It's going to take it's faithful Lutherans and their bound consciences to Indianapolis and who knows what, probably vote to remove themselves from ELCA, or vote to join the Southern Cone province of faithful Anglicans, or form their own sect. Whatever it is, it won't include those gays. So much for respecting the bound consciences of other Lutherans.
It's kind of amazing to me that the vote percentages weren't even close in approving gay blessings and gay clergy. Maybe this is exactly why CORE will not stick around their fellow Lutherans. The reality is they came very very close to going down to a super majority on the gay blessing issue. That would have been very ironic-not mention embarrassing- since they fought so hard for the super majority vote.
Times in this country are certainly changing and while I can see where the change is difficult for some people, I'm not sure walling themselves off in their own little Lutheran ghetto is going to do them much meaningful good. Truth is they are doing to themselves what they want to do to gays--marginalize and ghettoize. Hmmm, maybe there's a lesson here.
Today's post comes to you through the need to practice house packing avoidance behavior. Tearing down my office is truly like ripping up my heart. I'll get to it tomorrow when the truck gets here. Sigh.