ELCA will not allow synods to maintain traditional standards
Lutheran Core ^ | November 02, 2009 | David Baer
Posted on Tue Nov 03 2009 12:01:33 GMT-0600 (Central Standard Time) by rhema
ELCA synods will not have the option of upholding traditional Christian teaching on marriage and homosexuality in their standards for pastors and other rostered leaders according to a draft of candidacy rules released Oct. 10 by the ELCA churchwide organization.
No synod or bishop may make decisions on ministry standards that differ from the new policies of the ELCA churchwide organization as defined by the 2009 Churchwide Assembly, the policy draft explains. The ELCA now allows pastors and other rostered leaders to be in committed same-sex relationships.
“By the governing documents, all candidacy and call decisions are made on an individual basis, thus no body can make a blanket statement of approval or disapproval for a group of candidates. Nor can a body alter the policies which this church has accepted. However, a decision making body may express its general understanding of what will best serve the mission of Christ in the places and times for which they have decision making responsibility. No body can restrict the authority given to another by the governing documents. Thus, for example, a synod council cannot bind a synod call committee nor can a synod bind its congregations, but any of these entities may express convictions and preferences to the others,” the draft states.
The only option for a synod candidacy committee that wishes to uphold traditional standards for sexuality is to transfer a candidate to another ELCA synod. “There is local option on same-sex blessings — no congregation is to be forced to perform them (that is what the Assembly adopted; we will have to see how it develops). But ordination policy as proposed is, so far as I can see, tolerance as long as one does not obstruct. A synod could urge partnered gay and lesbian candidates to go somewhere else, but it could not outright refuse them,” the Rev. Dr. Michael Root of Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary wrote on the “Lutherans Persisting” blog.
The proposed standards suggest that those who believe in biblical standards for sexuality resign from synod candidacy committees: “Individuals who have a share in discernment and decision-making responsibility need to decide whether they can function in that role under the new policies.”
Professor Root and those participating in the discussion at Lutherans Persisting have traced the way the decisions on allowing pastors and other rostered leaders to be in same-sex relationships were transformed from the local option proposed by the Sexuality Task Force to indisputable change in ELCA policy by the ELCA Church Council.