Hello - Theo here to inform you that this is a 2 part thing -- a release on August 16th and one on August 15th before the final vote was taken whether to delay the report on homosexuality. The most recent release is first and the earlier one is below that.
LUTHERAN CHURCH KEEPS ITS PROMISE TO GAYS AND LESBIANS TO ISSUE FINAL REPORT ON STUDY ON HOMOSEXUALITY IN 2005
WILL ALSO CONTINUE RELATIONSHIP WILL EPISCOPAL CHURCH
Soulforce and the Lutheran Alliance for Full Participation conducted vigils and leafleting during the ELCA Churchwide Assembly to help educate voting members
Soulforce Press Release: August 16, 2003
For Immediate Release
Contact: Laura Montgomery Rutt
(Milwaukee, WI) – On the final afternoon session of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) Churchwide Assembly, voting members rejected an amendment to a memorial that would have delayed the final report of a churchwide study on homosexuality. The Assembly voted in 2001 to set up a taskforce to enable churches to study the issue of homosexuality, and issue a final report in 2005.
Some members of the church had tried to delay the final report, which would have further postponed the decision on ordaining non-celibate gays and lesbians into the full ministry of the church. Several ordained ministers have lost their credentials because they have refused to abide by the church’s requirement of celibacy for gay and lesbian ministers.
“We are glad that the church has kept its promise to us. Now we only have two more years to have our lives studied and debated,” stated Greg Egertson, Co-chair of Lutheran Lesbian and Gay Ministries. “Hopefully, then the church can move on and fully embrace us for who we are and who God called us to be, as full participants in the ELCA without requiring us to take a vow of celibacy or lie about our relationships.”
Additionally, voting members committed to continuing the relationship with the Episcopal Church, despite efforts by a minority to break that relationship because the Episcopal Church recently installed Gene Robertson as a bishop. Robinson is an openly gay man living in a committed relationship with another man.
The request for Soulforce to be at the ELCA Churchwide Assembly was made by the Lutheran Alliance for Full Participation, which includes five member organizations: Lutheran Lesbian and Gay Ministries, the Extraordinary Candidacy Project, the Lutheran Network for Inclusive Vision, Lutherans Concerned/North America, and Wingspan Ministries.
Soulforce and the Lutheran Alliance for Full Participation were prepared to conduct a respectful and peaceful nonviolent civil disobedience if the Assembly had voted to delay the study.
“What a difference two years makes, so many people stopped and hugged us and thanked us for caring and being at the Assembly!” declared Karen Weldin, Director of Operations for Soulforce. “What we set out to do from the beginning was accomplished – simply hold the church accountable for its promise to us. However, we were prepared in case they didn’t.”
Soulforce is known for nonviolent direct actions during the denominational meetings of many of America’s largest denominations, such as Roman Catholic, Southern Baptist, United Methodist, Presbyterian Church (USA) and more. In the past 3 years, thousands have been trained in nonviolence, and over 500 have been arrested in acts of nonviolent civil disobedience.
# # #
Soulforce is a national interfaith movement committed to ending spiritual violence perpetuated by religious policies and teachings against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) people. We teach and employ the nonviolent principles as taught by Gandhi and King to the liberation of sexual and gender minorities.
For more information on Soulforce, see www.soulforce.org. Pictures of the ELCA action are available at http://www.soulforce.org/elca0803/gallery/index.htm
Soulforce Greetings -- Friday, August 15, 2003 from the ELCA Churchwide Assembly in Milwaukee!
These past two days have been exciting, and at times challenging. For the most part, we have been welcomed and embraced, both literally and figuratively!
No matter how long we vigil, it is still amazing to see hundreds of Lutherans walking in and out of the Churchwide Assembly, reading our flyers and wearing our rainbow scarves, day after day, in support of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Lutherans.
Yesterday and today, however, we were joined outside by some people from Wisconsin Christians United, the very same group that showed up in Lynchburg at Out and About last year. They still have the same old tired sign that says, "Homosexuality is a sin."
We are pleased to say, that most Lutherans walked right past their sign without acknowledging it, and accepted our literature, smiled, and said, "Thank you for being here!"
Today, inside the assembly, it was originally anticipated that there would be an attempt to delay the final report of the study on homosexuality scheduled to be released in 2005. Our coalition stands together firmly against the delay, which will postpone the decision on ordaining non-celibate gays and lesbians into the full ministry of the church. This attempt to vote on a delay didn't take place today.
During the sessions, we were standing in the back of the assembly hall, ready for a respectful and nonviolent action if the motion to delay was passed, however, our best information tells us that this motion got mired in a parliamentary procedure that doesn't seem to have an easy solution.
So for now, we are sitting back, praying that we will not have to carry out an action, hoping that the Churchwide Assembly will decide to keep their promise and stick to the current timeline. In the words of the great Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., "Justice too long delayed is justice denied." We certainly agree!
A delay would be seen not only as a breech of trust, but as perpetuating a policy that hurts people and ruins lives by requiring gay and lesbian ministers to be celibate or lie about their relationships.
So, keep us in your thoughts and/or prayers on Saturday, as try to make sense of what is going to happen. We pray that the ELCA Churchwide Assembly will do the right thing, and keep the promise it made in 2001 to report on the study in 2005 -- at the Churchwide Assembly in Orlando, Florida.
Regardless of what happens here, we will be supporting the Lutheran Alliance for Full Participation in 2005 in Orlando.
And again, thank you for your support of the work that Soulforce continues to do to empower the oppressed, change hearts and minds, and end spiritual violence committed by religious policies and teachings against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.
Peace be with you,
Director of Operations
Laura Montgomery Rutt
Director of Communications
For more information, see www.soulforce.org .