Friday morning purgatory

Started by Brad Everett, July 15, 2011, 03:51:41 PM

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Brad Everett

Susan Johnson was re-elected as National Bishop on the second ballot with 238 votes (233 were needed). Bp. Ron Mayan with 47 votes and Pr. Glen Johnson with 22 votes rounded out the top three. She thanked the convention for the trust it has placed in her and noted that while she was scared when first elected four years ago, in some ways she is even more scared now and so asked for the prayers of the members.
A resolution was passed regarding ethical investing i.e. that members, congregations and synods engage the issue of ethical investing, that the ELCIC National Church Council and Group Services review its investment policies urging that human rights and environmental sustainability  be support and upheld. I'm going to have to get someone to explain why ELCIC can take a stance on ethical issues of investing, but ethical matters of sexuality are another matter.
Which brings me to the main event of the morning—debate on the proposed Human Sexuality Study. If Dante wrote his Divine Comedy today, "Purgatory" would have to include a windowless conference hall, line-ups at microphones and well-intentioned people saying basically the same thing over and over and over and over—all the while strongly suspecting what the vote will be when taken. The delegates did all the "greatest hits" - personal anecdotes, quoted Scripture back and forth, lamented a lack of love, etc. There were a couple of new twists as well. First was the recurring appeal from those in favor of the statement that this held up the values the ELCIC held dear i.e. fidelity, nuture, care, support etc. Guess I hadn't expected a "family values" appeal from those pushing for a change to the church's teaching on sexuality.
The second, was a couple of pastors stating quite bluntly that this is a divisive subject, and the danger of going on with this statement when there isn't unity. Which highlights something no one has yet addressed and (and in fairness it would be hard to do so in a three-minute speech a the mic) and that is, as ironic as it seems, we don't have a shared understanding of "unity". The term was used relentlessly, but it obviously means different things to different people and even when it is asserted that our unity is "in Christ" the delegates clearly aren't all on the same page there either. So "moving on together" will be a challenge when we aren't even sure what "together" is. Too bad the committee didn't do a better job on this topic, but then ecclesiology hasn't really be a strong point in Lutheranism.
Considering a motion requiring the motion to pass by a 2/3 majority was overwhelmingly defeated it looks like this is a done deal. So we spent over and hour and a half on debate and will fit in a few minutes more after supper thanks to an amendment proposed by Bp. Johnson. Tonight the convention tackles the motions coming out of the statement on unity, same-sex marriage and ordination. It seems unlikely the statement would pass and not the motions. I do appreciate the bishop's efforts to give everyone who wants to speak an opportunity. However, voting on the statement and motions in the same session could make for a very stressful evening for many.



If you have time or interest, I'd be curious as to your reflections about the larger social impact of this in Canada.

In the US the "journeying together" approach has merely set loose the splintering of the ELCA.  But none of us are likely to be accused of hate speech (well, certainly accused of it,  but not yet hauled before the courts) and deal with legal consequences.  Once your church embraces the change, what protections, if any, would orthodox pastors have in that church should they decide to preach from their confessional perspective? 


Brad Everett


Up here we are more wary of Human Rights Commissions rather than the actual courts. These quasi-judicial bodies were set up originally to deal with matters discrimination around things like housing. However their scope has expanded to include issues of speech and sexual orientation. For a taste of what's going on you can check out: which deals with Calgary Roman Catholic Bishop Fred Henry's experience with the HRC.

If the ELCIC makes the anticipated changes to it's policies and teachings, one guard congregations and pastors would have is to have a resolution on the books that they won't do same-sex marriages - but that's about it.


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