National Lutheran News

Over 60 ELCA theologians support sexuality recommendations

They countered an earlier statement by 17 ELCA theologians

More than 60 theologians of the Evangelical Lutheran
Church in America (ELCA) have signed a
four-paragraph statement in favor of the church
implementing three recommendations on
homosexuality that a task force for the ELCA Studies on
Sexuality developed for the 2005 Churchwide Assembly
in August. There were 63 signatures at the bottom of
the statement when it went public April 6.

The statement was co-authored by the Rev. Ralph W.
Klein, professor of Old Testament and acting dean, and
the Rev. Barbara R. Rossing, associate professor of
New Testament, both at the Lutheran School of
Theology at Chicago.

“The provisional list of people who signed it represents
professors at ELCA seminaries, professors at ELCA
colleges and Valparaiso [an independent Lutheran
school], and Lu-therans who teach at non-Lutheran
colleges and seminaries,” Klein said. “I expect the list
to grow.”

Seventeen theologians is-sued a statement on March 1
urging the ELCA to reject the task force
recommendations. “We disagree with the claims of the
17 theologians who have criticized the task force’s
recommendations on ecclesiological and theological
grounds,” the April 6 statement said.
Ecclesiology is a doctrine describing what the church is
and should be.

“We represent a variety of perspectives and
methodologies in our approaches to the questions of
sexuality, ethics, theology and ecclesiology,” said the
statement in favor. “Some of us would have wished for
greater welcome of gays and lesbians while others are
more cautious. We believe, however, that the task force
report and recommendations represent a
much-needed and faithful compromise for this moment
in the life of the church.”

On January 13 the task force released a report on its
first three years of work. The report included three
recommendations for the assembly to consider in
August, when it is expected to answer two key
questions on homosexuality: Should the church bless
same-gender relationships? Should the church allow
people in such relationships to serve the church as
professional lay and ordained ministers?

The task force recommended that the ELCA not change
its policies (which currently forbid such blessings and
ordinations), but that in certain situations leaders may
choose to refrain from disciplining gay and lesbian
ministers in committed relationships and from
disciplining those who call or approve partnered gay or
lesbian people for ministry.

The Churchwide Assembly of the ELCA will meet in
Orlando, Florida, in early August.

The complete statement with the current list of signers
is available on the Web at
http://prophetess.lstc.edu/~rklein/.