National Lutheran News

ELCA’s Metropolitan New York Synod rebuked for departing from denomination’s sexuality guidelines

The Church Council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) doesn’t much like a resolution adopted by the ELCA’s Metropolitan New York Synod. Meeting in a special assembly October 29, 2005, the Metropolitan New York Synod adopted a resolution moving away from guidelines affirmed by the ELCA at its 2005 Orlando Churchwide Assembly.

The synod assembly adopted four points of guidance concerning discipline involving a minister “in a loving, committed, same-gender relationship”:

* The overriding consideration must be the mission and pastoral needs of the congregation and the synod.

* Charges must describe how discipline would best serve the mission and pastoral needs of the congregation and the synod.

* A discipline committee must consider and determine “as a fact” whether discipline would best serve the mission and pastoral needs of the congregation and the synod.

* Discipline should not be imposed unless it best serves the mission and pastoral needs of the congregation and the synod.

The synod’s resolution asked the ELCA Church Council to clarify “whether this resolution is in concurrence with the governing documents of the ELCA.”

Meeting in Chicago on April 1-2, the Church Council decided the Metropolitan New York Synod resolution “contains inherently conflicting statements that may be read as being in conflict with the constitution and bylaws of this church [the ELCA].”

The 2005 Orlando Churchwide Assembly rejected a proposal to allow the denomination, under special circumstances, to ordain, consecrate and commission candidates for ministry who are in lifelong, committed same-sex relationships.

The Council acknowledged the Metropolitan New York Synod’s recognition “that synods do not have the authority to adopt their own policies and guidelines for discipline, nor do synod assemblies or synod councils have the authority to preempt decisions of any duly constituted discipline hearing committee.”

The Metropolitan New York Synod has 80,000 baptized members in 230 congregations. They’re located in 14 counties in and around New York City.