Lutherans in Minnesota

Final two ELCA synods meet

St. Paul Area and Southwestern Minnesota synods consider marriage

The Saint Paul Area Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America on May 18 became the fifth Minnesota synod to vote in assembly to encourage opposition to the proposed marriage amendment to the Minnesota Constitution. The amendment will be on the November 2012 election ballot.

Bishop Jessica Crist, Montana Synod, represented ELCA Churchwide at the St. Paul Area Synod Assembly at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Burnsville on May 18-19. Metro Lutheran photo: Bob Hulteen

Voting members to the 2012 synod assembly, held at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, Burnsville, Minnesota, addressed Resolution 2012-4, “A Resolution Opposing Marriage Amendment to the Minnesota State Constitution.” The original resolution asked that the assembly state its opposition to an amendment “that would prevent one group of committed couples and their families from pursuing ordinary legislative or legal means to gain the support and protections of marriage afforded to all others” and “call upon its congregations and its members to also oppose this constitutional amendment.”

The rationale afforded by the synod’s Reference and Counsel Committee for support of the resolution included recognition that “the proposed constitutional amendment would preclude the exercise of some congregations to provide a ministry of marriage which they regard as appropriate.” It does not require those who are bound by their conscience to support male-female marriage to change their position, according to the committee, because “the committee does not equate approval of this resolution as favoring one position over another, but understands that the effect of the resolution is to keep open the exercise of both avenues of ministry within the church.”

The resolution passed overwhelmingly in a sea of green voting cards.

Deciding to delay decision

On June 8, the Southwestern Minnesota Synod of the ELCA considered a similar resolution to oppose the proposed marriage amendment, while meeting in assembly at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota.

Luther Seminary President Richard Bliese provided Bible studies for the Southwestern Minnesota Synod ELCA assembly in St. Peter on June 8-9. Metro Lutheran photo: Bob Hulteen

After introduction of Resolution 12.02, “Expressing Grave Concern Regarding the Proposed Marriage Amendment to the Minnesota State Constitution,” debate began. Several speakers spoke for and against before the Rev. Steven Olson, pastor of Gethsemane Lutheran Church in Dassel, Minnesota, moved “to table indefinitely” Resolution 12.02.

Olson maintained, in explaining his rationale, that he was “concerned about the effect of the debate in congregations. We have begun the process of healing. Giving is up, volunteerism is up.” Olson feared that “refiring the debate” would recreate some of the friction of the recent past in congregations.

After continued deliberation, the assembly voted 273-240, with six abstentions, to table consideration of the resolution.

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