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ELCA bishop tells church: start talking about sexuality

Mark Hanson says silence on hot topic could cause church-dividing vote

The Presiding Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) says he senses a resistance on the part of church members to grapple with sexuality is-sues. That, he says, could spell trouble for the denomination when it votes two years from now on possibly revising policies regarding who may be ordained in the 5.1 million member church.
In an interview with the editor of Metro Lutheran on February 10, Hanson said, “I’m concerned that large segments of the ELCA are choosing not to have conversations about sexuality issues.” The bishop voiced concern about prospects for the 2005 Churchwide As-sembly, when around 1,000 voting members will decide whether to change the church’s rules about ordaining gays and lesbians living in committed relationships.
Said Hanson, “If most of the church just holds its breath and waits for a church-dividing vote, we may get a division [in the ELCA].” He added, “I want to invite the church into the conversation.”
Two Twin Cities area groups will offer opportunities to dialogue on the sexuality issue in coming months.
* A three-part “Lunch and Learn” discussion series is planned for Central Lutheran Church in downtown Minneapolis. The 12:30 p.m. sessions are set for April 5, May 4 and June 1 at the church, 333 S. 12th St.
* St. Olaf College, North-field, Minnesota, will sponsor a “Sexuality, Spirituality and the Church” conference on its campus, April 4-6. Information is available at 1-800-726-6523.