Friday, December 23, 2005
More ELCA Symptoms
In the apparently terminal illness of the ELCA, another symptom has appeared. Living up to her name, Bishop Payne, of the New England Synod of the ELCA, gives her blessing to same-sex blessings. (Let it be noted that this is the same Bp. Payne who chaired the "sexuality studies task force" - read, "homosexuality task force") In an post from the ALPB site:
At the New England Synod Bishop's Convocation held in Nashua, N.H. on November 7-9, 2005, Bishop Margaret Payne in her bishop's address announced to those in attendance that she interprets Resolution 2 of the three resolutions regarding sexuality adopted in Orlando at the ELCA 2005 Church-wide Assembly to allow for the blessings of unions of same gender couples in committed relationships. These may take place in the churches [that is, the church buildings] provided that pastors, couples, congregations, etc. understand that there is not an official rite of the Church for such blessings. The bishop requested, however, that pastors who intend to perform such blessings should first:
1. inform Bishop Payne
2. discuss the matter with congregation councils
3. not allow same-gender union blessings to become media events.
Bishop Payne said that at present she did not feel called to "ecclesiastical disobedience," but she believes that Resolution 3 deprives the New England Synod and the ELCA of good and faithful pastors who are otherwise qualified to serve the Church. She also stated that she sees no convincing theological arguments for excluding gay and lesbian persons in life-long committed relationships from serving as pastors.
Furthermore, Bishop Payne said that she would respect those pastors, who for reasons of conscience, could not accept or perform same-gender union blessings. Although Bishop Payne felt she needed to resign from the ELCA Sexuality Task Force, she believes her role on the Task Force was a call from God. She stated that she intends to spend more time among the people and congregations of the New England Synod, and that she will stand for re-election as bishop, "but that's up to the Holy Spirit," she said.
--The Rev. Jack R. Whritenour, Trinity Lutheran Church, Shelton, CT