Received March 11, 2005
Recommended by National Church Council
That the ELCIC acknowledge the inadequacy of sections of Sex, Marriage and Family, A Social Statement of the Lutheran Church in America, 1970, referring to homosexuality and homosexual behaviour in light of developing theological, pastoral and sociological scholarship and that the ELCIC suspend the application of those references.
That the ELCIC allow pastors to perform blessings for same-sex couples who want to make a life-long commitment to one another in the presence of God and their community of faith. Authorization to perform such blessings shall require the consent of the pastor, the consent of the congregation or calling agency as expressed by a 2/3 majority vote at a duly called meeting, and consultation with the synodical bishop. These blessings shall use a rite authorized by this church.
That the ELCIC's Program Committee for Worship be requested to develop a provisional rite for the blessing of same-sex couples in committed relationships.
In recent years there has been considerable discussion across Canada regarding the question of blessing same-sex unions. During the past year the National Church Council (NCC) has encouraged church-wide study with the hope of developing and appropriate response. As a result of that process, some observations can be made:
- Many people in the ELCIC are sincerely struggling with attitudes toward homosexuality in church and society. Nevertheless, many are open to gay and lesbian people affirming their commitment to their partners.
- There is a growing understanding in some contexts that the provision of same-sex blessing is primarily an issue of pastoral care and not confessional integrity. The ELCIC needs to develop a pastoral practice to address the expressed needs of gay and lesbian people.
- While homosexuality remains a controversial issue in the church, there is growing dissatisfaction with references to homosexuality in Sex, Marriage and Family, A Social Statement of the Lutheran Church in America, 1970 which guides this church in matters of marriage and family.
- ELCIC bishops and pastors have requested guidance from the church regarding the blessing of same-sex relationships.
- There is openness among many to recognizing same-sex committed relationships but not defining these relationships as marriage.
- It is further recognized that whatever action is taken by the ELCIC, our ecumenical and international partners desire to be included in the dialogue.
- There is recognition that an ELCIC recommended practice should acknowledge the diversity of opinions in this church and at the same time seek to affirm what this church is able to say together at this time.