A NEWS RELEASE
From the Office of the Bishop
Winnipeg, March 31, 2004 (ELCIC) -- In November 2003, the ELCIC National Church Council communicated their encouragement to discuss the questions related to the practice of same sex blessings across the different expressions of the ELCIC with the following information:
- There are specific and compelling reasons to engage this question such as concern in congregations and among pastors about their pastoral practice, questions in the wider society regarding the practice, religious freedom and its protection in Canada and our commitment to a church united in the gospel;
- This is a difficult issue for the ELCIC and the participation of the whole church is needed to address the question;
- We (National Church Council) affirm the high level of interest and deliberation already expressed as a sign of vital engagement with issues of importance; and
- We encourage congregations, clergy gatherings, conferences and synods to use the constitutional process of this church to examine the issue and give direction to this church’s deliberations; such examination should include prayer, biblical and confessional study and responsible engagement with one another with insights from scientific and sociological disciplines and with awareness of implications for our ecumenical relations; and
- We will receive input from across this church in order that the ELCIC may act together on this issue.
At the March 2004 National Church Council meeting, Council members participated in a discernment session using Journey Together Faithfully, a resource of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Subsequent to this session, it was agreed to offer Journey Together Faithfully plus a resource identifying the ELCIC context as an option to assist ELCIC members to engage in the discussions encouraged by National Church Council.
Journey Together Faithfully is a set of two study guides produced by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America to assist the church to engage in studies on homosexuality and human sexuality. The first study deals with the blessing of same-gender unions and the rostering of persons in committed gay or lesbian relationships; the second study is meant to lead to the development of a social statement on sexuality. The Journey Together Faithfully studies are found at http://www.elca.org/faithfuljourney/
. The resource outlining the ELCIC context is posted on the ELCIC website at http://www.elcic.ca/docs/04context.html
National Church Council also directed the National Bishop to provide a report to the September NCC meeting advising on the process to develop a social statement for the ELCIC on sexuality, marriage and the family. This action reflects the concern of NCC that the 1970 Lutheran Church in America Social Statement on Sex, Marriage and the Family should be replaced with a more current ELCIC statement.