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The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada is Canada’s largest Lutheran denomination with 182,077 baptized members in 624 congregations. It is a member of the Lutheran World Federation, the Canadian Council of Churches, and the World Council of Churches.

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A NEWS RELEASE
From National Office of the ELCIC

LETTER TO THE CHURCH
FROM NATIONAL BISHOP RAYMOND SCHULTZ

Winnipeg, 17 July 2006 --The following is the text from a letter to the Church from National Bishop Raymond Schultz:

Dear Friends,

Many members of the ELCIC are aware that the Eastern Synod, meeting in convention Thursday, July 6, 2006, voted by a 72% majority, the following resolution:
That the Eastern Synod of the ELCIC recognizes that the blessing of same-gender couples who want to make a life-long commitment to one another in the presence of God and their community of faith is a matter of pastoral and congregational discretion. Authorization to perform such blessings shall require the consent of the pastor and the consent of the congregation or calling agency, as expressed by a 2/3 majority vote at a duly called meeting of the congregation or calling agency, and in consultation with the bishop.

Some delegates to the Eastern Synod convention questioned whether the synod has the jurisdiction to adopt such an action, particularly in view of the fact that the 2005 National Convention rejected a resolution very similar in wording. However, a motion to refer the matter to National Church Council (NCC) and/or the Court of Adjudication for a ruling was defeated.

In a pastoral letter dated July 9, 2006, Bishop Pryse wrote:
By virtue of this action, same gender couples may now have their unions blessed within the context of those Eastern Synod ministries which are willing and able to meet the conditions specified within this motion.

The Officers of this church will bring a recommendation to NCC regarding the legality of the Eastern Synod resolution at the September 15-16, 2006 meeting to be held in Winnipeg. The Constitution, Bylaws and National/Synodical Responsibilities policy of the ELCIC will form the basis on which the decision is made. The question will not be referred to the Court of Adjudication unless an appeal of the NCC’s decision is filed.

It would be advisable for congregations considering the blessing of same gender couples to wait until NCC has made a ruling on this matter before proceeding further.

I would hope that members and ministers of this church will refrain from speculating on possible outcomes before NCC has opportunity to issue its ruling. Rather than call an immediate meeting without sufficient preparation, I have urged NCC to take the time between now and the next meeting to review the action of the Eastern Synod in light of this church’s documents and prepare itself for a jurisdictional ruling.

A number of members have written letters to NCC expressing their concern over this matter. They have been assured that their letters have been received and that the matter has been placed on NCC’s agenda. Due to staff vacations in the national office, it may not be possible to reply to subsequent correspondence in a timely manner.

National Bishop Raymond Schultz
Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC)

For more information, please contact:


Ms.Trina Gallop, Manager of Communications
302 - 393 Portage Ave. Winnipeg MB R3B 3H6
204.984.9172
tgallop@elcic.ca

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