In All Things, Charity

For Immediate Release, Saturday August 29, 2009

By Affirmation Co-spokesperson Tim Tennant-Jayne

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) made two very important decisions while meeting in Minneapolis, MN, at their Church-wide Assembly 2009.  First they approved a social statement on human sexuality, “Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust,” which is very supportive of same gender orientation and gender identity while recognizing that there is not uniformity of opinion within the denomination.  They also supported allowing local congregations to choose to call and ordain homosexual clergy who are living out their orientation.  Affirmation: United Methodists for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Concerns, applauds the ELCA for making these faith filled decisions and congratulates the organizations of Goodsoil for their work to ensure these actions.

The social statement provides the basis and guidance to form policy and programs for the ELCA.  It is tolerant of differences in scriptural interpretation and in practice.  The statement supports unity without requiring uniformity.  And while the ELCA did allow openly lesbian, gay, and bisexual clergy to be ordained, it forbade them from entering into life-affirming, same-gender relationships.  Now all ELCA clergy need not fear loving the person of their choice.  The denomination allows individual congregations to call someone who is in a relationship.

Some people noted that while the Assembly was discussing the Human Sexuality statement, a tornado caused damage to the building where the delegates were meeting. These voices fearfully pronounced this a sign of God’s disfavor.  As Christians, we are filled with God’s spirit of discernment and love and find this style of theologizing immature and on a level with studying animal entrails to learn God’s will.  Moreover, these persons failed to discern that the sun reappeared upon the taking of the vote to accept the study.

Affirmation celebrates the increasing number of Christian denominations that recognize that God’s love for us is not limited by who we are or whom we love.  We call upon The United Methodist Church to follow the guidance of the denominations which have opened themselves up to proclaiming and living God’s love.  These churches recognize that God does not limit a call to specialized service within the Church by gender identity or sexual orientation.  Yes, this is an area of great disagreement within our denomination and our society and causes members to leave the church.  However, most important issues rarely bring total uniformity.  As United Methodists, we have found ways to follow John Wesley’s teaching of “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity”.  Our diversity is a strong point of our denomination.  Affirmation recognizes that the solutions crafted by the ELCA or other denominations may not work for The United Methodist Church.  Yet we pledge that we will continue to work with The United Methodist Church in finding ways to be welcoming of all of God’s people.

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As an independent voice of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer people, Affirmation radically reclaims the compassionate and transforming gospel of Jesus Christ by relentlessly pursuing full inclusion in the Church as we journey with the Spirit in creating God’s beloved community.

Affirmation: United Methodists for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Concerns is an activist, all-volunteer, not-for-profit organization with no official ties to The United Methodist Church.

How to Contact Us: email: umaffirmation@... Affirmation web: http://www.umaffirm.org

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