From the Worldwide Faith News archives

ELCA Assembly Considers "Listening Posts" for Gay, Lesbian People

Date Sun, 17 Aug 2003 10:10:28 -0500


August 17, 2003

ELCA Assembly Considers "Listening Posts" for Gay, Lesbian People

     MILWAUKEE (ELCA) -- The 2003 Churchwide Assembly of the
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) considered a motion
designed to encourage the 5 million-member church to organize
"listening posts" for the purpose of hearing the experiences of
Lutherans who are gay and lesbian.  The assembly voted to refer
the motion to the Task Force for ELCA Studies on Sexuality as
     The churchwide assembly, the chief legislative authority of
the ELCA, is meeting here Aug. 11-17 at the Midwest Airlines
Center.  There are about 2,100 people participating, including
1,031 ELCA voting members.  The theme for the biennial assembly
is "Making Christ Known:  For the Healing of the World."
     Sally Young, Waterloo, Iowa, a member of the ELCA Church
Council, presented the motion to the assembly along with a
recommendation that the motion be referred "as information" to
the task force.  The recommendation came from the council's
Committee of Reference and Counsel, which Young chairs.  The
Church Council is the ELCA's board of directors and serves as the
legislative authority of the church between churchwide
     Allison A. Guttu, voting member, ELCA Metropolitan New York
Synod, who submitted the motion to the committee, asked the
assembly to substitute her motion for the committee's
     With a vote of 386 to 586, the assembly declined to
substitute Guttu's motion for the committee's recommendation, and
then voted 834 to 136 to accept that recommendation.
     In her motion, Guttu wrote that the purpose of the listening
posts is "to provide opportunities for conversations with gay and
lesbian Lutherans, not to debate homosexuality, ordination or
same-gender blessings."  Such listening events would be conducted
at each of the ELCA's 65 synods in 2004 and 2005 and at the 2005
ELCA Churchwide Assembly.
     The 2001 ELCA Churchwide Assembly took three actions to call
the ELCA into a process of study on homosexuality.  That assembly
called for a progress report on the studies to the 2003 assembly;
a final report with recommendations to be presented to the 2005
Churchwide Assembly; and, asked the ELCA Division for Church in
Society to prepare a social statement on human sexuality.
     Current ELCA policy expects ministers to refrain from all
sexual relations outside marriage.  Since the church has no
official policy on blessing same-gender relationships, this
precludes homosexuals in relationships from ordained ministry.
The ELCA Conference of Bishops, an advisory body of the church,
stated it does not approve of such ceremonies.
     To oversee the church's studies on sexuality, a task force
was assembled by the ELCA Division for Ministry and Division for
Church in Society in May 2002.	The task force assists the
divisions in developing study materials, recommendations and
proposals regarding the assembly mandates.
-- -- --
Information about the 2003 ELCA Churchwide Assembly can be found
at on the Web.

For information contact:
John Brooks, Director (773) 380-2958 or

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