Monday, August 13, 2007

ELO: ELCA calls for bishops to refrain from disciplining gay clergy

Episcopal Life Online - NEWS: "The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's (ELCA) Churchwide Assembly, which ended its meeting August 12, has called for bishops to refrain from disciplining clergy members who are in same-gender relationships.

Current ELCA discipline requires gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered leaders (GLBT), both lay and ordained, to be celibate. The assembly made no changes to that standard for its professional leaders.

However, by a vote of 538 to 431, the assembly encouraged the ELCA's synods, bishops and presiding bishop to 'refrain from or demonstrate restraint in disciplining' people and congregations who call qualified leaders on the professional rosters of the ELCA 'who are in a mutual, chaste and faithful, committed, same-gender relationship.'

The assembly also stated that the same restraint should apply to the professional leaders who are on the denomination's official rosters and are in committed same-gender relationships.

According to the ELCA News Service, the Rev. Mark S. Hanson, ELCA presiding bishop, said at a news conference that the key words from the adopted action were that the Churchwide Assembly 'prays, urges, and encourages' refraining or demonstrating restraint in discipline.

'These are words of counsel,' Hanson said. 'They are not words that change the standards of the church. They reflect the mind of this assembly as it seeks to give counsel to the leaders of the church.'"


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