Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Lutherans Cautious on Split after Gay Vote

From "Crosswalk"-

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America had debated lifting its ban on non-celibate gay clergy for years, with tensions flaring at each biennial Churchwide Assembly.

Still, when the ban was finally lifted late Friday (Aug. 21), it came as a surprise -- and an unwelcome one at that -- to some conservatives in the nation's largest Lutheran denomination.

"The first reaction is that they are stunned," said the Rev. Jonathan Jenkins, who addressed the new clergy policy at his Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Lebanon, Pa. "We've been talking about this as a possibility for some time, but I think most of our people did not expect this to happen."

Jenkins said that many, but not all, members of his congregation, where 185 gather for worship each Sunday, were dismayed by the change.

Jenkins is one of several pastors who are organizing a meeting in Central Pennsylvania this week to discuss the new policy and whether to stay in the ELCA.

Even before last week's convention in Minneapolis, conservatives in Lutheran CORE, which counts about 300,000 members, planned to hold their own gathering next month in Indianapolis. CORE leaders said the group will consider a range of options, from creating a separate church within the ELCA to directing donations away from the ELCA's Chicago headquarters.

Delegates at the ELCA's convention said opening the pulpit to gay clergy in committed, monogamous relationships accords with the Bible's overall message of tolerance and inclusion. But conservatives say the Bible clearly denounces homosexual activity, and that any church that condones homosexuality has turned its back on Scripture.

More here-

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