For years, the largest U.S. Lutheran denomination has avoided some of the rancor over the issue of same-sex relationships that has divided the Episcopal Church and, to a lesser extent, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the United Methodist Church. That could change, given two different decisions by the 4.8-million-member Evangelical Lutheran Church in America at its 2007 biennial assembly August 6-11 at Chicago’s Navy Pier.
The Churchwide Assembly voted August 10 not to overturn the denomination’s rules that bar the ordination of noncelibate homosexual clergy. The 1,000 voting delegates appeared to prefer dealing with that policy in 2009 when the assembly will discuss a long-awaited study on human sexuality.
But a day later, the delegates approved a resolution that calls on bishops and synods to “refrain” from taking punitive action or to “demonstrate restraint” in disciplining gay clergy in committed relationships.