Our Lutheran friends and family north of the border (Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada—ELCIC) are boldly stepping forward with the process of creating a social statement on human sexuality. Of course, it was the ELCA sexuality statement and related changes to ministry policies enacted at the 2009 churchwide assembly (CWA09) that has roiled the ELCA, the largest Lutheran denomination in the United States. The Canadian Lutherans are in the process of discernment and discussion with the goal of presenting the finished policy statement to their 2011 national assembly. For information on the process, check out the ELCIC website.
At this time, the first draft has been created consisting of eleven pages. Although the document deals with the broad range of human sexuality, certainly the passages relating to gays and lesbians will draw the greatest attention. Here is what this preliminary document, released April 15th, states:
This church acknowledges diversity of opinion on how to respond to the reality that people of orientations other than heterosexual are members of our neighbourhood and are faithful members of this church. Our church is affected by the biases of our heterosexually-privileged culture, and by our society’s call for more openness. Working from a rich and faithful practice of Word and Sacrament, members of this church have come to very different opinions on these matters.
Opportunities for ministry will be maximized by permitting congregations to engage in practices that more fully enable persons of various sexual orientations to live as members of the body of Christ and as co-workers in ministry. This would empower congregations to support families and the processes of healing, no matter how family is defined, and to help nurture disciples who “are responsible persons made in the image of God.”
This church commits itself to engaging the diverse faces of the world in which we live. This church recognizes that meeting diverse peoples and forming a truly inclusive community will be a journey of discovery that will include moments of discomfort and anxiety. This church celebrates the vital role that congregations play in helping diverse people of faith to meet and to form community.