That was the the week that was, to borrow a line from a 60’s TV show. I spent the weekend winding down after a busy and emotional week at the 2009 ELCA convention as a volunteer for Goodsoil, an LGBT friendly advocacy group. I offered regular posts throughout the week as the events unfolded, but I suggest two posts, in particular, that reflect the mood on the ground regarding the two critical votes: passing the human sexuality statement and passing the recommendation to allow persons in “publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships to serve as rostered leaders of this church.”
Immediately after the Friday vote to allow gay clergy, I saw Lutheran Core representatives “spinning” the press (I talked to a young reporter from the New York Times right after she had been “spun” with the Core talking points). It’s hardly surprising that the media tends to focus on the negative, the conservative backlash, the prospect that some may leave the ELCA, when Lutheran Core chooses to fan the flames of dissent. The Core press release sounded an open call to schism:
Lutheran CORE leaders are calling on faithful Lutherans to meet in Indianapolis in September to begin an expanded ministry that draws faithful ELCA congregations and members together. They are also encouraging ELCA members and congregations to direct finances away from the ELCA churchwide organization to faithful ministries within and outside of the ELCA.
Since they call on “faithful Lutherans” and “faithful ELCA congregations”, by implication they accuse those who voted with the majority to be faithless. This is no conciliatory, unity seeking group; they are hard liners and power hungry.
And, I do not believe they are representative of the many who resisted the assembly actions who nevertheless will remain faithful members of the ELCA. Former Governor of Minnesota and assembly voting member Al Quie is typical. Quie had been a leading spokesman on the assembly floor against the various resolutions, yet, he cautioned against overreaction:
After the vote on the third resolution, when another opponent of the rule change threatened to pull out of the ELCA in protest, it was Quie who returned to the microphone to chastise such reactions.
"I was opposed to this [change], too, but that’s my problem," he said. "You can’t say now that you’re going to leave the church. We have to live with this change for a while and see how it works out."
Back home in Northfield, Mn at my Sunday worship service at Bethel Lutheran Church, I heard an inspired sermon from my Pastor, Tim McDermott, based on the gospel text from John, chapter 6.
When many of his disciples heard it, they said. “This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?” … Because of this, many of his disciples turned back and no longer went with him. So Jesus asked the twelve, “Do you also wish to go away?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life.”
And therein lies our unity, though we are male and female, rich and poor, of many rainbow colors, gay and straight, and often of a different mind.
Presbyterian Pastor John Shuck in his Shuck and Jive blog, demonstrates the media’s flippant disregard of the carefully crafted language of the resolutions regarding committed relationships. Instead of referring to persons in “publicly accountable, life-long, monogamous, same gender relationships” (the correct language), the media prefered its own terminology “sexually active gays”:
“Sexually active? As if they are a bunch of horny teens making out in the back of the church van.”
The media tends to titillation whether in reporting disagreement or sex.