Overshadowed by the ELCA decision to allow gay clergy in committed relationships, the full communion agreement with the United Methodist Church would normally have drawn greater attention. Here is my original post on this ELCA convention 2009 action on the full communion agreement.
The blog of the Independent Methodist weekly newspaper, United Methodist Reporter, offered an initial report of the agreement with mixed comments.
Perhaps the most significant practical aspect of a full communion agreement is the possibility of shared clergy. Now that the ELCA has opened the door for rostered clergy in “publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships”, could such persons be called by a Methodist congregation contrary to UMC ministry standards? The answer is no, according to the United Methodist Church website:
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s acceptance of pastors in same-sex relationships does not pave the way for noncelibate gay clergy to serve in United Methodist churches, officials from the two denominations said.
The Lutheran vote Aug. 21 to drop its ban on gay clergy, coming a day after the denomination approved a full communion pact including the sharing of clergy with The United Methodist Church, raised the question of whether practicing homosexual Lutheran pastors would be permitted in United Methodist pulpits.
Leaders from both churches said Aug. 26, however, that The United Methodist Church’s ban on noncelibate gay clergy is unchanged.
“Our Book of Discipline on that subject did not become null and void when they took that vote," said Bishop Gregory Palmer, president of the United Methodist Council of Bishops. "It still applies to United Methodist clergy."
He said there is an expectation that the church’s stance "would need to be respected" by clergy appointed to serve United Methodist churches.
On the Lutheran side, Michael Trice, associate executive for Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Relations of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, said the full communion agreement on Aug. 20 “did not compromise” United Methodist ministerial standards.
If clergy in “same-gendered, long-term relationships in the ELCA … want to serve in a United Methodist Church, The United Methodist Church can say we are sorry but that does not fit our protocols," Trice said.
#CWA09 & #Goodsoil09