Reforming Church Needed after Close Vote on Same-Sex Blessings

Article excerpt

"This is not a one-agenda church!" declared National Bishop Raymond Schultz in his opening remarks to the 394 delegates and 168 visitors registered for the 1 lth biennial National Convention of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) in Winnipeg. With that statement, he put the assembly on notice that the National Church Council (NCC) motion on same-sex blessings was but one of numerous other mission initiatives within the convention theme, In Mission for Others: A People Called.

Unlike the previous 2005 ELCIC proposal which allowed for a local congregational option across synodical lines, the recent motion would transfer the entire matter of same-gendered blessings into the hands of the five synodical (geographical areas like dioceses) bodies, giving them the jurisdictional right to determine the appropriateness of blessings in the context of their own respective territories.

There was, however, a significant segment of the convention which reacted as if the ELCIC was a "one-agenda church." This conservative segment not only nominated its own candidate for national bishop, but offered an entire slate of "anti-same-sex blessings" candidates for almost all vacant national positions, including NCC.

Bishop Schultz's announcement that the blessings motion failed by a vote of 200 to 181 was greeted by the delegates in a moment of stunned silence. On the other hand, all the incumbents recommended to national positions by the ELCIC nominations committee were re-elected. The vote for a new national bishop went to six ballots before Susan Johnson, assistant Eastern Synod bishop (since 1994), emerged victorious over a more conservative candidate by a total of 206 to 172 (see related story, this page).

In light of yet another clear division within the ELCIC, the Eastern Synod will debate what subsequent action it will take at its next convention in 2008. …