Published April 18 2010
ELCA synod votes down resolution on sexualityJAMESTOWN, N.D. – The Eastern North Dakota Synod of the nation’s largest Lutheran body voted Saturday against a resolution calling for the church to reverse its acceptance of a controversial social statement on human sexuality.
Voting members at this weekend’s annual Eastern North Dakota (END) Synod Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America voted down the resolution by a margin of 249-179.
“Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust” was passed at the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s Churchwide Assembly and was seen by critics as betraying scriptural teaching on sexuality, most notably homosexuality.
Wade Bloom, a member of St. John Lutheran in Fargo and a voting member at the assembly, believes the END Synod Assembly did the right thing in rejecting the resolution.
“I mean, there was a lot of thought put into that vote (at the Churchwide Assembly), years of discussion, years of thought,” he said. “It basically said we agree to disagree. And so I don’t think that within that statement there was anyone who fell off the edges.”
Patrick McCormack, pastor at St. Matthew’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Thompson, N.D., was among those who voted against the resolution Saturday.
“You know, I think we need to move on,” he said, adding that there were other issues that the church needs to address.
Don Clark of First Lutheran in Fargo was on the other side of the issue.
“I’m just afraid that the ELCA will pay a heavy price in the future,” he said. People are starting to “vote with their feet already.”
Craig Carlson was also disappointed that the END Assembly killed the resolution.
“I just don’t understand how the church can be based on something and they can teach you that something’s wrong and then they can also say, ‘Well, wait. It’s OK,’ ” he said.
Attendance at the assembly was 478 as of Saturday morning; 422 of those were voting members. The Eastern North Dakota Synod is one of 65 synods in the ELCA. There are 230 congregations and about 102,000 members within the END Synod.
Had it passed, the resolution would not have changed denomination policy but simply expressed a desire on the part of the END Synod that the ELCA reverse its action on the social statement.
Of course, the assembly’s action Saturday does not mean that debate within the ELCA on this issue is over.
“Well, discussions like this may be happening in 64 other synods,” END Synod Bishop Bill Rindy said after the vote. “And so my sense is that somewhere along the line some synod may pass (a resolution like the one the assembly defeated), and if it gets passed, then we’ll have the discussion at the Churchwide Assembly again in 2011.”
It’s unclear what Saturday’s vote says about the fate of another resolution on today’s agenda. That resolution would call on the denomination to rescind actions at the ELCA Churchwide Assembly in August that opened the door for individuals in committed same-gender relationships to serve in the clergy.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Shane Mercer at (701) 451-5734