The Lutheran Church created quite a
stir last month when it dropped its 20-year-old ban on partnered gay
and lesbian clergy. But it seems its nod to gay unions got lost in
the debate that followed.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in
America (ELCA), the largest Lutheran denomination in America with
nearly 5 million members, approved a little-noticed gay unions
resolution during its meeting in Minneapolis.
While the resolution calls for support
of gay unions, it leaves the church's policy on gay marriage unclear.
The resolution was adopted on a 619 to
402 vote and says: “Resolved, that the ELCA commit itself to
finding ways to allow congregations that choose to do so to
recognize, support and hold publicly accountable lifelong,
monogamous, same-gender relationships.”
When asked if the resolution meant
pastors would be free to bless gay marriages, Phil Soucy of the
liberal Lutheran group Lutherans Concerned/North America dodged our
question, saying only that the church “has committed itself to
finding a way” to recognize and support gay relationships.
How to translate the resolution –
whether gay relationships include marriage and whether recognizing
implies blessing – has either been left up to individual
congregations or will be addressed by the church at a later date.
Lutheran churches in Sweden and Denmark
have recognized – and blessed – gay unions for about a dozen