The president of the second largest
Lutheran denomination in the U.S. is urging Lutherans to reject
recently approved pro-gay resolutions or risk losing his church's
In August, representatives of the
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), the largest Lutheran
denomination in America with nearly 5 million members, voted in favor
of eliminating its 20-year-old ban against partnered gay and lesbian
clergy. Previously, gay clergy were welcome in the church but were
required to remain celibate. ELCA representatives also adopted a
little-noticed gay unions resolution during its Minneapolis meeting.
The gay unions resolution only says that the church has committed
itself to finding a way to recognize and support gay relationships.
But the resolution could be used to support the belief that
individual synods (or dioceses) may bless gay unions at their
discretion, pastors say.
In a letter addressed to Bishop Mark S.
Hanson, the presiding Bishop of the ELCA, and the Conference of
Bishops gathering in Chicago this weekend, Gerald B. Kieschnick,
president of the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod (LCMS), which
includes about 2.4 million members, urged the church to reject the
Hanson is overseeing the ELCA
Conference of Bishops.
“Bishop Hanson and Conference of
Bishops … it would be a blessing to our ongoing cooperative
relationships if the actions taken at the ELCA Assembly were not
implemented, nor given influence, in the context of inter-Lutheran
ministries involving the LCMS and the ELCA, so that these
relationships would be neither damaged nor destroyed,” Kieschnick
Last month, conservative members of the
ELCA agreed to look into leaving the church over the gay resolutions.
About 1,200 members of the Lutheran Coalition for Renewal (Lutheran
CORE) meeting in Indianapolis voted to remain in the ELCA but
authorized creation of a panel to look into leaving the church, with
recommendations to be issued next year.
At that meeting, Rev. Paul Ulring told
attendees that gay issues had divided the church.
“We are not dividing the church. The
church is already divided. We're just mopping up what the church
did,” he said. “There is a future for us, a future that we only
glimpse right now. Things will happen that will make it possible for
us to do this [leave the church], things that aren't clear right now,
but Jesus is in clear view.”