Lutherans endorsed initiatives to become more welcoming to gay and lesbian Christians during their Regina convention. They will also pursue closer ties with their Lutheran brethren.
The convention affirmed the National Church Council’s long-term goal that the ELCIC “strive to create an environment to enable the development of policies and ministries that will assist the church in becoming a more inclusive place for gay and lesbian people.” The convention resolution endorsing the action added the word “welcoming.”
Delegates also defeated a motion that condemned “any sexual activity outside the boundaries of a heterosexual marriage” as unpleasing to God.
One opposition speaker said the council action revealed an agenda different from the people of the church, while another warned, “people in the pew are worried about how this is going to be handled.”
Delegates rejected an attempt to change the nature of the dialogue with gays and lesbians by including groups purporting to cure or change a person’s sexual orientation. A proposed motion affirming the anti-homosexual stance of a resolution from last year’s Lambeth Conference failed to get a seconder.
The convention also agreed almost unanimously to approach the Lutheran Church – Canada (LCC), affiliated with Missouri Synod in the U.S.A., with a proposal for interim sharing of the Eucharist for five years, beginning in October. The two denominations differ on several issues, including women’s ordination.
Preliminary consultations had already taken place, which led to the ELCIC initiative. Supporting the resolution, one delegate said, “The LCC sense that they have separated themselves too far – they are yearning for fellowship.”
During their three days of meetings, delegates also:
- called on governments to reduce child poverty, by increasing employment and income security for families, funding early childhood care and education and increasing access to affordable social housing;
- endorsed the work and programs of a committee that “assist(s) families in keeping their baptismal promises;”
- joined the Canadian Council of Churches in calling for a federal inquiry into the social impact of state-sponsored gambling, and called for a halt to the expansion of gambling ventures;
- protested to Ottawa and the UN about the “continuing unacceptable treatment of women by the government of Afghanistan;”
- recommended the church’s executive “pursue conversations with Jewish leaders on topics that are mutually acceptable and may lead to greater understanding.” This followed a 1995 convention decision to repudiate anti-Jewish statements in various writings of Martin Luther.
- approved a national operating budget of $1.3 million for 2000.