Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Sexuality Statement Hijinx

You won't find it on its web site, but the "Amen Corner" down the the left column of the "Faith & Values" main page in last Saturday's Peoria Journal Star featured the color ELCA logo near the bottom, with a headline in bold red ink underneath:


    The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America will soon release a draft of its social statement on human sexuality, including proposed teaching on gay relationships.
    The document "Free in Christ to Serve the Neighbor: Lutherans Talk about Human Sexuality" is scheduled to be made public on Thursday by the Task Force for ELCA Studies on Sexuality. — Associated Press
I've already mentioned the unfortunate timing (more on that in a moment). And, as an aside, the title of the report given by the AP is that of the churchwide study completed last Fall -- the proposed statement will likely have a new title. Oh, and it's not supposed to have much to say about gay relationship either -- that's a separate issue.

Anyway, I was ready Sunday morning for someone to ask about it, but if any Zionites noticed they weren't saying anything to their Pastor. Last Wednesday, ELCA rostered leaders received this e-mail:
Dear rostered leader:

Greetings to you during this Lenten season.

The purpose of this communication is to inform all rostered leaders of the process for the upcoming March 13 release of the ELCA Draft Social Statement on Human Sexuality and your particular role in that process.

The draft will be made available to the ELCA on March 13 at 1:00 p.m. Eastern time at www.elca.org/faithfuljourney on the ELCA Web site. It will be mailed on March 13 to all rostered leaders and congregations.

On the morning of March 12 rostered leaders will receive an e-mail indicating the Web link for accessing an embargoed and strictly confidential preview of the document. The Web link will be accessible as of 1:00 p.m. Eastern Time on March 12.

You have an important leadership role to play in relation to this process. The hope is that being able to read a copy early will assist you in responding in an informed way at the time of the public release.

For your information, all press coverage will be subject to an embargo until 1:00 p.m. Eastern Time on March 13. Thank you in advance for your unqualified respect for the embargo and the strict confidentiality level of this early review.

The draft social statement on the Web site will be accompanied by several documents to assist you in your preparation. These include an executive summary of the draft for quick reference, a "Q&A" of common questions and answers, and a set of media talking points to assist you in responding to any media calls you may receive.

The task force thanks you for your accompaniment in this journey together and for your leadership role in encouraging deliberation of this draft social statement. Let us continue to hold one another and this church in prayer in the months to come.

Kind regards,

Rebecca S. Larson
Executive Director, Church in Society

P.S. For a detailed timeline on the social statement process, please go to www.elca.org/faithfuljourney/timeline on the Journey Together Faithfully Web site.
I'm still thinking over whether or not to download the proposal, much less read through it in time for the Journal Star's Religion Editor Mike Miller to maybe give me a call. If there were any chance that it would be more like the 1970 LCA Social Statement Sex, Marriage, and Family, which covered all that in 6 pages, I'd feel a little better about pausing Wednesday afternoon between Lenten services to read it. Part of me really wants to wait until after Easter Sunday. But what if it hits the news and folks respond to our ad in next Saturday's paper advertising our Holy Week services? What were they thinking?

In the meantime, it looks like the release of a first draft this week of 2008 will be a practice for next year in more ways than one. Take another look at this from the Studies on Sexuality Time Line for 2009:
Synod councils may bring resolutions to the ELCA Church Council related to the proposed social statement on human sexuality, implementing resolutions, and roster recommendations.

March 27 - 30
ELCA Church Council reviews text of proposed social statement and acts to recommend social statement on human sexuality, implementing resolutions, and roster recommendations, and directs that these be placed on the Churchwide Assembly agenda.

RECOMMENDED social statement on human sexuality, implementing resolutions, and roster recommendations are available to the church for discussion and response through synod assembly actions.
Note the lack of an exact date for when all that will actually be available. Here's a date we know: Easter Sunday 2009 is April 12, putting Passion/Palm Sunday April 5 to begin Holy Week.

Meanwhile, the earliest Synod Assemblies generally start meeting near the end of April. Since one reason we're getting the draft this week is to provide for enough time for April Synod Assemblies to study/comment upon the draft, certainly it'll be necessary to provide the same opportunity with the actual proposed statement, no? What else is there than the week before Holy Week 2009?

Do we laugh, or cry?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If sexuality in general and homoerotic partnerings in particular are your deepest passion, greatest value, and ultimate focus--then these have become your god, and the lofty statements rationalizing such behaviors and attitudes would make the days surrounding their release a "holy week".

Things have little changed from the days of Joshua "choose this day whom you shall serve."