Sometime around Noon tomorrow (Wednesday the 18th) I'll be among the thousands of ELCA pastors and rostered lay ministers receiving an e-mail from the church HQ with the URL to download the final report of the Task Force for ELCA Studies on Sexuality. Twenty-four hours later, everyone will be able to download it from here.
Yes, our church is still paranoid about repeated release of our first draft social statement on human sexuality back in the autumn of 1994 -- when the press and the few people then on LutherLink had access to it while snafus at Augsburg Fortress meant that the mailing to the ELCA pastors was delayed. Which became a problem when headline writers became enamored of some rather startling (at least to the press) comments in the proposal about homosexuality, masturbation, and non-marital sexual relations while most ELCA pastors found out about this when 1) the local press called them for reactions or 1) we read about it in the paper.
That statement was kiboshed a few months later and the whole idea of a statement on sexuality, which had been put on the front burner largely because of the controversy over ordaining practicing gays, was quietly set aside until 2001, when the illicit ordination of a lesbian re-ignited that controversy and the ELCA Churchwide Assembly chose to study sexuality once again. And every step of the journey since the ELCA has gone to great lengths to make sure that we pastors have a 24 hour head start over the official release of a study or a draft proposal -- though the press hasn't been nearly as excited any of those times as it was in 1994.
The proposed Social Statement coming out this week along with a separate recommendation on the rostering of gay/lesbian candidates for ministry are the culmination of that 2001 decision. And less than 13 hours before its pre-release release, the question remains, "Will we be presented with anything worth 7 years of work?"
I'm not holding my breath. Which is really quite sad.