Soulforce and the Lutheran Alliance for Full Participation conducted vigils and leafleting during the ELCA Churchwide Assembly to help educate voting members
Press Release: August 16, 2003
For Immediate Release
Contact: Laura Montgomery Rutt
Cell 717-278-0592 email:Laura@soulforce.org
(Milwaukee, WI) – On the final afternoon session of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) Churchwide Assembly, voting members rejected an amendment to a memorial that would have delayed the final report of a churchwide study on homosexuality. The Assembly voted in 2001 to set up a taskforce to enable churches to study the issue of homosexuality, and issue a final report in 2005.
Some members of the church had tried to delay the final report, which would have further postponed the decision on ordaining non-celibate gays and lesbians into the full ministry of the church. Several ordained ministers have lost their credentials because they have refused to abide by the church’s requirement of celibacy for gay and lesbian ministers.
“We are glad that the church has kept its promise to us. Now we only have two more years to have our lives studied and debated,” stated Greg Egertson, Co-Chair of Lutheran Lesbian and Gay Ministries. "However, then the church can move on and fully embrace us for who we are and who God called us to be, as full participants in the ELCA without requiring us to take a vow of celibacy or lie about our relationships.”
Additionally, voting members committed to continuing the relationship with the Episcopal Church, despite efforts by a minority to break that relationship because the Episcopal Church recently installed Gene Robertson as a bishop. Robinson is an openly gay man living in a committed relationship with another man.
The request for Soulforce to be at the ELCA Churchwide Assembly was made by the Lutheran Alliance for Full Participation, which includes five member organizations: Lutheran Lesbian and Gay Ministries, the Extraordinary Candidacy Project, the Lutheran Network for Inclusive Vision, Lutherans Concerned/North America, and Wingspan Ministries.
Soulforce and the Lutheran Alliance for Full Participation, were prepared to conduct a respectful and peaceful nonviolent civil disobedience if the Assembly had voted to delay the study.
“What a difference two years makes, so many people stopped and hugged us and thanked us for caring and being at the Assembly!” declared Karen Weldin, Director of Operations for Soulforce. “What we set out to do from the beginning was accomplished – simply hold the church accountable for its promise to us. However, we were prepared in case they didn’t.”
Soulforce is known for nonviolent direct actions during the denominational meetings of many of America’s largest denominations, such as Roman Catholic, Southern Baptist, United Methodist, Presbyterian Church (USA) and more. In the past 3 years, thousands have been trained in nonviolence, and over 500 have been arrested in acts of nonviolent civil disobedience.
For more information, see www.soulforce.org. For media interviews, call 717-278-0592.
Soulforce is a national interfaith movement committed to ending spiritual violence perpetuated by religious policies and teachings against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people. Soulforce employs the nonviolent principles of Gandhi and King to the liberation of sexual and gender minorities.