Note: This post is intended to be short and to the point. Dennis Nelson, CORE’s Executive Director, has also written a longer version which can be found here as well as via the button located at the bottom of this article.
The ELCA’s Churchwide Assembly (CWA) begins on Monday, August 8, 2022 and concludes on the 12th. We’ve chosen to highlight three items.
Under each of the following headings you will see the suggested changes to various documents on the left followed by text explaining why this caught CORE’s attention.
The Mission of Colleges and Universities
Other recommended changes to the Constitution of the ELCA can be viewed here. These are expected to be voted upon en bloc.
The proposed changes on the left leave us wondering:
Are ELCA colleges and universities no longer to be Lutheran/Christian; no longer faithful to the will of God; no longer to provide religious education and worshiping community; no longer to provide holistic care of students (body, mind, spirit)? Are they to be merely vocational training institutes–indistinct from any other college or university out there–and nothing more?
What impact will this have upon colleges and universities which previously had a strong Lutheran identity and/or solid confessional teaching (e.g., Grand View University, home of the NEXUS Institute)? What will become of colleges and universities when they are no longer held accountable to the godly mission which they once had, and which is now being removed by constitutional amendment?
The rationale for the amendments does not acknowledge that a significant change has been made to the mission of the colleges and universities or explain why.
The Role of Rostered Ministers
The following comes from this list of constitutional amendments which were approved at the 2019 CWA but are still unofficial; the plan is for them to be ratified, en bloc, in 2022.
Are rostered ministers no longer to be “proclaiming God’s love for the world” and/or “witnessing to the realm of God in the community, the nation, and abroad”? Why?
This change is rather shocking given that even “radical liberal” clergy would generally agree that it is their responsibility to be “proclaiming God’s love” and “witnessing to the realm of God”–albeit, perhaps, with different definitions of “God’s love” and the “realm of God” in mind than confessional Lutherans hold.
Revision of Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust
The third item comes from the report of the Memorials Committee (PDF). The memorial below is to be discussed separately from the “en bloc”, and others can dispute the recommendations and/or make their own proposals on the assembly floor. The most expansive and specific of the report’s demand is on the left:
In a nutshell, this synod is asking for a review of the Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust social statement in order to revise it “to reflect current church understanding, church policy, civil law, and public acceptance of marriage of same-gender and gender non-conforming couples.”
Revisionists in the ELCA apparently could restrict or eliminate “bound conscience,” thereby forcing churches and clergy to adhere to LGBTQ+ affirming policies.
Although the “resolved” is unclear about what it means when it says “current church understanding, church policy, civil law, and public acceptance…”, the activities and the advocacy of ReconcilingWorks and Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries (ELM), which has included such things as allowing those who identify as polyamorous to be included on the ELM’s Proclaim roster of LGBTQ+ clergy and seminarians, and as redefining marriage as a mere aspiration rather than as a hard requirement of sexually active rostered leaders, gives us some hint of what we might expect from a proposed revision of this social statement.