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MINNEAPOLIS: ELCA Leaders follow Episcopal Church on Homosexual Marriage

MINNEAPOLIS: ELCA Leaders follow Episcopal Church on Homosexual Marriage

Lutheran CORE leaders respond to ELCA action adopting social statement overturning biblical teaching on marriage and sexuality by one-vote margin

April 19, 2009

Leaders of Lutheran CORE (Coalition for Reform) expressed profound sorrow over the decision Wednesday, Aug. 19, by the Churchwide Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America to adopt a social statement on sexuality which overturns biblical teaching on marriage and homosexual behavior. The social statement was approved by a one-vote margin.

"We mourn the decision by the Churchwide Assembly to reject the clear teaching of the Bible that God's intention for marriage is the relationship of one man and one woman," said the Rev. Paull Spring of State College, Pa., chair of Lutheran CORE. "It is tragic that such a large number of ELCA members were willing to overturn the clear teaching of the Bible as it has been believed and confessed by Christians for nearly 2,000 years."

"We are disappointed that this social statement has caused such a deep division in the church," added Spring, the retired bishop of the Northwestern Pennsylvania Synod. "For this social statement to pass by only one vote shows how deeply divided the ELCA is and will continue to be."

"It is appropriate that we call this a 'social' statement for we have just swapped society's statements and trends for God's Word and teaching," said Jaynan Clark of Spokane, Wash., president of the WordAlone Network, a member reform movement of Lutheran CORE.

"Even more distressing than the passage of the social statement is the fact that the assembly majority would not even listen to debate on many of the proposed amendments to the social statement that would have affirmed biblical teaching and the historic teaching of the Christian Church," said Ryan Schwarz of Washington, D.C., a member of the Lutheran CORE Steering Committee.

"This is a sad day for Lutherans in the United States. I am disappointed that so many voting members were willing to overturn the Bible's teaching," said the Rev. Erma Wolf of Brandon, S.D., vice chair of the Lutheran CORE Steering Committee. "The ELCA is a very divided church. This decision divides us even more. It is going to be very hard for faithful Lutherans to support the ELCA when the ELCA is willing to reject the clear teaching of Scripture."

Lutheran CORE leaders will be working to defeat further proposals which would allow ELCA pastors to be in committed same-sex relationships and would permit the blessing of same-sex unions by the church. The Churchwide Assembly will begin consideration of these proposals on Thursday. A vote is scheduled for Friday.

"We are grateful for the many faithful Lutherans who have stood with us in confessing the teaching of Scripture on marriage and on homosexual behavior. We call on all those in the ELCA who want to continue to uphold the authority of Scripture in the church to work together even more closely in the days and years ahead," said Spring. "It is tragic that ELCA leaders thought it possible to bring this proposal to a vote. The church should not be voting on whether or not to follow the teaching of the Bible."

Lutheran CORE is hosting a convocation Sept. 25-26 in suburban Indianapolis for ELCA Lutherans who continue to affirm the authority of Scripture to gather together to discuss the implications of the decisions of the ELCA Churchwide Assembly and what the future might hold for them and their congregations.

---Lutheran CORE is a coalition of pastors, lay people, congregations and reforming groups that seeks to preserve the authority of the Bible in the ELCA. Lutheran CORE seeks to be a voice for the solid, faithful core that is the majority of ELCA members, pastors, and congregations. More information is available at www.lutherancore.org.

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