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Lutheran Lesbian & Gay Ministries

March 22, 2001

ELCA Ministry Board Submits Report on Homosexuality

CHICAGO (ELCA) -- The board of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) Division for Ministry met here March 9-11 and submitted the "Report on Conversations about Homosexuality and the Church" to the ELCA Church Council and to the 2001 Churchwide Assembly. Staff from several units of the church compiled the report.

"It's a report of different actions and meetings and commitments" the church has made regarding homosexuality, said the Rev. Joseph M. Wagner, executive director of the ELCA Division for Ministry. The ELCA Church Council asked the division to report annually to the council and in 2001 and 2003 to the ELCA churchwide assembly. The council will meet here April 6-8; the assembly will meet August 8-14 in Indianapolis.

The Division for Ministry prepared the report with the ELCA Commission for Women, Conference of Bishops, Department for Communication, Division for Church in Society, Division for Congregational Ministries, Division for Higher Education and Schools, and Division for Outreach. The report summarized activities "these churchwide units have developed, promoted, participated in or observed" since September 1999.

The report lists four types of study materials the church has produced, 10 instances of ongoing formal conversations in which the ELCA was engaged, three special events it sponsored, seven related activities or services it provided, and several other activities that did not fall into those categories.

"This is a basic description of what's been going on," said Kevin J. Boatright, Madison, Wis., chair of the ELCA Division for Ministry board.

"The report was not intended to be exhaustive; it's not an encyclopedia of all that is going on within the church," he said. Boatright pointed out that a formal report cannot catalogue all the informal conversations going on across the ELCA but reflects them.

"It's a very clear indication that there is a serious conversation going on across the church," said Wagner, "that we are committed to honoring the place of homosexual people in the full life of this church."

The report shows that "in that conversation are represented all the views of the members of this church. It's not a one-sided message, but a message that there is a multi-faceted conversation going on across the church," he said.

Wagner said the report implies that conversations in the church about homosexuality "will eventually lead us to a place where our church will be able to engage these issues more freely, with less fear and, hopefully, with more light than heat."

"We intend to keep the conversation going," Boatright added. "There is great value in keeping this on the division's agenda."

ELCA resources and documents regarding human sexuality are catalogued at http://www.elca.org/DCS/sexissues.html on the ELCA Web site.

For information contact: John Brooks, Director (773) 380-2958 or TO:NEWS@ELCA.ORG