Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Controversy leading to schism?

I knew it was a controversial resolution passed at our synod assembly but now I’m reading other blogs where people are talking about schism in the church over it.

As I reported below, the convention adopted a motion to authorize congregations to have the option of blessing same-gender couples who want to make a life-long commitment to one another. The motion passed with 197 votes (72%) for and 75 votes (28%) against. Following the convention Bishop Pryse sent out a pastoral letter (click here to read it) to be shared with the synod.

He mentioned how proud he was of the way delegates engaged one another around this issue. I agree with him. Last year, virtually the same motion was defeated at the National Convention and what I remember from that convention was the tension and stress that surrounded that gathering. This year, while there was, I think, some expectation that this issue would appear again, the mood of the entire convention was different.

I once heard someone say, and I don’t remember who it was, that if the devil is in this somewhere, it’s in the fact that this issue has overshadowed and distracted the church from so many other things that we should be engaged in and doing in our communities and in the world. That’s not necessarily to say that the issue should have been ignored but that it’s one issue among many in which the church ought to be engaged.

I also don’t think that this issues has gone away because of the result of one vote. The vote wasn’t unanimous at the convention and I don’t think opinions and feelings on this matter are unanimous in any congregation, but we continued to work and worship together in Waterloo and I believe that by the Holy Spirit’s help and guidance we’ll continue to do so in the congregation I serve as well. I pray that the world will know we are Christians by our love for one another and that even if we disagree on some small and some large issues, we can still be united by our faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Now, Bishop Schultz sent a letter to the church regarding the Eastern Synod’s resolution (I can’t find a link, I received it by email) where he says that the National Church Council will make a decision at its September 15-16 meeting on the legality of the Eastern Synod resolution based on the Constitution, Bylaws, and National/Synodical responsibilities policy of the ELCIC. I hope that the NCC will prayerfully and respectfully engage one another around this challenging issue but that it will not dominate their meeting to the detriment of the other important work they ought to be doing.

I hope that this one issue will not drive those who are opposed to the Eastern Synod’s resolution out of the church. We need one another and don’t need to be fragmenting ourselves more and more.

No comments: