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From the National
Office of the ELCIC

ELCIC National Convention Delegates Approve Social
Statement on Human Sexuality

Saskatoon, 16 July 2011–Following more
than two hours of debate, delegates of the 2011 ELCIC National Convention
approved a Social Statement on Human Sexuality. The results came late in a day
and were done by written ballot, with 213 votes in favour of the motion and 134

The document is the
result of a four-year process involving: a study guide, a church-wide feedback
process, a draft statement that allowed for further feedback opportunities, and
the statement. The statement analyzes the current social problem, provides
theological and ethical foundations, and applies insights from the first two
sections to the contemporary situation.

Convention delegates first considered the statement Thursday
evening during a Committee of the Whole session. The Human Sexuality Task Force
introduced the 14-page report and responded to questions and comments from

Delegates returned to
debate the matter in a Friday morning business session, and long lines of people
approached the plenary hall microphones to speak for and against the motion. As
on Thursday, comments covered a wide range of subjects, including the
interpretation of scripture, church tradition, theology, and human rights. Many
shared personal stories and many quoted the Bible.

“The statement is honest,” said a delegate in favour of the
statement. “The church is conflicted but the statement full of love and

Another delegate said that
the social statement acknowledged homosexual orientation as a genetic reality.
“Our loving God gave them these characteristics,” he said. “The least we could
do is love them the way God does.”

Speaking against the statement, one delegate noted, “Nowhere in
the Bible do I see anything in support of same-sex relationships.” He continued,
“One day we will stand before God and we will be judged not by the UN
Declaration of Rights or the Canadian charter, but by God’s holy laws.”

Others said the statement was not
appropriate at this time for the church. “It’s so ambiguous no one understands
it,” said a delegate. “This isn’t our solid ground that we stand on. After ten
years of debate, we still do not have a consensus. We don’t have anything but

In this midst of this
conversation, delegates considered several motions that proposed to alter the
process of the vote. Delegates approved, almost unanimously, a motion to vote by
written ballot instead of public voting by raising cards. The delegate who
proposed the motion said this more private method would help people to vote
according to their consciences.

Delegates defeated another motion that requested a two-thirds
majority to pass the motion instead of the usual majority of 50 per cent plus
one vote. They also defeated a proposed amendment to provide more material in
the statement’s footnotes.

After the
allotted hour-and-fifteen-minute session during Friday morning’s session, the
question had not yet been called. National Bishop Susan C. Johnson, chair of the
meeting, proposed that delegates return from dinner one hour early to finish the
discussion and vote. She requested that those lined up at microphones maintain
their order until the later session.

After other business and a meal, convention resumed the
discussion in a similar tone. Many people stood up to express earnest opinions
both for and against the statement.

Following an hour of debate, and with people still lined up at
the microphones, a delegate asked for the question to be called.

Delegates voted on whether to call the
question and the results were announced as 166 in favour and 162 against. As
convention moved on to consider the adoption of the social statement, a steward
announced that there had been an error with the previous count and the majority
of delegates had voted not to call the question.

After a brief time of reflection, Bishop Johnson sited
Bourinot’s Rules of Order and ruled the decision to call the question stood
since delegates had proceeded in good faith according to information from the
stewards. A motion was made to challenge the chair, but delegates upheld the
decision of the chair.

The original
vote to approve the proposed Social Statement on Human Sexuality resumed, and
after voting, delegates heard a presentation and several announcements. They
then finally stood to sing hymns together.

At around 7:30 p.m., Bishop Johnson announced the statement had
been adopted by a vote of 213 to 134, plus two spoiled ballots. Following the
announcement and prayer, Bishop Johnson acknowledged the ongoing divisions in
the church and celebrated the continued unity that the church has in Christ.

The ELCIC Social Statement on Human
Sexuality is available online at:

Over 500 Lutherans and special guests are
meeting in Saskatoon at the ELCIC’s 13th National Convention. Full agenda
details, highlights, and a live link to the proceedings are available on the
National Convention website: elcic.ca/In-Convention/2011-Saskatoon.

Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada is Canada’s largest Lutheran denomination
with 152,500 baptized members in 607 congregations. It is a member of the
Lutheran World Federation, the Canadian Council of Churches and the World
Council of Churches.

Material provided through ELCIC Information is
intended for reproduction and redistribution by recipients in whatever manner
they may find useful.

For more information, please contact:
Gallop, Director of Communications
302-393 Portage Ave. Winnipeg MB R3B

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