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From the National
Office of the ELCIC

Responses to Proposed ELCIC Social Statement on
Human Sexuality Mixed but Respectful

Saskatoon, 15 July 2011 — Members of the Evangelical Lutheran
Church in Canada’s (ELCIC) Human Sexuality Task Force responded to questions
Thursday night from convention delegates regarding the proposed Social Statement
on Human Sexuality. The document is the result of a four-year process involving:
a study guide, church-wide feedback process, a draft statement that allowed for
further feedback opportunities, and the proposed statement.

Task force chairperson Judy Wry presented the three-part
document, developed according to an ELCIC policy for social statements. The
statement analyzes the current social problem, provides biblical theological
foundations, and applies insights from the first two sections to the
contemporary situation.

Beginning in
2007, the task force first surveyed ELCIC synods for input, then incorporated
feedback into a study document that was widely distributed. The more than 500
responses were reviewed and the task force prepared a first draft. This again
was distributed widely and feedback was incorporated, with final theological
review by the bishops.

In her
presentation to convention delegates, Wry said the task force’s work was
informed by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s 2001 process, previous
ELCIC synod work, and a related 1970 statement of the predecessor church.

Convention then entered into a session for
Committee of the Whole whereby it departed from parliamentary procedure to allow
delegates time for questions and comments.

Responses to the proposed social statement covered a wide range
of topics, including the definition of family, the role of scripture in drafting
the document, the definition of marriage, the intent of the statement, and
issues of morality and salvation. Many delegates thanked the task force for
their work.

Some delegates
criticized the statement, arguing that its recommendations and purpose were
unclear. Others said that the statement departed from traditional Biblical
interpretation or did not adequately incorporate scripture.

“Scripture is not given enough weight here,” said one
delegate. “The authority that we have quoted is civil law or human rights. Not
enough authority is drawn from scripture.”

Other delegates urged for the proposed statement to be

“I appreciated the breadth
and how it captured the complexity of situation,” said one delegate. She praised
the task force for addressing broader issues of human exploitation and the
idolatry of sexuality in current culture.

Some delegates spoke to how the statement had already led to
change in their communities. One pastor shared a letter from a person in her
congregation who found the statement “bold, sensitive, forward-thinking and
inclusive.” After reading the proposed statement, this person asked to have her
children baptized in the church.

fielded questions and comments with support from other task force members. After
task force member Rev. Sonja Free closed the session in prayer, ELCIC National
Bishop Susan C. Johnson thanked delegates for the “respect and love” that
characterized the discussion.

Friday’s business sessions, delegates will have an opportunity to debate the
specific motions put forward by National Church Council relating to the

Members of the Human
Sexuality Task force members are Bishop Steven Kristenson, Rev. Dr. Richard
Crossman, Rev. Sonja Free, Rev. Jim Hill, Nadine Smith, Rebecca Ulrich, and Judy
Wry. Rev. Paul Gehrs provided staff support.

·        The Proposed Statement on Human Sexuality is available

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.

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