Over the weekend, four more ELCA synods passed the memorial directing the development of policy amendments leading to the elimination of policies precluding rostered service for candidates in committed same-gender relationships. These four synods are Oregon, Metro New York, Rocky Mountain, and Southwest Washington. This brings the running total to eight synods, with assemblies yet to come in most metropolitan areas. Oregon and Rocky Mountain also passed memorials to refrain from the use of discipline against clergy in same-gender partnerships and for the use of restraint if discipline is to be applied.
Our memorials were defeated in both the Southwestern Texas and Northwestern Ohio Synods. In addition, the Northwestern Ohio Synod called to delay any action until 2009, when the Churchwide Assembly is supposed to consider a social statement on sexuality. However, this call for delay was in the form of a synodical resolution, which will not be considered at the Churchwide Assembly.
There has been some confusion about whether a synod can pass more than one memorial relating to the rostered ministry of persons in a committed same-gender partnership. Two synods (Oregon and Rocky Mountain) have already passed all three goodsoil memorials, and in both of these synods neither the Reference and Counsel Committee nor the parliamentarian ruled that it would be out of order to consider or pass all three. Indeed, in Oregon Synod, the parliamentarian advised that all three memorials should be considered by the synod assembly, rather than combining two of them. When a synod assembly passes a memorial, the only legislative and parliamentary effect is to submit it as one possibility for consideration at the Churchwide Assembly. Passage by a synod assembly does NOT put a memorial into effect as policy, so there is nothing preventing a synod assembly from passing more than one memorial on the same topic – it's the equivalent of a committee reporting multiple positions based on the differing views of its members. The Churchwide Assembly itself will make the decision of which option to adopt as policy for the whole church.
Members and regional coordinators from Lutherans Concerned, along with allies from RIC congregations and our goodsoil coalition partners, are to be congratulated for a very impressive showing. Even in defeat, relationship-building and positive witness insure the ultimate outcome and hasten the day for full inclusion.
No synods will meet over Memorial Day, so our legislative team will get a much needed rest. The following weekend, May 31–June 3, many synods will convene. Thank you for your faithful and prayerful support. Your continued prayers are requested.
Summary of synod assembly results, through May 22, 2007
MEMORIAL 1 (directing amendments to V&E, D&G, and reinstatement policy – PASSED BY EIGHT SYNODS: Sierra Pacific; South/Central Wisconsin; Southeastern Pennsylvania; Northeastern Minnesota; Rocky Mountain; Metro New York; Southwestern Washington; and Oregon.
MEMORIAL 1 – DEFEATED BY FOUR SYNODS: Eastern Washington-Idaho; Northern Texas-Northern Louisiana; Northwestern Ohio; Southwestern Texas.
MEMORIAL 2 (encouraging refraining) – PASSED BY TWO SYNODS: Rocky Mountain and Oregon.
MEMORIAL 2 – DEFEATED BY FOUR SYNODS: Southeastern Pennsylvania; Northern Texas-Northern Louisiana (combined with Mem. 3); Metro New York; Southwestern Texas.
MEMORIAL 3 (endorsing restraint) – PASSED BY THREE SYNODS: Southeastern Michigan (variant form); Rocky Mountain; and Oregon.
MEMORIAL 3 – DEFEATED BY SIX SYNODS: Southeastern Pennsylvania; Eastern Washington-Idaho; Northern Texas-Northern Louisiana (combined with Mem. 2); Florida-Bahamas; Metro New York (postponed indefinitely); Southwestern Texas.
MEMORIAL TO DELAY ACTION UNTIL 2009 – PASSED BY TWO SYNODS: Northern Texas-Northern Louisiana and Eastern North Dakota; (Northwestern Ohio passed "delay" only as a synodical resolution, not a memorial to the Churchwide Assembly).
MEMORIAL AGAINST BLESSING SAME-GENDER UNIONS – PASSED BY ONE SYNOD: Eastern North Dakota; (Southwestern Minnesota and Northwestern Ohio passed synodical resolutions against blessing unions, but not memorials to the Churchwide Assembly).
DID NOT CONSIDER MEMORIALS TO CHURCHWIDE ASSEMBLY – SIX SYNODS: Arkansas-Oklahoma; Western Iowa; Southwestern Minnesota; Pacifica; Northern Great Lakes; North/West Lower Michigan.
A full one-third of all assemblies will occur in the weekend of May 31–June 4. Almost another one-third will occur the next week end, June 7–9.