The ELCA released a document called "Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust" last month. This is the result of eight long years of "study" and conversation and general unease, ostensibly around "human sexuality," but really around "gay human sexuality." We're not actually studying straight humans, because we're already marrying and ordaining them. We studied them a long time ago, apparently, and didn't find them objectionable.
You can download the document here: http://www.elca.org/What-We-Believe/Social-Issues/Social-Statements-in-Process/JTF-Human-Sexuality.aspx I will warn you now that it is long. But...as a special bonus for those who order today...you'll also receive the "Report and Recommendation on Ministry Policy." That's the somewhat shorter document that proposes that we sort of adopt a policy for some synods and congregations--only the ones who want to--to call a gay or lesbian pastor, if they are so inclined.
I am really glad that we're making progress. I really am. We would be one of the only Christian denominations in the country with openly gay and lesbian pastors (accent on "openly"--we've all got gay pastors) if the recommendation is adopted. We already know that there are synods and congregations which will follow the procedure and open their call processes to gay and lesbian candidates. Probably not the synod in which I reside...
...and that's a bit of a rub. Not the part that makes this about me, exactly, but the part that makes this about all of the qualified candidates who still won't be considered, because the ELCA would make considering gay and lesbian candidates totally voluntary. A bishop whom I like and respect very much said this today in a press release: "No congregation or institution will be forced to call a leader they do not wish to call."
It is true generally in our denomination that a congregation can never be "forced" to call a minister they don't wish to call. Our pastors are called, not appointed, as in some other denominations. But it is also true that we don't allow congregations to close their call process to candidates on the basis of other considerations, like race or gender. So the Sexuality Task Force recommendations allow for a separate-but-equal sort of system, in which the vast majority of congregations will likely still choose not to consider gay or lesbian candidates.
So I'm a little grumbly about the whole thing, and would really like to know what some of you gentle readers think.
So what do you think?