ELCIC delegates will vote this morning on a resolution to allow pastors to perform blessings for same-sex couples.
The resolution forwarded to the ELCIC convention by the National Church Council would provide "local options" for congregations to recognize and bless samesex committed relationships.
Authorization to perform such blessings would require the consent of the pastor and a two-thirds approval vote by a special congregational meeting.
If the resolution passes, the ELCIC's Program Committee for Worship will be asked to develop a rite for the blessing of same-sex couples in committed relationships.
The resolution follows nearly a year's study by the ELCIC national council. Scholars and theologians were asked to submit essays on the issue of allowing a local option for same-sex blessings. Private individuals and congregations also responded with comments. All are on the ELCIC's website, along with a study guide.
The practice, if approved, would be to recognize and bless same-sex relationships, not to perform actual marriages, according to the council.
The convention is debating the issue during the same week as same-sex marriage became law in Canada. However, the legislation doesn't require churches to performing marriage ceremonies for gays and lesbians.
Currently, the ELCIC has no official policy on same-sex blessings. In practice, however, the church follows a 1970 statement by the former Lutheran Church of America which defines marriage as a sacred covenant between a man and a woman.