At the 2004 Eastern Synod Assembly, the following motion was passed:
That the Eastern Synod petition the National Church Council to initiate a study of the theological, ecclesiological, and pastoral implications of authorizing a parish-based local option to perform same-sex blessings and bring appropriate recommendations to the 2005 National Convention.
The Eastern Synod is not alone in taking up questions related to the welcoming of gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgendered (GBLT) Christians and of considering their place in the church. A recent (May 2004) issue of the Synod of Alberta and the Territories Forum was concerned with related matters and conversation was lively at all of the 2004 synod conventions. Moreover, National Church Council has been exploring this and related matters for some time.
At their September 2004 meeting, National Church Council sought to address the Eastern Synod's motion with care and sensitivity. Our church is not of a single mind around these matters. At the meeting, Bishop Schultz proposed a way forward which honours the many voices we have heard in the land and which takes into consideration recent actions of the Conference of Bishops (July 2003) and National Church Council (October 2003).
At its September 2004 meeting, National Church Council approved a project wherein scholars from across the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada were invited to write short essays on various aspects of the issues as might be understood or implied in the Eastern Synod motion. The idea was that these essays would inform the work of National Church Council; would assist the Conference of Bishops in their deliberations; would serve as background material for national convention delegates; and would form the basis for conference and/or congregational study this coming winter and spring (2004/2005).
All the essays and the accompanying study guide are now completed, edited and formatted, and posted to the web. In this way, members of the ELCIC will have access to the very best in scholarship and pastoral wisdom in twenty papers offered by twenty-two ELCIC scholars.
The essays are distributed over four categories:
It might be noted that some of the papers could have reasonably been placed in more than one category. The distribution is simply intended to be helpful for purposes of organization and study.
Bishop Raymond Schultz and members of National Church Council are grateful to all of the scholars who have lent of their time and expertise to this endeavour. Thank you.