A much anticipated Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) Study of Human Sexuality is now available for individual and congregational use. The study, prepared by the ELCIC Human Sexuality Task Force, is intended to engage members of the church in dialogue and respectful conversation as part of a consultation process to generate feedback and inform the process of drafting a social statement. The study seeks to generate discussion on personal discipleship, local ministry contexts, and the mission of the wider church.
In March 2006, the ELCIC’s National Church Council (NCC) directed the National Bishop, "to appoint a task force to prepare a proposal for the development of a social statement on human sexuality." While the task force has had significant responsibility in preparing study documents and working towards the drafting of a statement, their primary role is to ensure wide consultation across the ELCIC. In 2008, the task force surveyed delegates at Synod conventions on the relative importance that might be placed on particular aspects of a human sexuality study.
According to ELCIC guidelines, a social statement is a theological and ethical document that provides a foundation for understanding God’s living word in the light of the changing realities of the modern world, and seeks to provide the social analysis and theological basis for the collective ELCIC understanding of a continuing crucial issue that arises out of the mission of the ELCIC. A social statement usually focuses on a broad social theme rather than a specific issue.
The Study of Human Sexuality consists of seven sessions and is designed to be used by a wide audience. Following the completion of each session, groups and individuals are invited to offer their feedback to the task force.
"Congregations, councils, and individuals are encouraged to consider opportunities and groups that could be enriched by participating in this study," says Judy Wry, chair of the Human Sexuality Task Force.
Wry notes that the sessions are provided in a study-type structure to lead an individual or group through each topic and includes a call to begin and end with prayer. Each session proposes that much time be dedicated to discussion.
The study is available online (see below for details). A printed copy of the entire study will be mailed to each congregation.
All feedback from the study will be carefully reviewed by the task force and inform the development of the first draft of a social statement. The draft social statement, when available, will be distributed widely for consultation; feedback from the draft statement will inform revisions that will lead to a proposed social statement. Following a review of the statement, it is intended that NCC will present it to the 2011 ELCIC National Convention. Delegates to the 2011 ELCIC convention must endorse the final draft before it becomes a social statement.
"I urge all members of the ELCIC to participate in this study," says National Bishop Susan C. Johnson. "The success of the process to develop a social statement depends on the input of as many members of our church as possible."
All feedback from the study must be submitted by February 28, 2010. Feedback will be collected online, and via email and post. Go online (if this does not work for you, please go onlint to the ELCIC website – www.elcic.ca – and click on the link to Resources, and then scroll down and clink on the link to Human Sexuality) for further information, the study and a link to provide feedback.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada is Canada’s largest Lutheran denomination with 162,100 baptized members in 611 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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