The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) Division for Church in Society has heeded the unanimous recommendation of an 11-member consulting panel and decided not to release a human sexuality statement at the denomination's August 1995 biennial meeting.
A 17-member Task Force on Human Sexuality, which formed in 1989, came under fire a year ago when it released a controversial first draft. Among the proposals was an "open affirmation of gay and lesbian persons and their mutually loving, just, committed relationship of fidelity." Soon after the draft became public, the ELCA appointed the 11-member panel to ensure the biblical soundness of the task force, and Karen Bloomquist, the staff member responsible for the statement, resigned.
The second draft-which has been reworked by a three-member writing team-is to be distributed to clergy this month. The Division for Church in Society had hoped to receive comments on the second draft by next January, but voted last month to extend the response period to June 30.
"We are not convinced that the time line allows for adequate time for the church to engage in that continued process of deliberation," says Melissa Maxwell-Doherty, who now chairs the 11-member panel. The task force last met in July and has no plans to meet again.1