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Most reports from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) assembly today attempt to tie together the denomination's vote to adopt a sexuality statement and the tornado strike on the Minneapolis Convention Center where the Lutherans were meeting. (No one was injured.)

"We trust that the weather is not a commentary on our work," said Steven Loy, chairman of the committee overseeing the statement. (He was quoted by The Washington Times and Associated Press.)

But WordAlone, a renewal group within the ELCA, reported that both sides sought to find commentary in the weather: "A supporter of the social statement typified the storm as a mighty wind of the Holy Spirit and as a positive message. Some WordAlone Network members heard a different message, a warning of God's anger at the ELCA in the wind."

John Piper, whose Baptist church is just down the road from the convention center, thought the storm was a message as well. "The tornado in Minneapolis was a gentle but firm warning to the ELCA and all of us: Turn from the approval of sin. Turn from the promotion of behaviors that lead to destruction."

Hours later, delegates voted on the sexuality statement, which needed 2/3 approval. It passed by exactly that margin: 676-338. One or two votes could have changed the outcome. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune notes that the vote came near dinnertime and some delegates had already started to leave. Twenty-nine of the 1,045 registered voters did not vote on the statement. (Any who opposed the sexuality statement are almost certainly kicking themselves this morning and are probably not telling their friends about it…)

The headlines are both dramatic and careful: "Lutherans move toward more open view on gays" (Associated Press), "ELCA ...

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August 2009

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