.- The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is the latest Christian denomination to enter the debate over whether or not to allow openly homosexual clergy. Church leaders will gather in Orlando, Florida next week for their General Assembly where they will decide whether to allow exceptions for the ordination of certain actively-homosexual clergy, discuss a new policy for the pastoral care of homosexuals, and vote on a recommendation for unity in the church despite different biblical interpretations regarding homosexuality.
Dr. Roy Harrisville however, head of the group, Solid Rock Lutherans, is skeptical.
He thinks that the new exceptions to previous church policy and Bible teaching is “a recipe for disunity, not for unity…[I]f the church is seeking to find some ground on which to stand with unity, that's not going to be it."
Dr. Harrisville thinks that the church’s attention should be focused less on the approval of gay clergy and more on things like its "Renewing Worship" program, which includes new hymnals, worship styles, prayers, and services.
"As the church prays, so it believes. And the way we worship, of course, always determines the character of the church," he says. "Unfortunately, however, we have talked very little about this new hymnal and these new services."
The ELCA joins the debate which surrounds many mainstream protestant denominations regarding the ordination of openly gay clergy. The most prominent is the Episcopal church, which ordained its first openly gay bishop, Gene Robinson in 2003 and is still reeling from criticism and continued internal strife.