NE Iowa Synod Council Resolutions


WHEREAS, The 2009 Churchwide Assembly of the ELCA has adopted 4 Recommendations on Ministry Policies (CA09.05.23; CA09.05.24; CA09.05.26; and CA09.05.27), and

WHEREAS, CA09.05.23 states “that in the implementation of any resolutions on ministry policies, the ELCA commit itself to bear one another’s burdens, love the neighbor, and respect the bound consciences of all”, and

WHEREAS, CA09.05.27, in the 2nd “RESOLVED” states “that this church, because of its
commitment to respect the bound consciences of all, declare its intent to allow structured flexibility in decision-making regarding the approving or disapproving in candidacy and the extending or not
extending of a call to rostered service of a person who is otherwise qualified and who is living or
contemplates living in a publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationship”, and

WHEREAS, the 5th “WHEREAS” introducing CA.09.05.27 states,” other members, congregations, candidacy committees, and synods of the ELCA acknowledge those gifts and skills for ministry, but believe that this church must maintain an expectation of celibacy for any gay or lesbian person, whether or not that person is in a publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationship, and thus believe that this church cannot call or roster people in such relationships” and

WHEREAS, the use of “structured flexibility” is portrayed in the “Report and Recommendation on Ministry Policies” as presented to the Churchwide Assembly on lines 488 – 498 of the Pre-Assembly Report in the following manner:
“To choose structured flexibility does not imply that same-gender-oriented people in publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships would be able to serve everywhere in this church.  The existing discernment processes for approval and call already assume that synods, bishops, candidacy committees, rostered leaders, and congregations will make decisions in keeping with their own conscience and convictions.  If structured flexibility were added to the process, this assumption would still protect any congregation, candidacy committee, synod, or bishop from having to violate bound conscience by approving, calling, commissioning, consecrating, or ordaining anyone in a publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationship.  Similarly, a structured flexibility process would protect the decisions of a congregation, candidacy committee, synod, or bishop who concludes that mission would be served best by approving or calling a particular candidate or rostered leader who is in a publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationship.” (bold added), and

WHEREAS, it is evident from these portions of the materials adopted and presented at the 2009 Churchwide Assembly that the “all” whose “bound conscience” the actions of the assembly have committed the ELCA to honor include “synods”, and that this “bound conscience” includes the ability to choose not to approve, call, commission, consecrate, or ordain someone in a publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationship, and

WHEREAS, the “bound conscience” of the Northeastern Iowa Synod can most clearly be determined by the actions taken at synod assembly, and

WHEREAS, actions of the Northeastern Iowa Synod Assembly in 2004 (SA04.06.9), 2005 (SA05.06.38), 2007 (SA07.06.33, SA07.06.36, SA07.06.38 & SA07.06.41), and 2009 (SA09.06.15 & SA09.06.18) have declared the position of the Northeastern Iowa Synod to be that “Marriage, an institution ordained by God, is the life-long union of one man and one woman for the creation of human life and for their mutual love and care… Sexual intercourse is part of the vocation of marriage and is misused in any other context” (SA04.06.9); have opposed any changes in the church’s teaching concerning marriage and sexuality (SA04.06.9, SA09.06.15); and have opposed any changes in the ELCA’s standards for pastors and other rostered leaders as expressed in the 1990 documents “Vision and Expectations” and “Definitions and Guidelines for Discipline” (SA05.06.38, SA07.06.36, SA07.06.38, SA07.06.41 & SA09.06.18); therefore, be it

RESOLVED, that the Northeastern Iowa Synod Council, recognizing the past actions of the Northeastern Iowa Synod Assembly as evidence of the Northeastern Iowa Synod’s strongly-held views with respect to the approving, calling, commissioning, consecrating, or ordaining of one in a publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationship, determines that the standards for rostered ministry as outlined in the 1990 documents, “Vision and Expectations” and “Definitions and Guidelines for Discipline” shall remain in effect for the Northeastern Iowa Synod, and be it further

RESOLVED, that the Northeastern Iowa Synod Council encourage the Northeastern Iowa Synod Candidacy Committee and the Office of Bishop of the Northeastern Iowa Synod to continue to abide by such standards for rostered ministry in the Northeastern Iowa Synod during the period leading up to the 2010 Synod Assembly, and be it further

RESOLVED, that the Northeastern Iowa Synod Council recommends the following Continuing Resolution to the 2010 Synod Assembly of the Northeastern Iowa Synod:

S14.02 A10 In addition to the standards for ordained ministers in the current “Vision and Expectations” as adopted by the ELCA Church Council, this synod shall continue to maintain this expectation from “Vision & Expectations” (1990) in its candidacy process and in its standards for pastors and other rostered leaders:

Ordained ministers, whether married or single, are expected to uphold an understanding of marriage in their public ministry as well as in private life that is biblically informed and consistent with the teachings of this synod. The expectations of this synod regarding the sexual conduct of its ordained ministers are grounded in the understanding that human sexuality is a gift from God and that ordained ministers are to live in such a way as to honor this gift. Ordained ministers are expected to reject sexual promiscuity, the manipulation of others for purposes of sexual gratification, and all attempts of sexual seduction and sexual harassment, including taking physical or emotional advantage of others. Single ordained ministers are expected to live a chaste life. Married ordained ministers are expected to live in fidelity to their spouses, giving expression to sexual intimacy within a marriage relationship that is mutual, chaste, and faithful. Ordained ministers who are homosexual in their self-understanding are expected to abstain from homosexual sexual relationships.



WHEREAS, the 2009 Churchwide Assembly of the ELCA has adopted the social statement, “Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust”, and

WHEREAS, in Part IV (lines 620 – 628 in the Pre-Assembly Report) this statement reads:
The historic Christian tradition and the Lutheran Confessions have recognized marriage as a covenant between a man and a woman, reflecting Mark 10: 6–9: “But from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one put asunder.” (Jesus here recalls Genesis 1:27; 2:23–24.), and

WHEREAS, in Part IV (lines 740 – 744, as amended, of the Pre-Assembly Report) it reads:
Recognizing that this conclusion differs from the historic Christian tradition and the Lutheran Confessions, some people, though not all, in this church and within the larger Christian community, conclude that marriage is also the appropriate term to use in describing similar benefits, protection, and support for same-gender couples entering into lifelong monogamous relationships, and

WHEREAS, the statement then goes on to treat these two positions and the variants within them as of equal validity, on the basis of the “conscience-bound beliefs” of those who hold them (Part IV, lines 809 – 868 of the Pre-Assembly Report), and

WHEREAS, on this same basis of the “conscience-bound lack of consensus in this church” (lines 452 – 453 of the Report and Recommendation on Ministry Policies in Part V of the Pre-Assembly Report) the resolutions on ministry policies (SA09.05.23 – 24 – 26 & 27) were adopted, and

WHEREAS, neither the Social Statement nor the Recommendation on Ministry Policies present an argument based on Scripture, the Lutheran Confessions and with the aid of sound reason either to reject what is admitted to be the position of the historic Christian tradition and the Lutheran Confessions based on Scripture or to accept a position which is admitted to be contrary to the historic Christian tradition and the Lutheran Confessions, and

WHEREAS, the Confession of Faith of the ELCA (Chapter 2 of the ELCA Constitution) commits the ELCA to accept the canonical Scriptures as the authoritative source and norm of our proclamation, faith and life, and to accept the confessional writings of the Lutheran Church as a true witness of the Gospel and valid interpretations of the faith of the Church, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, that the Northeastern Iowa Synod Council, repudiate the decisions of the 2009 Churchwide Assembly in adopting the social statement “Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust” and the 4 Resolutions on Ministry Policies (CA09.05.23 – 24 – 26 & 27) as violations of the Confession of Faith, Chapter 2 of the ELCA Constitution, and be it further

RESOLVED, that the Northeastern Iowa Synod Council memorialize the ELCA Church Council to repudiate these actions as violations of the Confession of Faith, Chapter 2 of the ELCA Constitution, refuse to implement these actions, and begin the process to overturn these decisions at the 2011 Churchwide Assembly


22 Responses to “NE Iowa Synod Council Resolutions”

  1. Synod Council Acts « Lutherans Persisting Says:

    […] In the meantime, the Northeast Iowa Synod Council adopted the resolutions posted to the right (here) declaring their intent to exercise their bound conscience and directing the synod not to abide by […]

  2. Phil Gardner Says:

    This was Luther’s test at Worms:

    Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures or by clear reason (for I do not trust either in the pope or in councils alone, since it is well known that they have often erred and contradicted themselves), I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted and my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not recant anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience. May God help me.

    The actions of the Churchwide assembly fail on both counts…Scripture and clear reason.

  3. Claude Villemaire Says:

    It’s about time somebody did this! Maybe others will be encouraged to follow Northeastern Iowa Synod Councils actions!

  4. Joe Sarnowski Says:

    God bless the leaders and congregants of the NE Iowa Synod. It is not easy to do the right thing. This shows that even though the majority of the voters at the CWA were willing to drag the ELCA towards heresy that there are those who are willing to stand up and say no. I wish that the leaders in my (former) ELCA church home had such courage.

  5. Shirley Teske Says:

    Hallelujah! Praise the Lord! Thank you for standing up for the Word of God.

  6. Gregory Davidson Says:

    The response of the NE-IA Synod is both timely and right, and it establishes a foundation for all others to build on. With the recent changes in state law, the pastors of that synod lost all recourse to conscience once the CWA voted in August 2009. I am especially thankful for the detailed presentation of NE-IA’s consistent witness in favor of biblical relationships.

  7. Justin Kollmeyer Says:

    WOW! WHO ARE these people? (The NE Iowa Synod Council) And when can we vote them into SAINTHOOD?! Way to go, you guys! Keep up the GOOD WORK!!

  8. Karen Nelson Says:

    Thank you to the NE Iowa Synod Council.

  9. Jim & Sylvia Pridal Says:

    We thank God for the witness of the NE Iowa Synod in putting forth this resolution. We pray that it will accomplish the task of overturning the recent action of the CWA in regard to the “Statement on Human Sexuality” and the accompaning resolutions. Then we can return to the ELCA.

  10. Jack Wilder Says:

    About time.

  11. Jack Wilder Says:

    Actually, I echo the sentiments of the previous posters. I’m just too down with the flu to be up beat; so if I sounded cynical or whatever in my last post it was not intentional. Maybe other synods will follow suit. I do wonder what course things will take should the next CWA ignore (or defeat) NE Iowa’s (and maybe other synods’) memorials.

  12. Rev. Tim Johnson Says:

    I wonder if leadership from other synods who similarly voted against the CWA sexuality resolutions have even thought about resolutions (objecting new ELCA policies) to bring to the table at their Synod Assembly in 2010? This brings me to the comment, “how serious is this issue for bishops and pastors, and leadership on synod councils?” and, “How can we influence our leadership to write similar resolutions?”

  13. Vicki Says:

    I need clarification on this. Our synod, the SE PA, is extremely liberal and would never do this, so how can we use this on a congregational basis, or how is a synod council different from a synod? Can someone break it down?

    • Marshall hahn Says:

      Dear Vicki,
      The synod council is like a congregational council. It guides the work of the synod and carries out the decisions of the synod assembly, which is like the congregational annual meeting. In a synod which is “extremely liberal”, your options are more limited. You can propose to your congregation that you adopt a similar policy as a congregation, putting similar language into the congregation’s documents. In the synod, one option is to connect with other congregations and pastors and laypeople from other congregations who wish to take similar action, consider joining a CORE group in your area or start a CORE group of your own. These are just some thoughts I have. But I am in a much different place than you describe, so I do not know what would be best for you.

      I hope that these actions have been encouraging to those in similar circumstances, as I have read here, but I would be interested to hear how the actions our synod council has taken can be of help, if any, to those in synods which are in more difficult circustances.

      Marshall Hahn

  14. Larry Lake Says:

    The decision by the ELCA is more dangerous than most of us realize. There is a clear path that can eventually lead the ELCA to “cult” status.It may take a few decades but if left unchallenged, we will not recognize the ELCA as the same church our parents generation knew.

  15. Larry Lake Says:

    My previous comments were based on studies of different cults by one of the world’s foremost experts, Dr. Walter Martin, who wrote the consumate “Kingdom of the Cults” book used as the authoratative study guide in just about every classroom.

  16. Rachel Says:

    NE Iowa Synod is my home synod, and I am an ordained pastor who was approved by the NE Iowa Synod’s candidacy committee. I am deeply and profoundly disappointed in the synod council’s decision, and will pray for the council and those who are posting here. The decision made by the ELCA this summer is perhaps as profound and controversial a decision as leaders in the early Church to extend welcome to the Gentiles. I believe that time and God will judge this decision to be the correct one for this time just as that decision long ago, as shattering and controversial as it was, was the correct decision. The Biblical witness says absolutely nothing about committed monogamous same gender relationships, and the people who wrote scripture had no notion of sexuality as an orientation. The scriptures which those who posted above claim to be so clear are about rape, gentile temple prostitution, and other sexual practices that have nothing in common with two people loving and pledging life-long commitment to each other. To say that Biblical witness is clear is like saying the Bible is absolutely clear on evolution, something that no one in Biblical times had even heard of of contemplated. In such cases, we must rely of reason, experience, and science as well as faith. Many sisters and brothers in Christ who are pastors and who happen to be gay are some of the most talented, gifted church leaders I know, and it is not good for such people to have to face the trials of ministry without the support of a partner or hiding in a closet.

  17. Linda Says:

    I cannot conceive comparing the welcoming of Gentiles to the sin of homosexuality. No one having the opposite view from Pastor Rachel believes we should be unwelcoming to homosexuals. And to say that people who wrote scripture had no notion of sexuality as an orientation is also just more of the same mantra that some “educated” people of today think they are much more “enlightened” than those who wrote God’s “inspired” Word.

    PS I think I will post that to comment to this Pastor – I’m just getting angry!

  18. Marshall hahn Says:

    Pastor Rachel,
    Thank you for your comments. As you may be aware we have discussed all of these issues in our synod (and throughout the church) for a number of years. In six successive synod assemblies the arguments you presented did not carry the day. Rather, the NE Iowa synod at assembly affirmed again and again the orthodox, traditional view of human sexuality as appropriate only within the covenant relationship of marriage between a man and a woman. These decisions by the synod assembly are the bases for these resolutions, particularly the first one.
    I believe it is quite telling that the Task Force’s Social Statement did not attempt to make the case that you believe is so clear. Rather, the conclusion made in the Social Statement is that there is no definitive conclusion about these matters. I disagree strongly with that conclusion, but it is upon that lack of a conclusive teaching that the synod council proposes to maintain the current standards on ministry policy. If our synod is not permitted to do so, it will put the lie to the notion of respecting the “bound conscience” of others within the ELCA over this matter.

    Marshall Hahn

  19. David Says:

    Pastor Rachel,

    How can you say that “the people who wrote scripture had no notion of sexuality as an orientation”? The scriptures are the inspired words of God. Are you saying God has no notion of sexuality as an orientation or you just saying the Bible is the work of uninspired people? You can’t have it both ways. We must love ALL sinners. We MUST NOT condone any sin!

  20. The ELCA Conundrum « Lutherans Persisting Says:

    […] quotes ELCA Secretary David Swartling expressing concern that the resolutions of the NE Iowa Synod (here), which embody that freedom to vote one’s convictions, seem incompatible with the ministry […]

  21. Jason Koenig Says:

    I appreciate the Synod’s move but I am left wondering why not just break ties or abandon the ELCA? Is it out of the hope that perhaps you can change the ELCA from the inside out? I belong to an ELCA church in Illinois and I find it very hard to find any reason at all to stay affiliated with them. Whether we publically disagree with the ELCA or not we are still supporting a group with our benevolence funds that has a very distorted view of Scripture. I think we would be better served to find a group that puts their faith in the Word of God and believes the Bible with all of their being.

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