By Candice Hill Buchbinder, ELCA News
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) has developed supplemental resources for use within the Evangelical Lutheran Worship marriage service. The liturgical resources were developed based on action by the ELCA Church Council to implement recommendations from the “Ministry to and with Same-gender Couples and Their Families” working group.
The working group was established in response to the 2013 ELCA Churchwide Assembly approval of a memorial, or proposal, regarding conversations about ministering to same-gender couples and their families. The recommendation from the working group requested the Office of the Presiding Bishop take lead responsibility for identifying or preparing a small collection of supplemental liturgical resources for pastoral use.
“This is work that the church asked us to do. These are faithful and sensitive supplemental resources which can be used by all couples,” said the Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, presiding bishop of the ELCA.
In its recommendation, the working group stated that one of the supplemental resources be “appropriate for same-gender couples for use within the marriage service of Evangelical Lutheran Worship as a way to continue to live into our commitment ‘to finding ways to allow congregations that choose to do so to recognize, support and hold publicly accountable lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships.'”
“These supplemental resources have been created to offer more inclusivity in language, pastoral care, and openness for all persons who seek to be married within this church,” said the Rev. Kevin Strickland, ELCA executive for worship.
Strickland emphasized that the resources are supplemental to the marriage service included in both the Evangelical Lutheran Worship and the Evangelical Lutheran Worship Occasional Services for the Assembly.
The new resources offer materials for each section of the service, which include the gathering, word, marriage, prayer, meal and sending.
“It has been said that marriage is a gift of God, intended for the joy and strength of those who enter it and for the well-being of the whole human family,” said Strickland. “It is my hope that these supplemental resources help point us as a church, in offering this gift for the whole human family.”
Other recommendations from the working group are being implemented throughout the church, and the ELCA churchwide organization will provide updates in a report to the Church Council at its November meeting.
Published by Augsburg Fortress, the publishing house of the ELCA, the supplemental marriage resources are available at bit.ly/2bSJUpv.
The full report and recommendations offered by the working group are available at bit.ly/2bHqZKR.