It was widely reported ….… before the 2011 ELCA Churchwide Assembly in Orlando that the ELCA had decided to halt development of more social statements.
To be sure, the Church Council had recommended: “To bring no social statements other than Genetics, Faith and Responsibility to any Churchwide Assembly until completion of a review of the process for addressing social concerns based on a spirit of communal discernment.”
But the Assembly modified the Council’s recommendation and voted (680-265) to complete the review process by November 2012 and bring the social statement on criminal justice to the 2013 Assembly as planned and to continue developing the social statement on justice for women. (This statement is slated to be adopted by the 2016 Assembly). Read it here.
On the one hand, Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson told the Assembly:
“Social statements are important documents for us as a church.” They “guide us as we ‘step forward as a public church’ because they form the basis for both this church’s public policy and my public speech as presiding bishop.”
On the other hand, Hanson also stated that social statements
“… inform us, but do not bind our consciences or our actions.”
Social statements do and don’t bind. Get it?
They may not bind your conscience
but in the public square they are promoted as your voice and vote.