SASKATOON, July 20, 2011 ( – The National Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) gave an emotional homily Sunday concluding the July 14-17 ELCIC National Convention which approved both performance of same-sex ‘marriages’ in Lutheran churches and ordination of practicing homosexual clergy. “We have made some very difficult and gut-wrenching choices for the future of our church and its ministry,” said Bishop Susan C. Johnson, as she struggled to hold back tears. “Some of us will be leaving this convention elated, and some will, and have already, left despondent.”

The vote to permit conducting and blessing homosexual ‘marriages’ passed by a vote of 192 to 132.  The vote to permit practicing homosexuals to be ordained as clergy passed 205 to 114.

While the ELCIC is the largest Lutheran body in Canada, the measure has split the group and been condemned by another Lutheran group in the nation. Leaders of Lutheran Church-Canada (LCC) issued a statement noting that the ELCIC is the only Lutheran church body in Canada “that has approved such a departure from accepted Christian teaching.”

Noting the words of Jesus who spoke of marriage in terms of a man leaving his father and mother, being united to his wife, and the two becoming one flesh, LCC’s presidents (bishops) declared the church body’s continuing witness to “Christ’s clear teaching that God designed marriage as the lifelong union of one man and one woman.” They further stated that LCC will not ordain pastors who do not support this position.

At its 2002 convention Lutheran Church-Canada affirmed the historic biblical definition of marriage. At its most recent convention in June 2011, delegates agreed that the Bible’s qualifications and standards for a pastor include a heterosexual orientation.

The statement also rejects any notion that holding to “historic Christian teaching on marriage and sexuality constitutes ‘homophobia,’ an irrational fear and hatred of people with same-gender orientation.” LCC’s leaders refuse to defend those who take a threatening or insulting approach to the issue, but instead “repent of such sin and ask God to help His people overcome it wherever it occurs.”

After noting that there are Lutheran Christians in Canada “still deeply committed to the Bible as the authoritative Word of God and still dedicated to its clear witness on human sexuality, marriage and standards for ministry,” the leaders pledge prayers for those within the ELCIC for whom their church body’s decision is troubling.