BETHLEHEM, PENNSYLVANIA (June 22, 2014) – The 2014 Synod of the Moravian Church, Northern Province has approved a proposal to allow the ordination of gay and lesbian individuals, whether single, married or in covenanted relationships.
By a vote of 181-62, synod delegates approved the proposal, which also includes provisions to revise the Book of Order of the Moravian Church Northern Province to reflect this change, and a call to create a rite for solemnizing covenanted relationships for use in the Northern Province.
The Synod is the highest judicatory of the Moravian Church Northern Province.
As delegates waited to learn the outcome of the vote, they sang hymns and spontaneously stood hand in hand in a circle around the assembly hall. They continued singing in harmony after the results were announced.
“Moravians understand that God’s call to us is to welcome all people, because God’s embrace is far larger than our capacity to imagine,” said the Rev. Dr. Elizabeth D. Miller, president of the Provincial Elders’ Conference of the Moravian Church Northern Province. “The 2014 Synod responded to God’s leading to receive the gifts of gay and lesbian individuals who wish to serve as ordained servants in the Moravian Church Northern Province.”
“This decision came following much prayer and consideration and many differing opinions were expressed during debate,” said Miller. “We know that there are Moravians who deeply love God, who honor the authority of Scripture and love the Moravian Church who do not agree with this resolution. It is my prayer that as Moravians, in relationship with one another, we can continue to walk together in love, even as we acknowledge our differences.”
This decision affects only those in the Northern Province and has no direct impact on the other provinces in the worldwide Moravian Unity. The decision also came with a clear direction that no congregation will be forced to call a gay or lesbian pastor, as that decision lies with the congregations’ Boards of Elders and Trustees.
“This resolution is one more step in a long series of Northern Province Synod resolutions regarding the church’s view of homosexual persons in our culture and our church,” said Miller. The Moravian Church Northern Province has been in conversation about the life and service of lesbian and gay people for more than 40 years. As early as 1974, the Synod of the Northern Province declared that homosexual persons are under God’s care. At four Synods since then, delegates have addressed the topic of homosexuality.
The Synod of 2010 mandated that the Northern Province Provincial Elders’ Conference sponsor congregational forums for collaborative dialogue and prayerful discernment of the Christian service of homosexual individuals, and to bring legislation on the topic for consideration by the 2014 Synod.
All proposals received prior to synod were considered by the Church and Society Committee. The resulting proposal was reviewed and revised in that committee at the 2014 Synod and brought to the Synod floor for discussion and decision only after considerable deliberation.
During an earlier session of the 2014 Synod, delegates approved a resolution that affirmed the Northern Province’s commitment to be inclusive of differing views regarding the ordination and call of gay and lesbian clergy in covenanted relationships and that clergy and members are free to express their perspectives. Additionally, Synod encouraged the Provincial Elders’ Conference to offer follow-up gatherings for congregations following the conclusion of the 2014 Provincial Synod.
For more on the 2014 Synod of the Moravian Church Northern Province, click here.