Federation of Protestant Churches discusses position on homosexuality
It is not easy to find a unified position on homosexuality for the German Federation of Free Protestant Churches (Freie Evangelische Gemeinde (FeG)). The central council of the FeG discusses the topic, and the debate gets heated at some points.
The council gathered on September 23 and 24 in Solingen. The topic of homosexuality seems to be a divisive issue at the meeting. For years, the churches had an established consensus that practising homosexuality was a sin and should be dealt with as such. However, as society opens up to same-sex marriage, the debate has also been ignited in churches, PRO reports.
As the leadership of the FeG discussed the topic, some pastors got so upset that they felt like others accused them of being false teachers.
Motion in Solingen
Regional churches have been blessing same-sex marriages for a while already. Still, there are also congregations of the free churches that want to open up marriage to all. On September 10, “Coming-In” met for the first time, PRO writes. The group wants to open up free churches for same-sex couples.
However, conservative pastors also brought a motion to the table in Solingen. It called for a clear signal and demarcation from congregations that bless homosexual partnerships.
In May, the FeG leadership reaffirmed its conservative stance on homosexuality. That caused outrage among several delegates, as the statement from 2019 reads that congregations who choose a different path will have to separate from the denomination.”
However, the FeG congregations are organised so that the national leadership can give directions but is overruled by the individual church consistories, IDEA writes. Thus, the decisions of the national leadership are not binding.
Therefore, the national leadership aimed to strengthen its consensus that applies to all congregations. Its goal was to give a clear recommendation, not to exclude communities, but to stress that these communities are outside the consensus.
Not the core business
President Ansgar Hörsting says that a discussion is needed to determine how the national church leadership should proceed. To IDEA, he says that further discussion would be moderated with an open mind.
However, he also stated that about 95 per cent of the congregations still adhere to the conservative view of marriage as meant for one man and one woman. At the same time, most communities are compassionate and understanding to LGBT people, he said.
Concerning the consensus, Hörsting promised that the Bundestag could not go “too far into the communities.” He furthermore emphasised that homosexuality is not the core business of the church. “Instead, the centre of the work of local churches is the mission, church planting, diaconal work and refugee aid.”
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