Skip to comments.ELCA Assembly Thursday morning: apologies and offenses
Posted on 08/20/2009 11:11:44 AM PDT by lightman
The Assembly began with breakfast and table talk, small group discussion around tables, and then they convened in plenary
As the public session began, two speakers expressed great concern that following the adoption of the social statement yesterday, there was loud applause and cheers. It was noted that our rules declare this kind of response to be out of order, and the PB did nothing to call the assembly to order. The cheers were hurtful to those whose bound conscience were sorely wounded. The PB agreed, and apologized for his mistake.
Kirsten --- (didnt get her name or synod) urged support for the ministry changes, saying she is excited at the opportunity to witness for Jesus. Pr. Ryan Mills, NTx/LA. I live and serve within the Episcopal diocese of Ft. Worth, and Ive seen this train wreck before. The fall out in that diocese of the Episcopal churchs ministry decisions has been terrible, and I do not want us to see this in our church. We must not separate ourselves from the church catholic. Pastoral practice needs latitude, but the truth must not be compromised. Pr. Paul Tideman, St. Paul Synod. I hear the voices of those who were hurt yesterday, and I pray for them. I had twin brothers, both gay; one drank himself to death at 31, I think because he could not believe that God loved him. Supporting the rostering of gay and lesbian persons will be a sign, role models in the church who are like them.
John Prabhakar, N. IL. The ELCA encouraged me to read the Bible through the Book of Faith initiative. I did that. I have come to a different conclusion than the task force. I understand the pain and anguish of those in same sex relationships; I wish I could support their rostering, but I cannot in good conscience. Pr. Jay McDivitt, Rocky Mtn. Ten years ago I spoke to the CWA on behalf of the Lutheran Youth Organization, urging them to change our ministry policies. Four years ago I was one of those recalcitrant people who stood in front of the assembly in Orlando. Im aware that if we pass these, many among us will be devastated. They will wrestle with the same question we have wrestled with for 20 years: should I go or should I stay? Please stay. We need each other.
Pr. Terri Stagner-Collier, SE Synod. Many compare this issue to ordination of women or of divorced people. As a divorced woman pastor, I do not believe these are comparable. As to women, there are many passages that speak positively about the leadership roles of women; there are no such passages relative to homosexuality. As to divorce, I am humbly forgiven of my sin. In no way have I tried to define my sin as a good. I agree the passages speaking against homosexuality can be interpreted in a way that sees them as irrelevant to contemporary issues; but the clear witness of Scripture is that God made man and woman for each other.
Bp. Craig Johnson, Minneapolis. Our synod became a Reconciling Synod in the 1990s, and weve consistently voted for change. But what compels me to vote for change is Holy Scripture. Jesus broke down walls of class and status. The walls of prejudice, of bigotry, came tumbling down. We have a wall today between the baptized; will we break it down? Roy Gibbs, NW OH; it was obvious in our table discussion that we have a Spirit problem. Is the Holy Spirit calling us to affirm the life choices of our gay/lesbian brothers and sisters. But if the Holy Spirit is speaking to us, why is the Holy Spirit not speaking to our brothers and sisters in the Roman Catholic, United Methodist, Orthodox, Presbyterian churches? Are they deaf to the Spirit, and we can hear what no one else can hear? We believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, and the vast majority of Christians worldwide would not consider what we are being asked to do today.
PB then called on members of the resource panel to respond to some written questions that arose from the table conversation.
Q: What will happen to congregations whose bound conscience will not permit them to accept GLBT clergy? A: (Timothy Wengert) It is the responsibility of leadership to respect their conscience; it is incumbent upon those congregations to be clear about what their conscience requires. Generally the answer is they will have freedom to do what their conscience requires. (Stanley Olson) If these are adopted, policies will have to be developed with attention to differences of opinion and respect of the bound conscience. No one will be required to act contrary to their consciences.
Pr. Earl Janssen, DE-MD synod. On internship I had an experience that has shaped my ministry. I was visiting a man whose wife was dying; he was reliving his life, including some regrets. He believed that he had killed innocent people in WWII. Same week I visited a woman, German, who had seen her sister die in the bombing of Berlin. I asked her how she could be in the same church with a man who might have been the one who killed her sister. In Christ he is my brother, she replied. This really is no different. Pr. Janice Campbell, SW Tex. I do not want you to be misled. This is not about judging others. The church has no right to do that. But it does have the right to criticize certain actions that diminish and impoverish life. Mothers have been doing this for year, as have teachers. When a mother disciplines her child, it does not mean she does not love the child, but that she does.
Allison Guttu, Metro NY. Urge you to vote in favor. Many point to Anglican communion as a model for what is happening. But communion means something different to Anglicans than to Lutherans. Lutheran communion is defined solely by Word and Sacrament, not by relationship to another church. Jim Borowick, Minneapolis. Id like to read a message from the pastor of the Oromo congregation here in Minneapolis. (Read message: Missionaries taught us the Bible is the Word of God. Today their descendants are telling us the Bible is not to be read faithfully, but to be changed. Am I to accept church has a new revelation from God? That God is imperfect, he has gained new insight? Who is setting moral standards for the church? The ELCA wants to bring its witness to people of color. You say you want ethnic diversity, but you pay no attention to us. We have been praying that these recommendations fail.)
Resource mic: David Balch, PLTS. Im an example of the mission of the ELCA. I was not born in the Lutheran church. I became a Lutheran because I was taught that neither Paul nor Luther have a fundamentalist understanding of Scripture. There is a distinction between the gospel and Scripture. My mother was raised with this fundamentalist approach, and her whole life she never spoke in church. I would say she was imprisoned by her approach.
Pr. Michael Toomey, Eastern ND. We want to be an evangelical church, taking this dying denomination and let it become an evangelical outreach, taking the gospel to the poorest of the poor (victims of malaria, AIDS). To get that vision we need focus and momentum. The ministry recommendations take us away from that focus. They do not lead us in the direction we want to go. Pr. Mark Lepper, Minneapolis. What is happening reminds me of an animated movie where two sisters go to the pound to pick out a dog, and they come home with this crazy little alien. One sister wants to take him back, the other says, No, he belongs to us now. Right now in the ELCA we are leaving people behind, saying You are not what we were expecting, we dont want you. We need to say family means no one gets left behind.
Q: What messages has the ELCA received from ecumenical partners? A: (McCoid) Yesterday I shared with you in general where our ecumenical partnering are. Concerning rostering, the UCC has a long-time practice of doing this. Episcopal Church as well. Moravian, Presbyterian, Reformed, UMC, Roman Catholic, Orthodox, do not. If we make changes, there will be differences in our relationships with some of our partners. (Padilla) We have received messages from Hong Kong, Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Tanzania asking us not to take such actions. Also from the Silesian church, and the churches in the Baltics. (Rossing) Important to put this in context. LWF is in the midst of a five year process called marriage, family, human sexuality. Churches of LWF are not of one mind. Scandinavian and German churches have already taken steps to move further than the ELCA contemplates moving. We dont follow other churches on other matters; e.g., some of our partner churches do not ordain women or divorced men.
Gary Diers, Minneapolis. I hear continually that these changes should not be church-dividing. (Told a folksy anecdote that need not be repeated here.) Miguel Hernandez, Rocky Mtn. God has led me on a journey to open my eyes to see that Christ can live in the lives of gay people. Mary Howe, N. IL. How can ELCA compare a few years of study with over 2000 years of Christian tradition? The cross is not a rabbits food to be rubbed like a warm fuzzy. God gave us guidelines to live by. The purpose of the law is prepare us and point us to the gospel.
After the time for committee of the whole was extended for 15 minutes, speaking continued. Jan Ruud SW Wash. What inspires me about these proposals is the impact I believe it will have on the mission of the church. There are many programs in my congregation that strongly depend on gay and lesbian people in committed relationships. They are serving and strengthening our ministry. There are others in the congregation who would have voted against these proposals, and yet in their graciousness they find ways to work together with gays and lesbians in our congregations. Pr. Joel Benson, SW PA. I did not plan to go to the table conversation this morning, but I went, and Im glad. The Biblical story often told this week is the woman to whom Jesus says Neither to I condemn you, but we dont seem to go on to the rest, Go and sin no more. We dont have to guess what our global partners are going to say; Archbishop of Canterbury has told Episcopal Church they will be second class citizens in the Anglican Communion. We have become idolatrous, so focused on this one issue.
Meredith Hendricks, Southeastern. I found the Lutheran church more than 30 years ago and it immediately became my home. A few years ago I found myself in a situation where I was not being fed spiritually in my church. One Good Friday my husband and I found ourselves in a church in downtown Atlanta; after the service, we had tears. We moved our membership to this church. Pastor was Bradley Schmeling . . . full of the spirit. How can you deny what is going on at St. Johns? David Olsen, St. Paul: LWF is dedicated to Lutheran unity, but that is about to be dissolved. Ten years ago this assembly went into a full communion agreement with the Episcopal Church. A unity attempt, but it has caused disunity within both the ELCA and the Episcopal Church. For the sake of Lutheran unity, we must vote against these resolutions.
Resource panel: Q What does it mean to have a publicly accountable relationship? We would anticipate the highest level of civil recognition available, whether that be marriage, civil unions, etc. (Phil Harris, general counsel) Churches occupy unique position. Churches enjoy religious liberty, and that extends to relationship between church and pastors. Uniformly courts have protected the rights of churches to set standards. Q What happens to ELCA message on Sexuality, Some Common Convictions (Rebecca Larson) According to our procedures, social statements are the foundational social teachings of the church. The social statement would take precedence of the earlier message from the church council. Would also take precedence over the 2005 conference of bishops statement.
Larry Struve, Sierra Pacific. There are a number of people here who are in the middle. As we look at the resolutions, we would like clarification on resolution 3, which we see as key. It is only if number 3 is in place that some of us would be willing to vote on 1 and 2. PB: They are before you in the order they appear, but the body has the right to decide how to consider them. Thus ended the committee of the whole.
There was a good bit of anger among some on the traditionalist side that the resource people were given a pretty good block of time during this supposed open discussion of the ministry recommendations. The resource people, largely from the task force and the churchwide staff, were perceived (rightly, in my view) as being advocates for the proposed changes, and were generally not held to their time limit by the PB. Barbara Rossings comments, for instance, was essentially a rebuttal to the answer given to the questions about the reactions of our ecumenical and global partners.
VP Pena was given the chair, where he began the process for balloting for Church Council and other churchwide units. Ballots were distributed, with instructions to fill them out over the lunch break and deposit them by the deadline into the ballot boxes.
A layman understands the truth that eludes the modern scribes of the Pharisees, and once again God chooses that which is weak and foolish in the world to shame the wise!
* as of August 19, AD 2009, a liberal protestant SECT, not part of the holy, catholic and apostolic CHURCH.
The liberals have their "Lutheran" "church". Straights who do not agree must stay on to give them cover. ("We need you!")
I see what must happen now is a reformation of the ELCA. The good news is that the ELCA doesn't have the military and political clout that the early Roman Church had. The dissenting members of the ELCA and their whole parishes may walk away. Of course, the Homos will want the property, which was the principle goal in the first place.
Sorry, I mean “Pastor”.
Did the Holy Spirit have anything to do with the Holy Scriptures? Does the Holy Spirit contradict himself? Is He capricious? Does the Spirit tell people to do things that he has forbidden them to do?
The ELCA is listening to the wrong spirit.
“Is the Holy Spirit calling us to affirm the life choices of our gay/lesbian brothers and sisters? But if the Holy Spirit is speaking to us, why is the Holy Spirit not speaking to our brothers and sisters in the Roman Catholic, United Methodist, Orthodox, Presbyterian churches? Are they deaf to the Spirit, and we can hear what no one else can hear? We believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, and the vast majority of Christians worldwide would not consider what we are being asked to do today.”
Indeed, the same Holy Spirit once called on the people of Sodom to affirm such life choices. Some of you who read this may be upset, but remember, the meaning of any word is determined by the context. I know what Holy Spirit means when I read it in the Bible or my well-worn Small Catechism. But I do not know what it means when it comes from the mouth of an ELCA bishop or pastor. I hope the people in the pews begin to figure that out and vote accordingly ... with their feet!
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