Issues, Etc. (TM): On February 18 we received email from Pr. Todd Wilken informing us that the Board of Directors of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod (LCMS) submitted a letter opposing the trademark application for the name "Issues, Etc." Apparently the LCMS has also threatened through its legal counsel, to bring legal action against Jeff Schwarz and Pr. Wilken, the staff of Issues, Etc..
Regular readers will recall that Issues, Etc. was a regular offering of KFUO the LCMS radio station. The LCMS canceled the show in March, 2008 (on Tuesday of Holy Week). The program resumed broadcasting as an independent venture on June 30, 2008.
An on-line petition drive has begun for those who wish to register their disappointment with this turn of events.

Structured Flexibility(TM): On February 19, the ELCA released Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust, the proposed social statement on human sexuality that will be considered by the 2009 Churchwide Assembly later this year. A companion document Report and Recommendations on Ministry Policies was also released. For each of the two documents, the ELCA also provided an executive summary, a list of frequently asked questions (with answers), and a list of talking points.
On first reading, our favorite sentence is:
However, the majority of the task force believes that the conscience-bound lack of consensus will be respected most faithfully by providing some structured flexibility in decision-making so that congregations and synods may choose whether or not to approve or call people in publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships to serve on ELCA rosters.
We hereby nominate "conscience-bound lack of consensus" for Phrase of the Year (POTY) honors.
In related developments, we have learned that there is absolutely no truth to the rumor that structured flexibility is a registered trademark of Victoria's Secret.

Religious Endorsing Body Endorses: On February 14, Rev. Dale Poland (pictured) received ecclesiastical endorsement from Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries (ELM). The endorsement is an important milestone in Pr. Poland's application to become a Board Certified Chaplain with the Association for Professional Chaplains (APC). Pr. Poland serves as a chaplain with HospiceCare of Boulder and Broomfield Counties in Colorado.
Pr. Poland's endorsement is the first for ELM, which has recently earned official recognition as a credentialing and endorsing body by the Association for Professional Chaplains, The Association for Clinical Pastoral Education, and the American Association for Pastoral Counselors. Participating in the endorsement meeting were ELM's Bay Area Regional Panel chaired by


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Pr. Sophie is all a-Twitter. Again.
Pr. Sophie's Tweets:

    Hot Dish Hotline: "We cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard." What have you seen or heard that other people really need to know about? Use the Hot Dish Hotline to submit your item online.

    Pr. Mary Stein Webber and Pr. Rod Seeger, Coordinator of Ecclesiastical Endorsement.

    Friendly Cooperation: On Tuesday, February 17, the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) asked Broadway Baptist Church of Fort Worth, Texas to clarify its views on homosexuality. The Executive Committee is charged with determining if Broadway Baptist's tolerance of gay members violates a constitutional ban on churches that "act to affirm, approve or endorse homosexual behavior."
    The matter came before the Executive Committee as a result of a request made at the 2008 SBC Annual Meeting by Bill Sanderson (pictured), pastor of Hepzibah Baptist Church in Wendell, N.C. Pastor Sanderson moved that Broadway Baptist be declared "not to be in friendly cooperation with the Southern Baptist Convention."
    In 1994, SBC changed its constitution to exclude churches that are welcoming and affirming of gays. In the past, the amendment has been interpreted to apply to churches that take some formal action, like ordaining or licensing a gay minister or conducting a ceremony to bless a same-sex union.
    In 2007, a pictorial directory of the congregation was planned in celebration of the Broadway Baptist's 125th anniversary. A controversy erupted over picturing partnered gay and lesbian members as couples. After extensive debate, in February, 2008, the congregation approved (by a vote of 294-182) a compromise: the directory would include no family portraits.
    A letter from leaders of the congregation to the Executive Committee read in part:
    We are not a church where homosexuality is a defining issue. While we extend Christian hospitality to anyone -- including homosexuals -- we do not endorse, approve or affirm homosexual behavior.
    The next scheduled meeting of the Executive Committee is June 22, immediately prior to the 2009 SBC Annual Meeting in Louisville, Kentucky.

    O, Canada: On February 14, a brief announcement appeared on the web site of Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Newmarket, Ontario. It reads in part:
    It is with deep sadness that Holy Cross Lutheran Church announces the departure of Pastor Lionel Ketola from the position of Associate Pastor of our congregation and as our Ambassador of Reconciliation to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada.
    We are grateful to Pastor Lionel for this ministry which embodied the inclusive vision of so many and offered hope to all those who are working to make the ELCIC a church where all Godís children are free to respond to Godís call to ordained ministry. We give thanks to Pastor Lionel for his willingness to share his considerable talents in this important ministry.
    We pray that God will continue to bless Pastor Lionel in whatever ministry he undertakes in the future.

    Holy Cross voted to call Pr. Ketola as associate pastor on April 20, 2008. He was ordained extra ordinem and installed on May 16-17. On July 9 at a synod assembly, Eastern Synod bishop The Rev. Michael Pryse announced his intention to pursue disciplinary action against both the congregation and any clergy participating in the ordination. On November 15, a letter from Bishop Pryse advised the congregation that it had been suspended.

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