Unsuspended: Last week we reported that Pr. Lionel Ketola and Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Newmarket, Ontario had parted ways, noting that in 2008 the congregation had been suspended by Bishop Michael Pryse of the Eastern Synod for issuing a call to a pastor not on the clergy roster of the ELCIC.
In a
letter dated February 20, Bishop Pryse advised the congregation that he has lifted its suspension. It is the bishop's understanding that Holy Cross will also rescind its appeal of the suspension verdict.

Healing from the Edges: With all the brouhaha last week over the release of Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust (HSGT), we neglected to report on the first-ever Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries (ELM) gathering held February 14 in the Urban Life Center at St. Mark's Lutheran Church in San Francisco.
About 60 people participated in the day-long event which featured a deeply moving worship service, reports from members of the ELM Covenant Circle, reports from several of the ministries sponsored by ELM, small group discussions, and time to socialize.
The tone for the day was set by co-chair Pr. Erik Christensen. In his opening remarks, Pr. Christensen noted that ELM began as a movement of resistance to ELCA policy but as its roster has grown, ELM has become an agent of ministry. He cited this metaphor from
To Bless the Space Between Us by John O'Dononhue:
[W]hen you have a wound in your hand, it always heals from the edges; the center is the last place to heal. Clearly it is not the wound which has finally relented and decided to heal itself. Rather it is the surrounding health and wholesomeness of your body that invades the stricken place with healing.
As the stories of congregations supported by ELM unfolded, it became apparent that many of them had roots in mission society activities (for example to foster Lutheran worship in English) in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Many of those present were unaware that ELM's gathering was held in the same room as the 1990 disciplinary hearing that resulted in the expulsion of First United Lutheran Church and St. Francis Lutheran Church.
Our customarily unobtrusive reporter apparently fooled no one. At lunch he was greeted by Judith Dancer with "Oh, you're the confessions guy."

And Speaking of Brouhaha: We would be remiss in our duties if we failed to bring to your attention the Shellfish Blog's compilation of published articles in response to Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust (HSGT).
Tracking all this stuff down is no mean feat, and we thank them for it.
One item that we haven't noticed on Shellfish as of this writing is an article by Frank Lee from the St. Cloud Times: Lutherans Debate Gay Clergy. The article features quotes from several perspectives including some words from our good friend Pr. Jayne Thompson


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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.

    of University Lutheran Church of the Epiphany.
    Our favorite quote was from Pr. John Kroschel of Atonement Lutheran Church:
    Itís the beauty of Lutheranism, and itís also the messiness of Lutheranism ó that we struggle with questions and not to give once-and-for-all, black-and-white answers.

    On Leave, Vacant: On Sunday, February 22, 2009 Pr. Bradley Froslee (pictured) was installed as pastor of Calvary Lutheran Church in Minneapolis. The Reverend Neal Halvorson-Taylor preached and Prs. Mary Halvorson and Dan Garnaas presided.
    According to a report in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the Minneapolis Area Synod will list Calgary as vacant in spite of the fact that Calvary is an ELCA congregation in good standing and Pr. Froslee is on the ELCA roster. Pr. Froslee will also be listed as on leave from call. (The synod website lists Pr. Froslee as "contract pastor" for Calvary.)
    The sticking point is that Pr. Froslee is a gay man who, since his ordination, has become involved in a relationship.
    All this seems to fly in the face of the official uses of "on leave from call" status which is described on the Synod's web site:
    On-leave-from-call status is not automatically granted. It must be requested and a rationale provided by the rostered minister as to why on-leave-from-call status should be granted. A rostered minister seeking on-leave-from-call status shall make a written request to the synodical bishop within 45 days following the termination of a prior call. Failure to do so may result in removal from the roster.

    Ask Pr. Sophie: Pr. Sophie Fortresson, our resident expert on all matters of theology, Lutheran etiquette, and social protocol, answers questions submitted by our readers and occasionally simply volunteers advice when no question has been asked. Send your questions to pr_sophie@lutheranconfessions.com.
    Dear Pr. Sophie: In the newsletter at my church this week there was an item that read:
    During the season of Lent, please refrain from using the word
    a------ in worship.

    I was aghast! I don't know about you, but where I come from, only the crudest of people use words like a------, and that sort of profanity has absolutely no place in a house of worship in any liturgical season. Can you suggest a tactful way for me to bring this up with my pastor? I'm worried that something very embarrassing may happen in my church on Easter Sunday. E.L., Zumbrota, MN
    Dear E.L.: Thank you so much for your question. Pr. Sophie hardly knows what to say, but then who among us does, really? In such situations, it is always best to remember Luther's injunction regarding the eighth commandment: put the best construction on everything.
    Have you considered that "a------" in your newsletter might be a typo?
    While the two terms are worlds apart in meaning, there is a perilously thin typographical line between between a------- (seven hyphens) and a------ (six hyphens). It is a common practice in many Lutheran churches to omit the word a-------- (seven hyphens) from the liturgy during Lent. Pr. Sophie is unaware of any liturgical uses for a------ (six hyphens).
    It might be wise to disambiguate the two words more clearly: (a------a and a-----e). It is Pr. Sophie's fervent hope that this can be done without offending anyone's sensibilities.

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