North American Martyrs in Cup Final: We were as surprised as anyone to learn that the North American Martyrs were competing for the 2009 Clericus Cup.
The Clericus Cup is a football tournament organized by Centro Sportivo Italiano (CSI) with teams made up of students and staff from the various Catholic colleges in the city and province of Rome including the Pontifical North American College (NAC) (America's Seminary in Rome). The NAC team's nickname is The Martyrs: "Even when we lose, we win."
On May 16 the Martyrs defeated defending champion Mater Ecclesiae in a semi-final match. They will face the Redemptoris Mater squad in the finals on May 23.
In history, the North American Martyrs (also known as the Canadian Martyrs were eight Jesuit missionaries among the Hurons, who were killed in the 17th century during the wars between the Huron and the Iroquois.
The Martyrs are St. Jean de Brébeuf, St. Noël Chabanel, St. Antoine Daniel, St. Charles Garnier, St. René Goupil, St. Isaac Jogues, St. Jean de Lalande, and St. Gabriel Lalemant.
They were canonized by Pope Pius XI in 1930.

Dean Extraordinaire: Our regular readers are probably aware that the Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod (SEPA) held its assembly on May 8 and 9 in Franconia, PA. Both WordAlone and Lutherans Concerned / North America (LCNA) have reported on the assembly's actions.
It is customary in the SEPA synod for Conferences to caucus at the annual assembly to elect conference deans and to transact other conference business.
We learned belatedly from a posting on the Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries (ELM) blog that the Central Philadelphia Conference elected Pr. Jay Wiesner (pictured) of University Lutheran Church of the Incarnation to the office of conference dean.
Even though he serves an ELCA parish, Pr. Wiesner, because he is rostered with ELM, was not a voting member at the synod assembly.

Orthodox, Catholic, American, Trans: On May 2, 2009, at in Kearny, New Jersey, the Rev. Lynn Walker (pictured) was consecrated as a Bishop in the Orthodox Catholic Church of America (OCCA).
Mother Lynn was elected to the episcopate by the OCCA Synod of Bishops at its meeting in Indianapolis in October, 2008. She will serve the Diocese of the Atlantic Coast. OCCA Women have served in holy orders since 1978, but Mother Lynn is the first woman to be elected bishop in the OCCA. To the best of our knowledge she is the first trans-woman to serve as bishop in any Christian faith community.
We were not acquainted with the Orthodox Catholic Church of America, but we appreciate their perspective:
Our common task is to live within the Great Orthodox Tradition in an American way, praying for one another and ministering the Holy Mysteries to people who find themselves hungry for God and have yet to be welcomed at the Holy Table. We count the beginning of our autocephalous church to be January 1, 1910.

More Celebrity Commentary: This week's celebrity commentator on the ELCA Social Statement on Human Sexuality and its accompanying policy recommendations is the Northern Illinois District, Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.
On May 8 and 9, the Northern Illinois District held its annual convention in Lombard, Illinois.

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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.

    (District President Dan Gilbert is pictured.) Delegates adopted Resolution 1-02: To Address the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s Debate on Homosexuality and the Ministry.
    The resolution reads in part:
    That the Northern Illinois District of The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod (LCMS) confess the truth of God’s Word that homosexuality is contrary to God’s will and design, (Matthew 19:4-6, Romans 1:18-32); and be it further
    That the Northern Illinois District of the LCMS state its encouragement and support for those who are confessing the truth of God’s Word within the ELCA regarding homosexuality and the Holy Ministry...

    The resolution also commits the NIL district to pray both for those who seek to hold to God’s Word as well as those who are bound in error and sin.

    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
    This week's question was forwarded from Bishop Thorvald ("Wally") Noe-Effingway of the Central Great Lakes Synod:
    Dear Sophie: The attached letter seems to have come to me by mistake. I think it's more your cup of tea than mine. Good luck, Wally
    Dear Bishop Noe-Effingway: Grace and peace to you on the eve of the eve of the Ascension. (BTW, I'm sorry if mentioning eve upon eve makes you uncomfortable.)
    I have received a steady stream of synod assembly updates from Lutherans Concerned and I am distressed about your relative silence during these perilous times in the life of the ELCA, indeed in all of Christendom. Do you not care that the ELCA may soon declare itself outside the bounds of the Christian communion? Please Bishop, speak up. At the very least I hope you will insist that the LC/NA tabulations include results from the Central Great Lakes Synod assembly.
    Which brings me to my final question: why doesn't a church that professes to believe in the Bible not once mention onanism in its statement on human sexuality?
    Your faithful partner, (but not in the life-long committed, publicly accountable sense--even though I think we are same-gendered).

    Dear Faithful (but not in That Sense) Partner: Pr. Sophie feels your pain and she has no doubt Bishop Noe-Effingway does, too. To the best of Pr. Sophie's knowledge, synod assembly updates from Lutherans Concerned are distributed only in email on Tuesdays, and the results are what they are. Pr. Sophie urges all parties in the ELCA discussion to cultivate a generosity of spirit not unlike that of the Martyrs football team discussed elsewhere in this issue: even when we lose, we win.
    Pr. Sophie believes your invocation of onanism is, in fact, quite timely because it raises the issue of the so-called biblical view of marriage.
    The sin for which Onan is struck dead by God in Genesis 38 is not masturbation or coitus interruptus. Rather, Onan was killed for failing to follow instructions. Er (the firstborn) and Onan were sons of Judah. We are told that Er was wicked and God killed him. Afterward Judah prevailed on Onan to have sex with Tamar, Er's widow, to produce an heir for Er. (This is an early form of "levirate marriage" which would later be prescribed in Deuteronomy 25.) Onan had sex with Tamar but withdrew prematurely to prevent conception. God was angered and killed Onan for failing to produce an heir for his brother. Ultimately, Judah fathered twins by Tamar under less than seemly circumstances.
    The story of Onan illustrates the diversity of marriage practice tolerated (and in this case encouraged) by God in the Bible. Pr. Sophie believes that behind this diversity of practice there is a Biblical understanding of marriage that has more to do with commitment, fidelity, and accountability than with the accidents of etiquette and family organization in any particular time and place.
    Pr. Sophie wishes you and all her readers a blessed observance of the Ascension as we celebrate once again the mystery that what comes down must go up.

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    Disclaimer: is not affiliated with the any other organization,and particularly none of the following: American Association of Lutheran Churches (AALC), American Lutheran Publicity Bureau (ALPB), Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), Evangelical Lutheran Synod (ELS), Extraordinary Candidacy Project (ECP) (now defunct), Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries (ELM), Fellowship of Confessional Lutherans (FOCL),, International Lutheran Council, Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS), Lutherans Concerned / North America (LCNA), Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ (LCMC), Lutheran Lesbian and Gay Ministries (LLGM) (now defunct), Lutheran Ministerium and Synod (LMS-USA), Lutheran Women's Missionary League (LWML), North American Lutheran Church (NALC), Queer Lutheran Liberation Front (QLLF), Societas Trinitatis Sanctae (STS), Wingspan, Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS), or Word Alone.