Encountering Compassionate and Clear Truth: Concordia Publishing House (CPH) notified us this week that The Bible and Same-Sex Marriage (an entry in the Changing Currents Bible study series) was available as a free download. The 4-page study was written by Rev. Robert C. Baker with contributions by Rev. Todd Wilken (the host of the Issues, Etc. radio program). CPH says:
In the midst of many competing opinions, encounter the compassionate and clear truth that Godís Word provides for this controversial, and often sensitive issue.
An excerpt from the guide:
3. Discuss this statement: When churches support same-sex "marriage," the greatest travesty isn't a further decline in morality - it is that sinners are being denied the opportunity for repentance and faith in Jesus, and those trying to follow His will in their sexual lives are being scorned - by fellow Christians.
CPH has several studies and resources on "this controversial topic."
After looking at the CPH offerings, we wondered what it would take for a church press to offer affirmative (and not merely tolerant) resources. We suspect that something more than structured flexibility is required.
We did not do an exhaustive study (we never do), but it didn't take much effort to find the Sexuality and Gender Studies offerings from United Church Press, the publishing ministry of the United Church of Christ. United Church Press publishes it's own resources and distributes materials published by the UCC Coalition for LGBT Concerns. United Church Press offers titles like Heterosexism in Contemporary World Religion, the Coalition's Same-Gender Marriage Study Guide, Out With It (writings about homosexuality by gay and straight teens), and What the Bible Really Says about Homosexuality.
If your taste falls somewhere between those two alternatives, try a search of homosexuality at Augsburg Fortress Press.

Blessed Event: Rev. Jen Nagel of Salem English Lutheran Church in Minneapolis and her partner Rev. Jane McBride are the proud parents of Eliza Grace McBride Nagel. Eliza Grace, 20 inches tall and weighing 7 lbs, was born May 22. The baby and her birth mother are in good health following the delivery. Eliza was placed with Revs. McBride and Nagle for adoption. Eliza made her first appearance at an ELM Covenant Circle meeting in Minneapolis on the weekend of June 12. Our ELM friends report that the family is happy and excited about the future. Pr. Jen Nagel is rostered with Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries. We learned about the birth from COMMAntary, Vol 5, No. 17. COMMAntary is the e-newsletter of the Minnesota Conference of the United Church of Christ.

Marching for Equality in Warsaw: On June 13, The Equality Parade marched through Warsaw. The theme for the 2009 parade was"40 years of Equality, 20 years of Freedom," commemorating both the Stonewall riots of 1969 and the June, 1989 free parliamentary election in Poland. Reports of the number of participants vary from 1000 to 4500.

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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.

    Polish National Radio reports:
    The Warsaw parade demanded legalizing homosexual relationships and called for introducing education, free of homophobic ideas.
    The parade marched undisturbed through the capital, but a counter demonstration of rightist and nationalist youth movements gathered outside the Parliament buildings. Their representatives said they were not protesting against gay and lesbian movements but demanding respect for the Polish Constitution, whereby demanding legalization for recognition of homosexual partnerships is a violation of article 18, which reads that marriage is a partnership "between a man and a woman."

    Begging for Change: Our friend Pr. Megan Rohrer, director of the Welcome Ministry reports her plans for the ELCA Churchwide Assembly:
    Due to a 7 hour flight delay last night I was able to get a plane ticket for only $50 and the Welcome Ministry now owns a flip phone. So I'm all set for churchwide and will begin doing the research about the laws in Minnesota to be able to plan for my street retreat. One of my board members will be in attendance so I'll have a place I can store stuff, take showers and plug in my phone (which I will blog from).
    So, I plan to blog daily and post some video blogs about my experience. My current intention is to call it "Begging for Change" with the message that gay people are already pastors - the church needs to get past this issue and pay attention to poverty issues and other justice issues.

    Rumored in Philly: In May we reported that the Central Philadelphia Conference elected Pr. Jay Wiesner (pictured) of University Lutheran Church of the Incarnation to the office of conference dean. Pr. Wiesner is rostered with Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries (ELM). He is not the first ELM pastor to be elected dean of an ELCA conference. We know that Pr. Ross Merkel, Pr. Steve Sabin, and Pr. Jeff Johnson, all ELM pastors of ELCA congregations, have also served as deans of their respective conferences. (We apologize to any ELM roster members whose deanships we have overlooked.)
    This week, however, we received this followup from a far-flung reporter on the scene:
    While I was in Philly I heard that Pastor Jay was asked by the Bishop to resign as dean of the conference and that he agreed. I didn't hear if it was public info or not.
    Of course, this is just unconfirmed hearsay, and may not conform to the facts, if there are any. True or not, however, it's public now.

    Alice, Remember Alice?: A few weeks ago voting members for this year's ELCA Churchwide Assembly received a letter from Immanuel Lutheran Church in Alice, Texas concerning "The Decisions before You Concerning Same-Gender Relationships."
    The congregation at Immanuel does not favor changing ministry standards:
    Hard as it will be for some to accept, the ELCA needs to remain steadfast in prohibiting non-celibate homosexuals from becoming rostered in any capacity of this church body. This is the most loving action we can take.
    In our experience, direct appeals to voting members inevitably raise eyebrows. There are rules concerning who may have access to the list of voting members (see Church Council Action CC01.04.44) and who may send materials to voting members (see Church Council Action CC88.07.80). And where there are rules, often there are also anxieties over who might be bending the rules and why.
    And that, we presume, is why more than one of our readers hinted that we might be interested in the letter (we, ourselves, are not voting members).
    So we emailed Pr. Kathleen Kasper at Immanuel, and she very graciously responded with a copy of the letter (which is expected to appear on the church's web site) and explained the process (established in CC88.07.80 referenced above) by which the ELCA churchwide organization will distribute to voting members materials "pertinent to the business of the assembly" submitted by "any organization composed entirely of members of the congregations of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America." Of course the organization submitting the material bears the cost of the mailing.

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