Oh, Alberta: If you thought that perhaps there was more going on than met the eye in last week's reporting of the ELCIC National Convention, you were right. In the wake of the convention one of our far-flung reporters sent a link to Thursday Theology, #577 by Ed Schroeder.
Featured in that issue of Thursday Theology are two movements in the ELCIC: the Confessional Ministerium and an unnamed group whose website is simply webelieveinthegospel.org. Both seem to have begun in Alberta, and each has a web site and an open letter or statement seeking signatories. As of this writing, 57 people had signed the Confessional Ministerium Statement and 233 people had signed the "We Believe in the Gospel" Open Letter. The two movements were the subject of an April 1 pastoral letter from Bishop Ronald B. Mayan of the ELCIC's Synod of Alberta and the Territories.
Also worthy of your attention is Thursday Theology, #576 in which Ed Schroeder applies the "Augsburg Aha!" to the discussion of the sexuality social statement in the ELCA. The Augsburg Aha! can be summarized as the insight that there is exactly one Christian doctrine, the Gospel itself, from which all other thinking about God, Scripture, and faith unfolds. Be careful how you use this insight: in some quarters a pro-Gospel position is understood to be antinomian.
No Joy: We learned from Ronald E. Keener writing for Church Executive magazine that Community Church of Joy (CCOJ) in Glendale, Arizona voted on June 28 to sever its relationship with the ELCA and to join Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ. The church's news blog confirmed the report. CCOJ's weekly attendance is approximately 2500.
Mr. Keener's article (Lutherans deciding on new role allowing gay ordained clergy: Megapastor Walt Kallestad says his church "will not accept or comply" with any such denominational decision.) includes an interview with Pr. Walt Kallestad Senior Pastor of CCOJ :
Keener: If the vote goes against you, what are you prepared to do?
Kallestad: Well, I would say to you that weíre going to do everything we can to pray and seek God that this would not prevail, that the vote of the acceptance of leadership and the ordination of gays and lesbian pastors, I believe would break Godís heart, it would break many peopleís hearts. But at the end of the day, should they choose to do that, weíll ask God what do you want us to do at that point? Because Iím not interested in starting another denomination or dividing the church, yet itís much like Martin Luther who said here I stand, I can do no other. I have to take a stand.
Apparently the congregation decided not to wait for the outcome of the ELCA Churchwide assembly.
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Lost in Translation?: Some of our readers (you know who you are) read everything. This past week we received email with the subject "Lost in Translation?" from one such reader. The email asked us to consider two statements:
Statement 1: Today's momentous actions by the ELCA Church Council guarantee that for the first time in the history of our church a recommendation for the elimination of the policy of discrimination against ministers in same-gender relationships will come to the floor of the ELCA Churchwide Assembly from the churchwide organization itself. The Church Council has acted for justice.
Statement 2: Views within the ELCA run the gamut. But the documents and motions being presented by the Task Force for ELCA Studies on Sexuality and the ELCA Church Council take no position ó rather, a middle ground.
According to our correspondent, both of these statements have been attributed to our friend Emily Eastwood, Executive Director of Lutherans Concerned North America (LCNA). Statement 1 appears in a March 29 LCNA Press Release titled ELCA Church Council recommends rostering changes that allow ministers in committed same-gender relationships. Statement 2 is appears in Not Them And Us in the My View column of the July, 2009 issue of The Lutheran.
Our correspondent comments:
No translator is credited for the article in The Lutheran, but textual evidence (e.g. the striking lack of similarity between the two statements cited) indicates that something must have gone awry in the preparation of this text. Furthermore, the failure to distinguish between neutrality ("take no position") and a centrist stance ("middle ground") suggests either that the translator was not a native speaker of Ms. Eastwood's dialect or that translation software was used.
Queerly Lutheran: Wilgefortis Press has published Queerly Lutheran:, Ministry Rooted in Tradition, Scripture and the Confessions by Pr. Megan Rohrer. Wilgefortis describes the book:
A unique combination of sermons, essays and storytelling, Queerly Lutheran provocatively examines the roots of Lutheran tradition and delivers Good News to Lutherans of all sexual orientations and gender identities. Using the sex life of Martin Luther as a model, Queerly Lutheran invites readers and the contemporary church to reexamine our past and work towards a more welcoming future.
The book also includes an Extraordinary Prayer Calendar for anyone wishing to include queer saints (past and present) in devotional practice. A portion of the proceeds from each book sold will be donated to Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries (ELM).
Wilgefortis Press is named for St. Wilgefortis, a female saint whose cult dates from the 14th century. Wilgefortis is reported to have been a teen-aged noblewoman, promised in marriage by her father to a pagan king. To derail the wedding pans, Wilgefortis took a vow of virginity and prayed to be made repulsive. Her prayers were answered, she sprouted a beard, the engagement ended, and her father had her crucified. St. Wilgefortis is called upon by those seeking relief from tribulations.
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