Marriage and Ice Cream: At midnight on Tuesday September 1, Vermont's same-sex marriage law went into effect. The Chicago Tribune ran an Associated Press story by John Curran noting that Bill Slimback and Bob Sullivan were married at one minute after midnight in a 17-minute ceremony at Moose Meadow Lodge in Waterbury, Vermont. Co-owner Greg Trulson, a Justice of the Peace, presided.
To celebrate marriage freedom in Vermont, Ben and Jerry's has, for the month of September, renamed its Chubby Hubby ice cream: Hubby Hubby. Ben and Jerry's is also partnering with Freedom to Marry to promote awareness of marriage equality.
Evan Wolfson, executive director of Freedom to Marry, said:
It's not polite to talk with your mouth full, but the most important thing that all us ice cream lovers can do to support the freedom to marry is speak with the people we know about why marriage matters and the need to end marriage discrimination in every state. Thanks to Ben & Jerry's, starting those needed conversations has never been sweeter – and thanks to Freedom to Marry, we all now have a great excuse to eat more ice cream.
My Book Report: On Sunday, August 30, Pr. David Weekley (pictured) of Epworth United Methodist Church in Portland, Oregon preached a sermon titled My Book Report. The book he reported on is an autobiography, his own life story and spiritual journey, and it is a story that was largely unknown to the members of his congregation:
From earliest memory, I saw myself as a boy. The boy who would grow into the man you see here today...
My friends were other boys on the street. We played baseball, kick-the-can, football, and other games. We built clubhouses by the frog pond...
At first this was no problem, but when I entered public school and kindergarten everything changed, because when the world looked at me, heard my name and talked to my family, they saw a little girl.
With great care Pr. Weekley described his journey of self-discovery. In 1972 he began a three-year process that would culminate in a series of surgeries "to help make my external gender match my internal one as a man."
After keeping his story to himself for twenty-seven years, Pr. Weekley was moved to speak publicly by his experience on a pilgrimage to Minidoka, a government-established camp to which Japanese-Americans were forced to relocate during World War II:
There is a profound spiritual and emotional healing that can only come to us as we are willing to share our stories and our authentic selves in community...
Speaking our truth is one powerful way to help end misunderstanding, misinformation, and the abuse that can come when people do not understand those different from themselves. This is one way to be doers of God’s word.
Pr. Weekley was ordained in 1984 and has served congregations in Idaho and Oregon.
Bishop Robert T. Hoshibata of the Oregon-Idaho Regional Conference issued this statement:
We believe that God has called David Weekley to serve as an elder in The United Methodist Church. In response to God’s call, Reverend Weekley has effectively served his congregations for 27 years. He is choosing now to share this earlier part of his life journey honestly and openly. This decision does not, in any way, change his faith or his commitment to the ministry to which he was ordained, nor does it change his status as an elder in good standing.. I prayerfully ask that his congregation, his colleagues and The United Methodist Church continue to uphold him and his family at this time.
Greg Nelson, director of communications for the United Methodist Church in Oregon and Idaho remarked:
The United Methodist book of discipline does not speak to transgender as an impediment to ordination.
On the Other Hand: In an August 26 article, Linda Green writing for the United Metodist News Service (UMNA) noted that the ELCA's recent actions do not pave the way for noncelibate gay clergy to serve in United Methodist churches. Ms. Green quotes Bishop Gregory Palmer (pictured), president of the United Methodist Council of Bishops:
Our Book of Discipline on that subject did not become null and void when they took that vote. It still applies to United Methodist clergy.
Ms. Green's article for UMNS was titled Ecumenical pact does not open door to gay clergy, and it became the foundation for a Christian Post article titled Methodists Say No to Lutheran Gay Clergy by Lillian Kwon that appeared on August 27, which, in turn, was picked up by Church Solutions with the title Methodists, Lutherans Will Not Share Gay Clergy.
The View from Mayville: On August 31, the Jamestown Sun (Jamestown, North Dakota) reported Lutheran change draws no outcry at small church and proceeded to document how members at Gran Lutheran Church in Mayville, N.D. (about a one-hour drive north from Fargo) responded to recent events in the ELCA
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Members of one small Red River Valley church that goes back 136 years say they’re not bothered by a new Lutheran church policy that allows gays and lesbians to serve as clergy, though not all embrace the idea...
Lois Hanson, a Gran member who says she soon will be 90, says the change is not upsetting to her ELCA congregation.
"Nobody is dead-set against it," she said. "Which isn’t what you’d expect, maybe."
Jerry Paulson, who lives just across the Goose River, says he doubts the policy will change much at Gran, or in the Red River Valley's hundreds of ELCA congregations, because each congregation still gets to decide whom to call as a pastor.
Edith Anderson said she has a nephew and rural neighbors who are gay, and she finds them ordinary and wonderful people...
At least one member of Gran may leave over the policy change.
Tom Woodard just transferred to Gran from Mayville Lutheran, where he's been a member 20 years, mostly to attend an early service each Sunday.
"I think it’s wrong," he said of the new clergy policy involving gays and lesbians
"They are welcome to sit beside me in church and like me, have my sins forgiven. But from what I read in the Bible, it's sin. That's the way I believe. There's nothing wrong with the people. They are just as good as I am," Woodard said.
In 2008 Mayville was named North Dakota City of the Year.
Board Certified Chaplain for ELM: On September 2, our friends at Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries (ELM) announced that the Association for Professional Chaplains has approved the Rev. Dale Poland (pictured) as a Board Certified Chaplain. Rev. Poland serves as a chaplain with HospiceCare of Boulder and Broomfield Counties in Colorado, and he is rostered with ELM.
Rev. Poland applied for certification and was endorsed by ELM in February of this year. Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries is recognized 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. Rev. Poland is the first ELM-endorsed chaplain to be approved for certification.
That They All May Be One: On August 27, Rev. Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit of Norway was elected General Secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC). His term will begin in 2010.
Rev. Dr. Tveit is an ordained pastor in the Church of Norway. He has been general secretary of the church’s Council on Ecumenical and International Relations since 2002. He previously worked as secretary for the church’s Doctrinal Commission, 1999-2000, and Church-State Relations, 2001-2002. He served as a parish priest in Haram, Møre Diocese, 1988-91, and was an army chaplain during his 1987-88 compulsory year of national service.
He is a member of the WCC Faith and Order Plenary Commission and the board of directors and executive committee of the Christian Council of Norway.
Invited to speak about his vision for the WCC, Rev. Dr. Tveit's remarks took John 17:21 as a text: Hina pantes hen åsin ("That they all may be one"). He said in part:
What does it mean to be one? To be one is to stand up for one another; to step out of our own interests - for the other, for a higher cause of unity; to stand together in the whole mission of God. We are so much stronger together. The agenda for justice and peace demands that we are one; the agenda for unity theologically implies that we care for peace, justice and the creation.
Mutual Accountability is for me not only the title of my doctoral thesis but a vision for this council as to how we work together, being one. You are exercising this when you are visiting one another as living letters, and when you develop your methods of consensus building. It means reliability, a commitment to listen, and a willingness to criticize and to hear criticism constructively.
The Reconfiguration of North American Lutheranism: Lutheran CORE will hold its 2009 Convocation September 25-26 at Christ the Savior Lutheran Church in Fishers, Indiana. Deadline for registration is September 10.
A recent letter from Rev. Paull Spring provided details of the convocation program:
We want you to know in more detail what we hope to accomplish at the Convocation. Our goal and vision for Lutheran CORE is a re-forming and a re-newal of our coalition. With God's help, we intend to be . . .
A confessional and confessing movement, rooted in Scripture, creeds, and confessions, open to all Lutherans in North America
A churchly community, grounded in Word and sacrament and congregational mission
A free-standing synod, carrying out synodical ministries, apart from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
An umbrella group for other Lutheran reform movements
A coalition of synods, congregations, individuals, and reform movements both within and outside the ELCA
In addition, we intend to initiate a process that we hope will lead to a reconfiguration of North American Lutheranism (see resolution 4 below).
Resolution 4 reads:
4. That the Steering Committee be authorized to initiate conversations among the congregations and reform movements in Lutheran CORE and with Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ and other compatible churchly organizations, leading toward a possible re-configuration of North American Lutheranism, whether through existing or newly created structures; and that the Steering Committee present a report and recommendations to the 2010 convocation of Lutheran CORE.
The convocation will also consider a proposed constitution for Lutheran CORE.
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