Aligned with Church Teachings?: On October 1, CBC News reported that an Edmonton teachers' union has filed a complaint with the Alberta Human Rights Commission on behalf of a teacher who was fired by a Catholic school board for changing his gender.
The teacher Jan Buterman (pictured) was removed from the substitute teacher list of the Greater St. Albert Catholic School Board last year.
According to CBC News, Steve Bayus, deputy superintendent of schools for Greater St. Albert, advised Mr. Buterman of the termination in a letter that read in part:
[T]he teaching of the Catholic Church is that persons cannot change their gender. One's gender is considered what God created us to be.
Since you made a personal choice to change your gender, which is contrary to Catholic teachings, we have had to remove you from the substitute teacher list.
Your gender change is not aligned with the teachings of the church and would create confusion and complexity with students and parents as a model and witness to Catholic faith values.
Mr. Bayus also noted that the school board purposely hires teachers who will be models and witnesses of Catholic Church teaching.
In a report on the incident in the Edmonton Sun, Mr. Buterman noted that when he was hired, school board officials were aware that he was a Lutheran and no one questioned his ability to witness to Catholic faith values.
Where Are the Other Nine?: On September 27, an ELCA News Release documented the decision of the congregation at Community Church of Joy (CCOJ) in Glendale, AZ to leave the ELCA:
Community Church of Joy, Glendale, Ariz., ended its affiliation Sept. 27 with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), the largest Lutheran denomination in the United States.
The congregation was the 10th largest in the ELCA with 6,800 baptized members. According to the 2009 ELCA Yearbook, Community Church of Joy's current operating expenses are more than $2.7 million. It gave more than $207,915 to the ELCA and other organizations in benevolence. By a unanimous vote of 129-0, Community Church of Joy terminated the relationship at a congregational meeting following worship.
One of our far-flung reporters did the arithmetic: 129 is less than 2% of 6800. It is in fact 1.8970588235294117647058823529412%.
The September 27 vote ratified an earlier vote (174-11) to separate from the ELCA taken on June 28.
CCOJ's points of disagreement with the ELCA include Scripture, policy toward Israel, and promotion of homosexual clergy. CCOJ will affiliate with Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ (LCMC).
Fraternal, Collegial Dialogue: An October 1 release from ELCA News Service reported the September 26-28 meeting of the Committee on Lutheran Cooperation (CLC) in Baltimore. According to the ELCA news release, the church leaders agreed that they would do all they can to continue their long-time cooperative ministries. Sinfully Delicious: You'll be the envy of everyone in your lectionary study group, and your Fair Trade Coffee will be sinfully delicious because you're drinking it from the Official LutheranConfessions.com MUG! Be the Life of the Party:
After the meeting, in an October 1 letter to Bishop Hanson and the ELCA Conference of Bishops, LCMS President Gerald Kieschnick (pictured) addressed the effect of the ELCA Churchwide Assembly's action regarding clergy in same-sex partnerships on inter-Lutheran ministries:
Bishop Hanson and Conference of Bishops, I share this letter with you to confirm what I have already stated, namely, that this is a very serious matter, one that we cannot ignore. To the greatest extent possible, it would be a blessing to our ongoing cooperative relationships if the actions taken at the ELCA Assembly were not implemented, nor given influence, in the context of inter-Lutheran ministries involving the LCMS and the ELCA, so that these relationships would be neither damaged nor destroyed. Out of deep concern for the people who receive ministry from such organizations and for the continuation of those ministries, I share with you this letter and pray that it will be received in the spirit of fraternal, collegial dialogue with which it is sent.
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ELCA attendees for the CLC included Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson, Secretary David D. Swartling, Vice President Carlos Peņa, Rev. M. Wyvetta Bullock (executive for administration), Rev. Donald McCoid (executive, Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Relations), and Bishop E. Roy Riley of the New Jersey Synod. Among the attendees representing the LCMS were President Rev. Gerald Kieschnick, Secretary Rev. Raymond L. Hartwig, First Vice President Rev. William R. Diekelman, Rev. Samuel Nafzger (director of church relations and assistant to the president), Rev. Joel Lehenbauer (executive director, Commission on Theology and Church Relations), and Ronald Schulz (chief administrative officer).
Also present were representatives of some of the ministries in which the ELCA and LCMS collaborate: Ralston H. Deffenbaugh (former president, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS)), Anne Wilson (LIRS executive vice president), Rev. John Nunes (president, Lutheran World Relief (LWR)), and Jill Schumann (president and chief executive officer, Lutheran Services in America (LSA)).
Observances, Past and Future: Celebrate Bisexuality Day is observed on September 23.
Celebrate Bisexuality Day began in 1999 and on that occasion, the International Lesbian, Gay Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) issue a proclamation which read in part:
On International Celebrate Bisexuality Day, ILGA calls on people, researchers, organizations, services and governments to apply the same respect, recognition and rights to bisexual peoples as they do to any other group of people in society. Around the world today, September 23rd, from the cities of North America to those in Australia, from Japan to Europe and here in Johannesburg, South Africa, bisexual people, their partners, families, friends and their lesbian, transgender, gay and straight allies, are joined in solidarity for the 1st international Celebrate Bisexuality Day.
We apologize for missing this year's observance of Celebrate Bisexuality Day, and we encourage you to celebrate bisexuality throughout the year.
Sunday October 11, 2009 is National Coming Out Day. National Coming Out Day has been observed since 1988 and is now coordinated by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) which provides resources for those making the decision to come out.
National Coming Out Day is also for allies. As noted by our friends at Lutherans Concerned North America (LCNA):
National Coming Out Day provides an excellent opportunity for RIC and other congregations to support LGBT Lutherans as well as the larger LGBT community, by making known their welcome and affirmation. For many LGBT people, communities of faith like the ELCA may have been the source of much pain and hurt earlier in their lives.
Reconciling in Christ and other congregations should tell of their commitment to and promise of full inclusion, now a matter of ELCA policy. The message is for LGBT Lutherans, Christians, those who abandoned churches long ago and the un-churched in your community, as well those supportive allies who wish to be part of a congregation that believes and lives full inclusion.
And don't forget: National Coming Out Day coincides with the National Equality March in Washington, D.C.
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