The View from Elk River: On November 6, the Elk River Star News reported that Central Lutheran in Elk River, MN would hold a congregational meeting on November 8 to decide what is relationship to the ELCA should be.
The distinctive thing in the Star News report was that John Froelich, a member of the congregation had taken on the task of collecting resources and documenting why the congregation should not leave the ELCA. More importantly, Mr. Froelich published the material he collected on the web: http://keepcentralelca.com.
Mr. Froelich took on one of the central fallacies of Christian homophobia in article titled Hate the Sin, but Love the Sinner. It reads in part:
Sometimes it takes a long time to understand what is not right. "Hate the sin, but love the sinner!" The crux of the problem! The very moment that we say "Hate the sin…" we find ourselves having judged the heart of another. By saying "Hate the sin…" we have ignored the advice we find written in Romans 2. It is only by giving in to our pride that we allow ourselves to be the judge, to believe we can know with certainty who can accept God’s grace.
On November 8, Central Lutheran voted 574 - 171 to move ahead with terminating its relationship with the ELCA. Mr. Froehlich's web site is still up, and we commend it to you.
Clergy for Marriage Equality: We noticed an October 30 article in the Washington Post about clergy in Washington D.C. organizing to support same-sex marriage. About 200 clergy from various denomnations have formed Clergy United for Marriage Equality and have published a petition titled Declaration of Religious Support for Marriage Equality. The petition reads in part:
We declare that our faith calls us to affirm marriage equality for loving same-sex couples.
Our religious traditions and scriptures teach us that wherever love is present, God is also present. One of God's greatest gifts to us is our human capacity to love one another. The ability of two people to enter into relationships and form families of love and care is one expression of this gift. It is holy and good. We therefore affirm the right of loving same-gender couples to enter into such relationships on an equal basis with loving heterosexual couples.
At this writing, 196 clergy have signed the declaration. Six of them are Lutheran.
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Bound, Confessing, and Resisting: The WordAlone Network theological conference will be held November 15-17 at Roseville Lutheran Church in Roseville MN (a suburb of St. Paul). The conference theme is Bound to Confess and Resist and among the presentations are Status Confessionis — Its History and Use, It is neither safe nor right to go against conscience, and The Necessity of Resistance in 2009.
Registration material is available in the conference brochure.
Is Your Bishop Truly Gifted?: William Baum, President and CEO for life of Take My Bishop, Please!, writes to let us know that the Facebook application Take My Bishop, Please!, launched in March, 2009, has now been used more than 13,000 times to give a bishop (from a pool of mostly ELCA bishops) to some deserving person. Apparently Facebook users are trading bishops with wild abandon. We wonder how many people have collected the entire set.
If YouTube is more to your taste, the hardworking staff at Take My Bishop, Please! have also produced a video.
Not the Old Hat: October 31, 2009 was the 10th anniversary of the signing of the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification, and Rev. Dr. Ishmael Noko (General Secretary of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) and Walter Cardinal Kasper, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity (PCPCU), observed the occasion in Augsburg. We find the remarks of the two leaders instructive.
Rev. Dr. Noko said:
The mutual condemnations from the past remain a part of our history; that history cannot be changed. Ten years ago, in this city of Augsburg, we said that these memories of separation and hostility would not be the memories of our children.
Even when we disagree with one another, even when our remaining difficulties are irreconcilable, the very sharpness of our disappointment shows the new quality of our relationship.
Cardinal Kasper remarked:
We do not need to reinvent ecumenism. It has been successful as consensus ecumenism and it shall remain so. It builds on the consensus that remains between our churches, despite all painful divisions: the confessing of one Lord Jesus Christ as the one Savior and Mediator between God and us human beings, as testified to in Scripture and our common Apostolic Creed.
That is not the old hat nor is it a matter of splitting theological hairs. That is the Christian response to the questions about the ultimate meaning, happiness, and where we come from and where we are going in life.
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