The Wandering Call Letter: For a couple of months after her ordination on November 18, 2006, the exact whereabouts of Pr. Megan Rohrer's call letter were unknown. Everyone remembered that there had been a duly signed letter of call at Megan's ordination in November, 2006, but no one, it seemed, knew what had become of it after the ordination service. In February, Megan writes, the call letter finally came home.
Apparently Pr. Daniel Solberg (dean of the San Francisco Conference) who officiated at Megan's ordination had put the letter of call in his service folder. The service folder was shared with his sister, Mary Solberg (pictured), a theologian at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota. When the service folder was eventually opened, the call letter was discovered, and after the siblings exchanged a suitable number of jibes, the letter was returned to Megan.
A First for LLGM: In February Pr. Mike Wilker, Director of the Lutheran Volunteer Corps (LVC), was chosen to fill the vacancy created when Greg Egertson retired. Pr. Wilker is the first heterosexual person to serve as co-chair of Lutheran Lesbian and Gay Ministries (LLGM).
Historically, LLGM has selected a gay man and a lesbian woman to for the co-chair roles on the LLGM board. Pr. Wilker will serve until the re-organization of LLGM, ECP and the ECP roster is complete later this year.
Hope Springs Eternal: Maybe they're just optimistic after all these years or maybe they're upset at the prospect of yet another churchwide assembly considering the role of gay and lesbian pastors in the ELCA, but whatever the reason, Word Alone, in an article by board member Prof. Mary Jane Haemig (pictured), is encouraging synod assemblies to memorialize churchwide to repeal the eight-year-old Call to Common Mission (CCM) agreement between the ELCA and the Episcopal Church.
Citing the decline in ELCA membership from 5.1 million to 4.9 million over the time the agreement has been in place, Word Alone would have us believe that CCM is a "mission strategy" that has "failed" and has cost the ELCA hundreds of thousands of dollars by requiring extra duties (and travel) of bishops.
The draft memorial Word Alone has published borrows shamelessly (and unconvincingly) from the LutheranConfessions.com resolution regarding the expense of disciplinary proceedings. Word Alone estimates that CCM costs about $50,000 per year. The ELCA spent about 3 times that amount this year in a single disciplinary hearing to remove a partnered gay pastor from the ELCA roster.
If they're serious about freeing up money for mission work, perhaps Word Alone should join the effort to de-prioritize the enforcement of the ELCA's celibacy requirement for gay and lesbian clergy.
Appeals: Pr. Bradley Schmeling has formally appealed the disciplinary ruling that would remove him from the ELCA's clergy roster in August of this year. Pr. Schmeling is a gay man in a committed relationship with another man. Southeastern Synod Bishop Ron Warren undertook disciplinary action to have Pr. Schmeling removed from the roster. While the Disciplinary Hearing Committee did vote to defrock Pr. Schmeling, their decision also encouraged continued consideration of the matter in the appeals process and at the churchwide assembly.
As yet there has been no announcement on Central Great Lakes Synod Bishop Thorvald Noe-Effingway's plans to appeal the acquitttal of transgender pastor Sophie Fortresson.
What Does This Mean?: The appeal process is described in the
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Pr. Sophie is all a-Twitter. Again.
Pr. Sophie's Tweets:
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deathless prose of the ELCA Constitution. The relevant sections are 20.62.1 and 20.62.2:
The circumstances for which the Committee on Appeals may reverse or set aside the decision of a discipline hearing committee and the consequences of such action shall be set forth in the bylaws.
20.62.01. The judgment of a discipline hearing committee must be sustained unless the Committee on Appeals finds that one of the following conditions exists:
a. The discipline hearing committee abused its discretion. The discipline hearing committee may not be found to have abused its discretion unless at least one of the following is true:
b. Due process has not been followed.
c. New evidence has been submitted by one of the parties, which evidence, in the judgment of the Committee on Appeals, should be considered.
d. The record of the proceedings before the discipline hearing committee is insufficient to permit the Committee on Appeals to determine whether the committee abused its discretion or followed due process.
20.62.2 When the Committee on Appeals has decided to reverse or set aside the decision of the discipline hearing committee, the Committee on Appeals shall proceed as follows:
a. If the Committee on Appeals has determined that one of the conditions listed in 20.62.01.a.1) or 20.62.01.a.2) exists, the Committee on Appeals may return the matter to the discipline hearing committee for further proceedings or render its own decision, which shall be final and unappealable.
b. If the Committee on Appeals has determined that the condition listed in 20.62.01.a.3) exists, it shall render its own decision, which shall be final and unappealable.
c. If the Committee on Appeals has determined that one of the conditions listed in 20.62.01.b., 20.62.01.c., or 20.62.01.d. exists, it shall return the matter to the discipline hearing committee for further proceedings.
An Ounce of Prevention: Trustees of the Evangelical LutheranChurch in America (ELCA) Board of Pensions approved a proposal to move the church's health plan toward a wellness plan. The trustees met in Chicago Feb. 23-25 and took several actions, including proposed plan amendments for 2008 that will put greater emphasis on preventing illness and avoiding health risks.
"I'm very excited about the changes in our medical plan,"said John G. Kapanke, president, ELCA Board of Pensions. "The move from a disease model to a wellness model is a major step for this church in our emphasis on overall health and wellness.
"I continue to believe the emphasis on health and wellness for our leadership is one of the most critical strategic issues for this church. If we are successful in training and equipping our leaders and our future leaders to be healthy leaders,"Kapanke said, "this church will be stronger in the future."
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