Living in Communion: The General Secretary of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), Rev. Dr Ishmael Noko encouraged LWF member churches to focus on inclusive dialogue around issues of marriage, family and sexuality and thereby avoid the threat of division over these issues.
Noko made the remarks in Lund, Sweden during a press conference at the opening of an eight-day LWF Council Meeting that will include a Church Leadership Consultation and celebrations to mark the 60th anniversary of the LWF.
"Living in Communion in the World Today" is the theme for these events.
Responding to a question on the issue of polygamy, Noko emphasized the need to engage broader aspects of marriage and family, saying polygamy was one of many concerns to be taken up in a communion-wide discussion. An LWF task force will present to this year's Council a report titled "The Proposed Guidelines and Processes for Respectful Dialogue" to help member churches discuss changing realities of marriage, family and sexuality in the world today. The task force was appointed by the LWF Council in 2004 and the general secretary stressed that its objective is not to give a Lutheran position on marriage, family and sexuality, but to provide guidelines for member churches to engage in discussion around this issue.
Just How Sour Are Those Grapes?: A statement dated March 16, 2007 appeared on the Southeastern Synod Web site clarifying the "cross-appeal" submitted by Bishop Ron Warren on March 9.
Bishop Warren asks the ELCA's Committee on Appeals ("CoA") to affirm the DHC's decision to remove Pr. Schmeling from the clergy roster, a decision that was within the DHC's authority under the ELCA Constitution, By-Laws and Continuing Resolutions ("CBCR").
Bishop Warren's cross-appeal also asks the CoA to rule that the DHC exceeded its authority on two issues raised in its decision: (1) that the DHC exceeded its authority by staying its decision to remove Pastor Schmeling from the ordained clergy roster, a power given only to the Committee on Appeals; and (2) that the DHC exceeded its authority by making policy recommendations to the Churchwide Assembly, another prerogative limited by the ELCA's governing documents to the Committee on Appeals.
Finally, concurrent with his Notice of Cross-Appeal, Bishop Warren asked the Committee on Appeals to provide an appellate briefing schedule which would give the CoA time to reach and publish its decision in advance of the ELCA Churchwide Assembly ("CWA") in August 2007. Pastor Schmeling has requested the CoA to delay any briefing or decision until after the CWA has concluded. Bishop Warren's cross-appeal and proposed schedule, however, provide the CoA with the opportunity to provide its conclusions on this case as part of churchly deliberation in advance of the Churchwide Assembly.
Remember 1990: Bishop Warren's appeal seems unaware of the precedent set in 1990 by the Hearing Committee that expelled St. Francis and First United (both in San Francisco) from the ELCA. That Committee's decision was also critical of the policy that caused the churches to be expelled, and in the hope that the policy would change, the committee imposed a
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five year stay on the expulsion of the two churches.
What Would Brian Boitano Do?: We have never fully understood Anglican polity, but the Council of the General Synod (CoGS) of the Anglican Church of Canada has decided that resolutions on "sexuality issues" will require a 60% majority for approval in either the General Synod or in individual dioceses. This is a less stringent requirement than is recommended by the Primate's Theological Commission: the commission urges that issues like the blessing of same-sex unions be decided by changes in canon law. Canon law changes require two-thirds majority at two successive synods. See the Anglican Journal for details.
Solid Ground Unglued: The Solid Ground Lutherans in Canada seem mightily upset by the Anglican Council of the General Synod's decision. They've taken a cue from Virtue Online ("The Voice for Global Orthodox Anglicanism") and accused Canada's Anglican leaders of "promoting Same-Sex Blessings." Wow.
And in Minnesota: Pre-assembly packets are out in the SW Minnesota Synod and there's a carefully worded resolution about "Maintaining the Synod's Policy Against the Blessing of Same-Sex Unions" from Pr. Steven King of Holy Cross Lutheran in Maple Lake.
We don't think there is a synod policy that prohibits the blessing of same-sex unions, and indeed, all the assertions of such a policy are in the WHEREAS-es. In the RESOLVEDs it's all nudge, nudge, wink wink. To wit:
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Southwestern Minnesota Synod Assembly affirm with the Churchwide Assembly and with our own Synod Bishop that our synod will "maintain our current standards" and be "guided by the '93 statement of the Conference of Bishops" by not establishing, creating, or approving of "an official ceremony of this church for the blessing of a homosexual relationship" and by not authorizing its pastors to conduct such ceremonies "as an official action of this church's ministry";
Perhaps in Minnesota everything not commanded is forbidden.
Far Flung Tipster: And one of our readers in Japan sends a pointer to Lutheran Church Basement Women: Lutefisk, Lefse, Lunch and Jell-O, Janet Letnes Martin and Allen Todnem, Redbird Productions, 1992, where you can learn about:
- Lutheran Jell-O and the secrets of how to make it "Lutheran"
- How to make a tried and true "dead spread" for funerals
- How to tie safe and proper knots in dishtowels for hotdishes, scarves and aprons
- Why Lutherans call their desserts "bars" (apparently involving an obscure chapter from the life of Martin Luther.
The chapter entitled "Cocktails," we hear, is very short.
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