Church Council to Consider Scandalous Realities: At its April, 2007 meeting, the ELCA Church Council asked its Board Development Committee to coordinate planning for the council's retreat in July 2008 on the topic of "scandalous realities," a reference to the ELCA's strategic commitment to "confront the scandalous realities of racial, ethnic, cultural, religious, age, gender, familial, sexual, physical, personal and class barriers that often manifest themselves in exclusion, poverty, hunger and violence." In the near term the Board Development Committee has been charged with implementing the Council's anti-racism and anti-sexism initiatives.
Goodsoil Memorial to Churchwide Assembly: Friday morning, April 20, 2007, the Sierra Pacific Synod of the ELCA voted overwhelmingly to support the goodsoil memorial on policy change. The synod's action paves the way for the memorial to be considered by the Churchwide Assembly in August. The measure does not change the policy directly, but calls for the appropriate units of the church to take steps to eliminate the policy precluding partnered gay clergy and to shorten reinstatement procedures for those previously removed from the clergy roster.
At Least One Lutheran: On April 17, as a congressional committee began deliberations on HR1592, a bill to move jurisdiction over hate crimes to the federal Justice Department, hundreds of clergy gathered in Washington to urge congressional leaders to support the bill. The group also lobbied Congress to take action on the long-delayed Employment Non-Discrimination Act. Pr. Bradley Schmeling of St. John (Atlanta) is the only ELCA pastor we know for sure was in attendance, but then he has excellent name recognition. For more information about the event, see the Southern Voice. We pray earnestly for the day when official representatives of the ELCA will be free to confront the scandalous reality of hate crimes against LGBT people.
Let the Sunshine In: In addition to the Goodsoil Memorial, the Sierra-Pacific Synod assembly also approved and sent to churchwide a resolution for full disclosure of the cost of disciplinary activities to enforce the celibacy requirement for gay and lesbian clergy. Local supporters dubbed this the "Sunshine Resolution" (not a name we would have chosen, but it's out of our hands) and took the strategic step of separating the memorial for disclosure from a second measure to impose spending limits on these disciplinary activities. The memorial for disclosure passed by a wide margin. An early version of the Sunshine Resolution first appeared here in
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Ten Commandments Day: Mark Your Calendars: The Ten Commandments Commission informs us that the 2nd Annual Ten Commandments Day will be May 6, 2007. We were surprised by this: we thought people had been celebrating the Ten Commandments for thousands of years on Shavuot (observed fifty days after Passover, May 23 this year), the celebration of the giving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai. We tend to celebrate the Ten Commandments on the Christian festival of Pentecost (since the giving of the Spirit coincided with Shavuot). Nevertheless, on May 6 we will dutifully ask, as we do every day, "What does this mean?"
Simple Majority? Super!: There was no ELCA press release for this, but we hear that on April 15, the ELCA Church Council approved "Rules of Organization and Procedure," the recommended procedural rules for the Tenth Churchwide Assembly, August 6-11, 2007.
You may recall that in 2005, there was a lot of wrangling over how big a majority was needed to adopt recommendations of the Sexuality Task Force. Ultimately it was decided that motions arising from the Task Force's recommendation required a two-thirds "supermajority" for adoption.
The Church Council's recommended procedures for the 2007 Churchwide Assembly include no supermajority provision for motions directing amendments to Definitions and Guidelines, Vision and Expectations, and the policy on reinstatement to the rosters of the ELCA. Of course, the Church Council's recommended procedures must be approved by the Assembly and may be amended before approval. Adoption of the rules requires two-thirds approval.
Oh, No! Size Really Does Matter: The latest offering from Word Alone ("Honey, We Shrunk the Lord!") reads like a piece of campaign literature. Pr. Jaynan Clark Egland lays claim to a centrist position, charging that the extremes of "literalism" and "social activism" both result in "a little itty bitty Jesus." (Ouch!)
Pr. Egland writes: You can grow a denomination or federation or even a local congregation by selling an extremely shrunken version of the Christian "good news." Choosing to do so can be accomplished either by being so literal that Jesus the Living Word is trumped by words only on paper or by being so relative in outlook that Jesus is left as one among many helpful spiritual gurus and social activists. Either is an extreme position--whether intentionally or mistakenly--increasing the power of the institution while shrinking the Living Lord to an improper place under human ambition.
My Lord's bigger than your Lord? Whatever happened to carping about "failed mission strategy"?
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