Core Issues: Did you know that in 2005, 15 synods memorialized the Churchwide Assembly to make ending world hunger a "core conviction" of the ELCA? That same year, 13 synods memorialized Churchwide to re-affirm the ELCA's anti-racism work.
Anyone who knows those numbers might justified in thinking that a topic on which more than 20 synods memorialize churchwide is in fact a core justice issue in the ELCA. This year 21 (or according to some 23 or even 24) synods memorialized churchwide to end discrimination against clergy in same-sex partnerships.
Refer Madness: The ELCA Memorials Committee, which has the daunting task of organizing memorials from all the ELCA Synods so the Churchwide Assembly can act on them efficiently and knowledgeably, has issued its report for the 2007 Churchwide assembly.
Faced with memorials from 21 synods to end discrimination against partnered gay clergy, the 14-member memorials committee voted (unanimously? probably not, but no one needs to know that, do they?) that these memorials be referred to the Task Force for ELCA Studies on Sexuality, urging the task force to consider this as "information" for its ongoing, ongoing, ongoing, ongoing "discernment and deliberation" for a possible social statement on sexuality in 2009, maybe.
Apparently the rationale for referral is that policy change "should" be based on a social statement so there's something for the policy to be consistent with.
Did you know that the ELCA's discriminatory policy was enacted from the top down, that is, without the approval of a churchwide assembly, and with virtually no concern for the creation of a social statement to justify discriminating against pastors in same-sex partnerships?
Rootage and Pottage: From An Open Letter to Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson from Bishop Emeritus George Paul Mocko:
"So next we launch into a study on the authority of Scripture, which, excuse me, early signs are that it will tell us that we can continue to claim that Scripture is the 'source and norm of our faith and life,' as we clearly brush aside Scripture and turn to other sources and norms. We are preparing to sell our birthright as the foremost biblical theologians of the West for the pottage of this culture's approval, as we accommodate to its desires and demands in its extraordinary and overwhelming obsession with, and, worship of sex. What hubris possesses this generation to think it is qualified to rewrite the teaching of what has been the faith for 2,000 years, and a thousand before that.
If we succeed in doing this, we will sacrifice the credibility of all our teaching. The very thing that has made our teaching notable has been its solid rootage in Scripture. Make that optional, take it away, and, who cares what we say about anything? (Emphasis added.)
Let the Sun Shine In!: The Report of ELCA Memorials Committee also recommends that the churchwide assembly "decline to adopt" the "sunshine resolution" to which we are partial because it originated here. The sunshine resolution asks for disclosure of the cost of disciplinary actions against clergy in same-sex partnerships. How much of the ELCA's money would you spend to defrock a gay pastor? Sloth Never Looked So Good: If you're going to do nothing, you might as well do it in style. Tell the world you aren't afraid to sin boldy by slipping into the Official LutheranConfessions.com T-SHIRT! Be the Life of the Party:
The report maintains that the cost to churchwide is "minimal" (indeed? and how did the Memorials Committee come by that information?), that there's a "shared risk" fund (so discipine hearings are paid for with free money?), and that there haven't been many actual trials (three, and the most recent one probably cost the ELCA $200,000). Oh, by the way, "Disclosure of individual line items in unit budgets, as the memorial requests, would set an unfortunate precedent of micro-management of the churchwide organization budget."
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Sloth Never Looked So Good: If you're going to do nothing, you might as well do it in style. Tell the world you aren't afraid to sin boldy by slipping into the Official LutheranConfessions.com T-SHIRT!
Be the Life of the Party:
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Well, we couldn't agree more, but the cost of individual trials is not a budget line item, and the proposed memorial simply asks that these costs be made public so members of this church can decide just how dear to them this policy might be.
The Dilemma of a Bishop: Bishop-elect Wayne Miller of the Metropolitan Chicago Synod looks forward to the lifting of the ELCA's celibacy requirement for gay and lesbian clergy. "That's where I think the church is going. That's where I think it needs to go," he said in the July 25 Chicago Sun-Times. Pr. Miller, who begins his term as bishop on Sept. 1, hopes the change will come at the August Churchwide Assembly, and acknowledged that if the policy is not changed, he would feel the tension between his personal beliefs and his vows as bishop to uphold the policies of the church.
"That is the dilemma of a bishop at this particular moment in history," he said.
Innuendo!: The latest missive (Innuendo - Out of the mouth of babes) from Pr. Jaynan Clark Egland, President of Word Alone is all about one of our favorite words innuendo, which she finds in The Bible Reads Sinners, a recent article in The Lutheran:
...I was in the video store with my children consulting the rating of a movie and wondering if it was appropriate for the whole family to view I heard my 13-year-old daughter read aloud, "Rated for intense action, some violence, brief strong language and innuendo." She turned and asked me, "What is innuendo, Mom?" I explained that it was a suggestion of something but didn't really show it. Later we went home and looked it up in the dictionary to find the definition to be, "An indirect or subtle and usually derogatory implication in expression,insinuation."
Having just read the article in The Lutheran and thinking to myself that it contained "innuendo" that was derogatory in its implication, I read to my daughter the above-mentioned section to which she commented, "They want to make you look like a bunch of old, grumpy people."
I went on and read to her the other portion that bothered me toward the end of the article in the subsection entitled "Reform efforts." "WordAlone says it wants to reform the ELCA in a number of ways, . . ." Then there is another laundry list that is quite becoming and accurate regarding the goals of WordAlone but as our 13-year-old child pointed out in her hearing of these words, "They want people to think you are liars who 'say' you are trying to reform the ELCA but they don't think you are."
She learned, by living it, what innuendo is and how derogatory it really can be. Out of the mouths of babes our Lord speaks clearly to us across His church. While what is said is important, how it is said and what is left unsaid is revealing. We may sometimes believe that even bad press is better than no press at all . . . yet, the time for a corrective on such invective is now.
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