An Exemption?: Eyebrows will surely be raised at the interpretation of ELCA policy offered by Jeff Strickler in a Minneapolis Star Tribune article about the ordination extra ordinem of Jen Nagel at Salem Lutheran Church on January 19:
You only have a few more hours to call Jen Nagel Jen. After her ordination at 2 p.m. today, you have to start calling her the Rev. Nagel -- unless you're a member of the national board of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), in which case you probably don't want to call her at all.
Nagel is being ordained despite being committed to a same-sex relationship. The national ELCA doesn't approve of the ordination of gay ministers. But an exemption in the bylaws was passed at the national convention in August allowing local synods to not object to such ordinations, which is what is happening -- or not happening, depending on how you interpret all of this -- with Nagel.

We have to wonder if encouraging bishops and synods to refrain from discipline is really the same thing as an "exemption".

A Departure: On January 16, the Presbytery of San Francisco voted 167 - 151 to approve Lisa Larges' application for ordination with a departure. Lisa Larges is has been denied approval twice before because she is a lesbian and church policy recognizes only those in heterosexual marriages or those who are sexually abstinent as candidates for pastoral offices.
In 2006, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church put forward an "Authorized Interpretation" (AI) of the church's policy to allow approval of candidates who "departed" for reasons of conscience from the church's standard if the departures did not constitute "a failure to adhere to the essentials of Reformed faith and polity." The San Francisco Presbytery is the first to use this process.
A lifelong Presbyterian, Lisa Larges is a Minnesota native who now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is a graduate of St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn., and San Francisco Theological Seminary. Since 2002 She has served as the Regional Partnership Coordinator for That All May Freely Serve (TAMFS) working for ordination of qualified gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender candidates in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) as elders, deacons and ministers.

An Inhibition: "I hereby inhibit the said Bishop Schofield and order that from and after 5:00 p.m. PST, Friday, January 11, 2008, he cease from exercising the gifts of ordination in the ordained ministry of this Church; and pursuant to Canon IV.15, I order him from and after that time to cease all 'episcopal, ministerial, and canonical acts, except as relate to the administration of the temporal affairs of the Diocese of San Joaquin,' until this Inhibition is terminated pursuant to Canon IV.9(2) or superseded by decision of the House of Bishops."
And so Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori


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    "inhibited" Bishop John-David Schofield of the Diocese of San Joaquin. The inhibition was undertaken after the Title IV Review Committee certified that Bishop Schofield had abandoned the communion of the Episcopal Church, and three senior bishops gave permission to proceed with the inhibition.
    On December 8, 2007, Bishop Schofield presided over the Diocese's decision to sever ties with the Episcopal Church and join the Province of the Southern Cone of the Anglican Communion.The dioceses or Pittsburgh and Fort Worth are considering similar decisions. The Title IV Review Committee also certified that Bishop Robert Duncan of the Pittsburgh diocese had abandoned the Episcopal communion, but the bishops have not yet approved an inhibition for Bishop Duncan.
    Initially conflicting responses were issued in response to the inhibition. Initially a ppublic mrelations firm speaking on Bishop Schofield's behalf asserted that Bishop Schofield was a member of the House of Bishops in both the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone. A clarification was later issued, asserting that the Diocese of San Joaquin and Bishop Schofield were no longer affiliated with the Episcopal Church and that the Episcopal Presiding Bishop had no jurisdiction in the matter.
    Fort Worth Bishop Jack Iker also responded:
    The House of Bishops of TEC can indeed prevent Bishop Schofield from functioning as a bishop in congregations of The Episcopal Church. However, they cannot invalidate his consecration as a Bishop in the Church of God, nor prevent him from functioning as such in congregations that welcome and affirm his ministry as their Bishop.

    RIC Sunday, January 27: The fourth Sunday in January is recognized by the ecumenical welcoming community as Welcoming Sunday, though of course it's okay to be welcoming any time. On this day, congregations are encouraged to celebrate the witness to God's love for persons of all sexual orientations and gender identities.This year, Kate Stoeckel, a Lutheran Volunteer Corps Intern working with Lutherans Concerned (LCNA), has compiled resources for the occasion.

    Boswell Lecture: In 1983 John Boswell published Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality, and twenty-five years later The Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies in Religion and Ministry (CLGS) hosted a conference at the Pacific School of Religion (PSR) to mark acknowlege that work and establish the John E. Boswell Lectureship Fund to support excellence in LGBTQ religious scholarship by bringing pioneering scholars to the PSR campus to share their latest research. CLGS is pleased to announce that the inaugural Boswell Lecture will be delivered April 30, 2008 by Dale Martin (pictured), the Woolsey Professor of Religious Studies at Yale University. Professor Martin is the author of, among other books, "The Corinthian Body," "Inventing Superstition: from the Hippocratics to the Christians," and "Sex and the Single Savior: Gender and Sexuality in Biblical Interpretation."

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