Risk Averse 1: Word Alone has announced that its November theological conference will be focused on the theme of the two opposing gospels in the ELCA under the title, "A Different Gospel--Christianity at Risk."
This follows "Defending the Faith" Word Alone's annual convention to be held April 13-14 at Calvary Lutheran Church in Golden Valley, Minn. Keynote speakers are Dr. James Kallas from Agua Dulce, Calif., and Pastor Gary Jepsenfrom Puyallup, Wash.

Luther Goes Global?: February 21-23, 2008 Northwestern University will host The Global Luther, a conference to address "aspects of Luther's life and thought that are of global significance and continue to be of global relevance today."
We hope this goes well, and it's exciting that attendees will have the opportunity to hear Bishop Munib Younan (Evangelical Lutheran Church, Jordan) as well as fellow keynote speakers Peter C. Hodgson andRisto Saarinen .
We're a bit worried, however, that speakers from
Harvard University,
Vanderbilt University,
Capital University,
Center of Ecumenical Research, Strasbourg,
University of Notre Dame,
LWF (Geneva),
Northwestern University,
McGill University,
Rutgers University,
Waterloo Lutheran Seminary,
University of Jena,
University of Helsinki,
Uppsala University,
University of Tubingen,
and Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago may not be best authorities to assess Luther's global significance.
Proceedings of the conference will be published as a volume entitled The Global Luther: Theologian for Modern Times by Fortress Press.

Schismatic Baptism: Risto Saariinen (one of the Global Luther keynote speakers) has recently gained a bit of recent notoriety for questioning the validity of schismatic baptism. This is not purely a matter of historical interest (see the Donatist Controversy). Saarinen's comments were made in a discussion of the contemporary Finnish churches that disregard the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland's endorsement of the ordination of women. (A brief English summary by Wille Huuskonen has appeared on several blogs.
Saarinen argues that to be valid, a baptism must be a baptism into local church membership. The Finnish churches that deny women's ordination are served by pastors from Sweden's Mission Province who lack the civil authority to add those baptized as members of the ELCF.

Risk Averse 2: This is old news, but it was new to us. In 2007, the West Adrian UCC in Adrian, Michigan was denied a quote for insurance coverage because of the United Church of Christ (UCC) policies supporting same-gender marriage equality and the ordination of gay clergy.
"Our company's decision to not submit a quote to your organization arose out of information that was supplied in a supplemental application, indicating that your organization 'publicly endorses or practices the marriage of same-sex couples' and 'publicly endorses or practices the ordination of the homosexual clergy,'"


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Pr. Sophie is all a-Twitter. Again.
Pr. Sophie's Tweets:

    Hot Dish Hotline: "We cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard." What have you seen or heard that other people really need to know about? Use the Hot Dish Hotline to submit your item online.

    wrote Marci J. Fretz, a regional underwriter for Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Company., in a letter to the church.
    West Adrian UCC, founded in 1836, has about 100 members and is not listed among the nearly 700 UCC churches that have publicly adopted an "open and affirming " position with regard to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons.
    Founded in 1917 by members of the Defenseless Mennonite Church (now the Fellowship of Evangelical Churches, Brotherhood Mutual's initial mission was to help fellow Mennonites protect themselves from property damages caused by fires and storms. In 90 years, the company has gown to be one of the nation's leading insurers of churches and related ministries, providing insurance to 30,000 congregations in 29 states and the District of Columbia.
    The company explained in a letter:
    "[Brotherhood Mutual has] an obligation to serve as stewards of our policyholder's funds, and to avoid knowingly insuring organizations that are at higher risk of loss based on the controversial positions that they have taken."
    Read the whole story by J. Bennett Guess at UCC News.

    Ask Pr. Sophie: Pr. Sophie Fortresson, our resident expert on all matters of theology, Lutheran etiquette, and social protocol, answers questions submitted by our readers and occasionally simply volunteers advice when no question has been asked. If you have questions (and who among us doesn't?) send them to pr_sophie@lutheranconfessions.com.
    Dear Sophie We too have abstained from ELCA communion for many years since an incident at Holden Village when we were on staff there. We decided that until we were welcome on both sides of the table it was disingenuous to continue as if everything is ok. Nothing else seems to get their attention re: the message they send to GLBTQ members of this church. The policies are pushing people away from the church and the table. Yes the intent of communion is to bring all together but it is way too hypocritical to pretend that the gathering welcomes all - it does not. We do partake at events and places where GLBTQ persons are equally welcome on both sides of the table. ELCA Refugees in VT

    Dear Readers: As the letter from the Vermont refugees indicates, Pr. Sophie has once again waded right into the thick of it, and this time there is more at stake than last year's breast pocket fashion faux pas. The fundamental issue is "Should we boycott communion at ELCA events while the church continues its policy of discrimination based on sexual preference and gender identity?"
    This is a tough question, and Pr. Sophie is not going to resolve it in the next 100 or so words. Naturally, however, she will make a couple of observations and hope that they are helpful.
    First, there are people of good conscience on both sides of this question: some believe it is a duty to abstain from a Eucharist that is less welcoming than it ought to be. Others believe that there must be some way other than abstinence to recall the ELCA to its mission, though what that way is may not be clear. Both groups believe there is something wrong with current ELCA policy.
    Where you stand on this issue might be determined by how important the ELCA is to you: abstainers, Pr. Sophie opines, are likely to be people who hope earnestly for the reformation of the ELCA. The Eucharist at an ELCA event will not be the Eucharist until the church has changed. Non-abstainers, on the other hand, are likely to believe that the Eucharist will be the Eucharist regardless of church policy.
    The Vermont refugees are right to emphasize the lack of equality "on both sides of the table," though here again there are different opinions. Pr. Sophie believes that we create those sides of the table with our attitudes toward the ordained ministry. For some of us there is a clear and important demarcation between this side and that side, between celebrant and communicant. For others, however, the demarcations are not so clear and those who gather at the altar do not stand on one side or another, but around a table that has no sides.

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