Eh?: The ordination extra ordinem of Lionel Ketola at Holy Cross in Newmarket, Ontario is scheduled for Friday, May 16. Pr. Ketola is the first pastor from the roster of Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries (ELM) to be called and ordained by a congregation in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC). Throughout the call process, the congregation has consulted with Bishop Michael Pryse of the Eastern Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC). On April 30th, after the vote to call Pr. Ketola, Bishop Michael Pryse of the ELCIC's Eastern Synod informed the congregation that he intended to pursue disciplinary proceedings:
On April 20, 2008, your congregation voted to issue a call to a candidate who has not been approved for ordination through the candidacy processes of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC). This action marks a serious breach of the constitutional obligation of all congregations and rostered persons to "abide loyally by the constitution, administrative bylaws and enactments of this church and those of the synod of which it becomes a part." -- ELCIC Constitution Article VI, Section 3...
When I met with you earlier this year, I clearly detailed the processes I would be obliged to administer in response to this proposed action. Should the service on May 16, 2008 proceed as planned, I will have no choice but to initiate those processes, albeit with a deep and profound sadness.
Unlike the ELCA, the ELCIC has not yet recommended that its bishops refrain from discipline or exercise restraint in working with congregations who feel the church's refusal to acknowledge LGBT clergy is unjust.
In a letter to Bishop Pryse, the congregation responded that it's actions were not undertaken lightly, that they were mindful of their accountability to the ELCIC, and that they were not unprepared to accept the consequences of its decision. The congregation reiterated that it would "faithfully disobey," trusting that it was preferable to "err on the side of grace."
The Sound of One Sabre Rattling: In a pastoral letter dated May 9, Bishop Pryse advised clergy of the Eastern Synod, that clergy participation in the May 16 ordination extra ordinem would be cause for discipline:
I have come to the conclusion that any rostered person who vests for this service and/or participates in a rite of laying on of hands will have chosen to publicly participate in an action that our church prohibits and, as such, would be subject to subsequent disciplinary action.
Our Canadian sources report that since the bishop's pastoral letter more clergy have accepted the invitation to participate in the ordination.
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On Sunday May 4, the Eastern Synod of the ELCIC hosted a Discernment Dinner at St. Stephen's Lutheran Church in Kitchener, Ontario.
Attendees were treated to a presentation about the Lutheran ideas of call and vocation. A four-person panel told how they came to discern their call, and there were representatives from the seminary and the synod to answer questions about the process of becoming an ordained minister.
Attendees were encouraged to bring along a significant other: partner, parent, or pastor.
Two Christians in a Boat: In matters of episcopal authority, Lutherans are likely to get all huffy and start quoting either their favorite church constitution or Luther, especially Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope which has a section titled "The Power and Jurisdiction of Bishops":
[W]hen bishops either become heretical or are unwilling to ordain, the churches are compelled by divine right to ordain pastors and ministers for themselves.
That may be a fine proof text for extra ordinem ordinations, but it's not terribly helpful as a tool for reconciliation
More to the point, we believe, is the anecdote a few lines earlier which Luther attributes to Augustine:
So Augustine tells the story of two Christians in a boat, one of whom baptized the other (a catechumen) and then the latter, having been baptized, absolved the former.
No one was thrown out of the boat.
Special Gay Name Tags: Attendees at this year's Sierra Pacific Synod Assembly report that representatives of the Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries roster were given "special blue name tags" when they registered for the assembly. The blue badges were given only to ELM clergy and identified the wearer by name only with no title to indicate clergy status. At past assemblies, pastors rostered with ELM have received red "visitor" badges. (Clergy from the Presbyterian Church and the Episcopal Church also receive red badges.)
In the spirit of honesty, when asked what her blue badge signified, one ELM pastor said, "It means I'm gay." No more questions were asked.
El Sombrero del Obispo: Our reporter was within earshot when Bishop-elect Pr. Mark Holmerud was asked if he would wear a sombrero during his tenure as bishop of the Sierra Pacific Synod. Pr. Holmerud declared that he would not.
Knowing as we do that the office of bishop often has unpredictable effects on the behavior of those who hold that office, we offer as a public service this artist's conception of Pr. Holmerud wearing a sombrero.
In 2007 Bishop David Mullen wore a sombrero in a synod assembly debate with Pr. Jeff Johnson concerning Pr. Johnson's ineligibility for both clergy and lay positions on the synod council.
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