Lionel Ketola Is Ordained!: On Friday evening, May 16, about 400 people including roughly 40 vested clergy, participated in a rite of ordination to confer the office of minister of Word and Sacrament upon Lionel Ketola. Pr. Ketola has been called to serve Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Newmarket, Ontario. Because Pr. Ketola is a gay man and because the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) denies ordination to "self-professed practising homosexuals", the ordination was performed extra ordinem. Pr. Ketola is the fourteenth person since 1990 to be ordained extra ordinem to the Lutheran ministry. He is the first to be ordained in the ELCIC.
Pr. Ketola was first endorsed for ministry in 1986 and was admitted to Lutheran Theological Seminary in Saskatoon. He was removed from candidacy in 1988 because he acknowledged being a gay man in a relationship. He received the M.Div. degree in 1990. He was approved for candidacy by Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries (ELM) in 2004.
Outlaw Ordination Notes: Our "ears on the ground" at Lionel Ketola's ordination report a festive mood, aided in no small measure by the excellent saxophone playing of Michael Hackbusch. We don't know whose arrangement of Amazing Grace was used in the pre-service music, but more than one reporter made a point of praising it.
During the sermon, Pr. Dawn Hutchings asked the members of Holy Cross to stand. They were saluted with about 5 minutes of sustained applause.
Americans in attendance were surprised to find the office of beadle (Andre Lavergne) listed among the ordination participants. Historically the beadle is "a parish constable, one often charged with duties of charity."
Donning "lone ranger" style masks for photos after the service, some of the assembled clergy provided a moment of comic relief from fears over Bishop Michael Pryse's decision that participating clergy could be subject to discipline. A number of clergy were present in the congregation, but did not vest or participate.
In a May 16 letter to the congregation, Bishop Pryse offered the assurance of his "continued love and collegial friendship":
Although we may not be able to support one another in all our respective decisions, I pray that God will continue to grant us the grace required to honour the bonds of love and mutual respect that bind us to one another. Please know that my prayers remain with you this day and all days. May your bold and committed ministry to the community continue to be marked with the signs of God's love, and may the Lord grant us all strength and peace in the days ahead.
Time and the Man: Right man, wrong time is the "spin" being attributed to ELCIC Presiding Bishop Susan Johnson (pictured) and Eastern Synod Bishop Michael Pryse concerning on Canada's first extra ordinem ordination. Sinfully Delicious: You'll be the envy of everyone in your lectionary study group, and your Fair Trade Coffee will be sinfully delicious because you're drinking it from the Official LutheranConfessions.com MUG! Be the Life of the Party:
None of the bishops has called into question Pr. Ketola's talent for ministry. Instead they focus on the acceptability to the church of ordaining a gay man. In Bishop Pryse's words:
Most members of our church aren't going to be happy about this. I think people have come a whole long way, and I think people who are really out front on [this issue] ... sometimes they lose sight of that.
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Sinfully Delicious: You'll be the envy of everyone in your lectionary study group, and your Fair Trade Coffee will be sinfully delicious because you're drinking it from the Official LutheranConfessions.com MUG!
Be the Life of the Party:
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In her remarks during the ordination service, Emily Eastwood, Executive Director for Lutherans Concerned North America, recalled the 30-year struggle of LGBT people for acceptance in Canada's Lutheran church and responded, "Right man, right time. Right now."
A different perspective emerged in a forum topic (Sigh...) at the American Lutheran Pubilicity Bureau (ALPB), and while we might disagree with some of the commentary, we believe an important question is raised there: how would anyone know when the "right" time has arrived?
Pr. Sophie knows what you're thinking, and she says shame on you for all those "when it's someone else's responsibility" thoughts.
Pentecost Indaba: In a Pentecost letter to Bishops of the Anglican Communion, Dr. Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, advised that there will be some changes to the format of this year's Lambeth Conference:
We have listened carefully to those who have expressed their difficulties with Western and parliamentary styles of meeting, and the Design Group has tried to find a new style -- a style more reflective of that Pentecost moment when all received the gift of speaking freely about Christ.
At the heart of this will be the indaba groups. Indaba is a Zulu word describing a meeting for purposeful discussion among equals. Its aim is not to negotiate a formula that will keep everyone happy but to go to the heart of an issue and find what the true challenges are before seeking God's way forward. It is a method with parallels in many cultures, and it is close to what Benedictine monks and Quaker Meetings seek to achieve as they listen quietly together to God, in a community where all are committed to a fellowship of love and attention to each other and to the word of God.
Each day's work in this context will go forward with careful facilitation and preparation, to ensure that all voices are heard (and many languages also!). The hope is that over the two weeks we spend together, these groups will build a level of trust that will help us break down the walls we have so often built against each other in the Communion. And in combination with the intensive prayer and fellowship of the smaller Bible study groups, all this will result, by God's grace, in clearer vision and discernment of what needs to be done.As I noted when I wrote to you in Advent, this makes it all the more essential that those who come to Lambeth will arrive genuinely willing to engage fully in that growth towards closer unity that the Windsor Report and the Covenant Process envisage. We hope that people will not come so wedded to their own agenda and their local priorities that they cannot listen to those from other cultural backgrounds. As you may have gathered, in circumstances where there has been divisive or controversial action, I have been discussing privately with some bishops the need to be wholeheartedly part of a shared vision and process in our time together.
Lambeth Conferences are held every ten years. The 2008 conference is scheduled for July 16-August 4 at the University of Kent in Canterbury, England.
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