Presbyterians Propose Changes to G-6.0106b: On June 27 the 218th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) voted 380-325 to send a proposed constitutional amendment to the denomination’s 173 presbyteries. The proposed amendment would delete the current paragraph G-6.0106b (which requires church officers to live in “fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman or chastity in singleness”) in the Book of Order and replace it with a new G-6.0106b that emphasizes assent to ordination vows without singling out a sexual conduct standard. The new version of G-0106b reads:
Those who are called to ordained service in the church, by their assent to the constitutional questions for ordination and installation (W-4.4003), pledge themselves to live lives obedient to Jesus Christ the Head of the Church, striving to follow where he leads through the witness of the Scriptures, and to understand the Scriptures through the instruction of the Confessions. In so doing, they declare their fidelity to the standards of the Church. Each governing body charged with examination for ordination and/or installation (G-14.0240 and G-14.0450) establishes the candidate’s sincere efforts to adhere to these standards.
To become effective, the proposed amendment must be now be ratified by a simple majority of the presbyteries. Two previous attempts to delete G-0106b (in 1997 and 2000) were defeated when referred to the presbyteries.
The General Assembly's action has been interpreted in various ways: Presbyterian Group OKs Gay Clergy, Presbyterians Vote to Drop Ban on Gay Ordination, Presbyterian Church Approves Ordination of Homosexuals, and Presbyterians Plant Seeds of Self-Destruction.
Salt, LIght, and Sex: A festive worship service marked the opening of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) Council meeting on June 25 in Arusha, Tanzania. In his sermon, Bishop Thomas O. Laiser (pictured) called upon the Lutheran communion to be the salt and light of the earth. Laiser, who is bishop of the Arusha diocese of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania (ELCT) said it was the urgent obligation of all human beings to take responsibility for the environment.
Bishop Laiser's sermon also addressed the issue of homosexuality: he noted the ELCT's opposition to efforts to win legal recognition for homosexuality and cited the Bukoba Statement put forward by ELCT bishops in 2004.
In his remarks, LWF President Bishop Mark S. Hanson reminded those present of Proposed Guidelines and Processes for Respectful Dialogue on Marriage, Family and Human Sexuality, a document adopted by the LWF Council in 2007 at its meeting in Lund, Sweden.
Bishop Hanson emphasized that questions related to human sexuality should not be a source of division among Lutherans. He cited the issue of polygamy which confronts the Lutheran church in Africa, noting that his visits to Lutheran churches in Kenya and Tanzania prior to the Council had given him the opportunity to witness first-hand the challenges the church faces in this regard. “God gives gifts of unity in Christ, but also gives diversity. Let us be in unity through the gospel, the good news we have received. It is my prayer that Lutherans will realize that their unity is based on the gospel.”
Communion on Tongue Preferred by Pope: In an L'Osservatore Romano interview with Pope Benedict’s Master of Pontifical Liturgical Celebrations, Monsignor Guido Marini, it was noted that during a recent visit to Brindisi in southern Italy, Pope Benedict distributed Holy Communion to people who knelt and received the host on their tongues.
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Asked if this would become a common practice at the Vatican, Marini responded:
I believe so.
In this regard it is necessary not to forget the fact that the distribution of Communion on the hand remains, up to now, from the juridical standpoint, an exception (indult) to the universal law, conceded by the Holy See to those bishops' conferences who requested it.
It could also be noted that the (Pope's) preference for such form of distribution which, without taking anything away from the other one, better highlights the truth of the real presence in the Eucharist, helps the devotion of the faithful, and introduces more easily to the sense of mystery. Aspects which, in our times, pastorally speaking, it is urgent to highlight and recover.
Canada, Mexico, the Philippines and the United States are all countries that have been granted an exception from the universal practice of receiving Communion on the tongue.
Mover, Shaker, Under 30: On June 24, Windy City Times presented its annual 30 Under 30 Awards acknowledging the achievements of "the young movers and shakers" of the Chicago LGBT community.
Pr. Jen Rude of Resurrection Lutheran Church (and rostered with Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries (ELM)) was among those honored this year.
Kieschnick Condemns Same-Sex Marriage Ruling: On June 24, Rev. Gerald Kieschnick, President of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS) issued a statement condemning the California Supreme Court ruling that legalized same-sex marriages. As described in the Lutheran Reporter on June 26, Pres. Kieschnick's message reads in part:
The recent decision of the California Supreme Court legalizing same-sex 'marriage' highlights the downward spiral of moral values that is becoming so prevalent in our culture. This most recent action contravenes not only the Judeo-Christian values that have defined the moral compass of this great nation, but also the laws of nature and the natural reproductive process.
In the face of such moral decline, The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod (LCMS) has consistently upheld the Bible-based values that designate 'marriage as the lifelong union of one man and one woman (Gen. 2:2-24; Matt. 19:5-6)' (2004 LCMS Convention Resolution 3-05A. ... All subsequent quotations are from this resolution). The LCMS has consistently held that 'homosexual behavior is prohibited in the Old and New Testaments [of Holy Scripture] (Lev. 18:22, 24; 20:13; 1 Cor. 6:9-20; 1 Tim. 1:10) as contrary to the Creator's design (Rom. 1:26-27).'
As a Christian body in this country, the LCMS has the duty and responsibility to speak publicly in disagreement with this action of the California Supreme Court. In the present context we cannot be silent, since such silence 'could be viewed as acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle.' Accordingly, we as a church body urge our leaders, members, congregations, and all Christians, 'to give a public witness from Scripture against the social acceptance and legal recognition of homosexual "marriage."'
While this occasion calls us to declare that homosexual behavior is both unnatural and sinful (see Lev. 18:22; 20:13; Rom. 1:24-27), we also recognize that it is necessary to respond to these 'sexual sins with the same love and concern as all other sins, calling for repentance and offering forgiveness in the Good News of Jesus Christ when there is repentance.'
The Gospel declares that Jesus Christ is the atoning sacrifice for the sins of the world (1 John 2:2) and that Christ, who knew no sin, was made to be our sin so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5:21). It is the church's proper evangelical work to proclaim the reconciliation of the sinner to God in the death of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 5:18-19) in a spirit of compassion and humility, recognizing that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by His grace, through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus (Rom. 3:23-24).
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