Sighted at SF Pride Parade: As predicted by the web site of St. Francis Lutheran (SF) The Rev. Mark Holmerud, Bishop Elect of the Sierra Pacific Synod (newly returned from Chicago and his official orientation to the duties of ELCA bishops) joined the Lutherans Concerned - San Francisco Bay Area contingent in the San Francisco LGBT Pride Parade on June 29. It is believed to be the first time a ELCA bishop has participated in the event. Bishop Hoimerud and his wife Debbi rode on the back of a convertible leading a group of 45 Lutherans Concerned supporters carrying banners representing local congregations that participate in LC's Reconciling in Christ program.
A small but enthusiastic group from Iowa (in town for the July 2 LCNA Biennial Assembly) also joined the parade.

Justice Makers Feted: In 1990, Lutherans Concerned North America (LCNA) established the Jim Siefkes Justice-Maker Award to recognize "superior and tireless efforts of straight allies on behalf of GLBT Lutherans." Recipients of the 2008 Siefkes Awards are Rev. Jayne Thompson for her years of work with voting members at both Synod Assemblies and Churchwide Assemblies and Dr. Bennett Falk for his role in organizing goodsoil.org. The awards were presented at Hearts on Fire, the LCNA assembly held in San Francisco July 2 - 6.
The Siefkes Award is named in honor of Rev. Jim Siefkes (pictured), who in 1974 obtained funding for and convened the initial meeting that resulted in the formation of Lutherans Concerned for Gay People. Pr. Siefkes also wrote the Affirmation of Welcome, which became the heart of the Reconciling in Christ Program.
The initial award was presented to Pr. Siefkes. Other recipients include: The Rev. Stanley Olson, Bishop Emeritus; Joanne Chadwick; Dr. Paul Jerslid; The Rev. Paul Tidemann; The Rev. James DeLange; The Rev. Reinie Heydemann; The Rev. Paul Egertson, Bishop Emeritus, and Shirley Egertson; Dr. Margaret Moreland; and The Rev. Lowell Erdahl, Bishop Emeritus.

Issues, Etc. Returns: On Monday, June 30, Issues, Etc. resumed broadcasting on the internet and on KSIV 1320AM in St. Louis. On its first day back, some internet listeners had difficulty getting connected and listening to the program, and the technical difficulties were compounded with the Brothers of John the Steadfast (BJS) web site also went down. (Various groups supporting Issues, Etc. have concentrated their blogging efforts on the BJS site.)
Now that the show has returned, we have to wonder what all the fuss was about in the first place. The first week's programs included an interview with Chuck Burge of Presbyterian Lay Committee decrying as unbiblical decisions at the recent General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) that may remove barriers to ordination of LGBT pastors and a pop discussion (and dismissal) of relativism by Greg Koukl of Stand to Reason (Equipping Christian Ambassadors in the Areas of Knowledge, Wisdom & Character).
While we don't agree with the perspective of the segments we've listened to, we don't understand what about the show would have prompted the cancellation of the show by the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS) earlier this year.

LWF and Currency Exchange: Because of exchange-rate gains, the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) ended the 2006 and 2007 financial years with a surplus for its Geneva Coordination budget. Presenting his report to the LWF Council on June 25, Treasurer Peter Stoll (pictured) said the LWF had a surplus of USD 1.2 million for 2006 and USD 2.2 million for 2007.
Stoll pointed out that the LWF as a global communion was affected by global trends, which clearly have an impact not only on the organization's financial situation, but also on its operational risks. These impacts have never been as strong as at present. The largest influence has been that of exchange rate movements, which have had a huge impact on the LWF's financial results and budget planning.


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    Stoll told the Council that it was "crucial to manage the different currency flows and treasury funds in such a way that currency losses are minimized while at the same time trying to maximize the interest gains."
    The LWF receives income mainly in euros; US dollars; Danish, Norwegian and Swedish crowns, and Swiss francs, while expenditure is mainly in USD, EUR and CHF.
    In this regard, the treasurer highlighted the cumulative surplus of currency gains/losses of USD 5 million for the period 2001-2007. This surplus has actually been essential "in stabilizing the budget and in covering the regrettable program/project write-offs. We have even succeeded in increasing the reserves." However, when the USD begins to appreciate, the LWF will inevitably suffer some currency losses. Measures will then need to be taken in order to minimize the negative impact of a stronger dollar.

    Many Stories, One Voice: Registration is now open for Many Stories, One Voice, the North American convocation of pro-LGBT Christians to be held in New Orleans, September 4 - 7.
    The convocation will feature workshops, worship opportunities, community service activities, and a great array of speakers including Yvette Flunder, Debra Haffner,Horace Griffin, and Erin Swenson.

    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. Send your questions to pr_sophie@lutheranconfessions.com.

    Dear Pr. Sophie: My husband and I are long-tme members of a Missouri Synod congregation, and even though the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod does not ordain women as pastors, it has been the practice in our congregation for women to participate in worship as lectors and communion assistants. At first, I was not sure this was proper, but now that I have served in both roles, I believe my appreciation of worship has deepened. I take these opportunities very seriously: I read the lessons in advance and pray about them, and I try to be spiritually prepared when asked to assist with Holy Communion. I pray and I think about my relationship to each person that comes forward to receive the Sacrament.
    Recently our pastor told me that someone in the congregation had complained that it was "unbiblical" for women to read the lessons or to be involved in distributing the Sacrament. Apparently the "plaintiff" said that Jesus could have chosen women for disciples if that was the right thing to do, but he did not, and so women should not be given leadership roles of any kind in worship.
    The pastor, the plaintiff, and I are going to talk about this in a few days, and frankly, I'm not sure how to respond. Can you help me? E.B.M, Napierville, IL

    Dear E.B.M.: Thank you so much for sharing your quandary. To be perfectly honest, Pr. Sophie has very little patience with those who would exclude women from the pastoral office, but impatience is not a good strategy for the discussion you will have.
    Pr. Sophie believes you should begin with your strongest argument: being a worship leader has strengthened your faith. Pr. Sophie suspects that, notwithstanding the plaintiff, your strengthened faith also makes you a more effective witness for the Gospel in your congregation. It would be good to cite examples of that if you are able.
    Your personal witness ought to be persuasive. However, you should be prepared for the plaintiff and possibly your pastor to assert that it is more important that worship be "biblical" than that it be effective.
    At this point, before proceeding in the discussion, you should decide how attached you are to your congregation. Pr. Sophie is about to recommend a line of argument that may not be received charitably.
    Pr. Sophie believes that it is spurious to prohibit something because Jesus "could have" done it but did not. The Bible really does not say much about what Jesus "could have" done, and this line of argument is usually just a way for contemporary people to smuggle an unacknowledged interpretation into the Bible.
    You might ask why the plaintiff is so fixated on the sex of the disciples. After all, Jesus "could have" chosen Gentiles for disciples but he did not, and that might mean that only Jewish people should be allowed to lead Christian worship. Or perhaps Jesus could have chosen disciples with seminary training, but he did not and so it may be that only tax collectors, fishers or "sons of Alphaeus" are fit to be Lutheran pastors.
    Pr. Sophie wishes you well and will pray for you.

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