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Abstract: Committee on Appeals recommends a wholistic approach to ELCA governing documents, and so do we.
From the Committee on Appeals decision regarding Pr. Schmeling:
"Policy documents of this church that are adopted in conformity with the processes and authority provided for in the CBCR come with a presumption of their constitutional validity... Additionally, individual provisions contained in the CBCR can not be read in isolation of each other; rather, the document must be read together as a whole. Moreover, policy documents of the ELCA that have been adopted in conformity with the processes specified in the CBCR must also be read in connection with the CBCR, such that the CBCR and these policy documents must not be considered in isolation but as a whole set of complimentary documents."
We certainly agree that CBCR should be taken "as a whole", though we think CBCR 4:01-02 ("Statement of Purpose") is too often neglected, especially CBCR 4:02f:
"Manifest the unity given to the people of God by living together in the love of Christ and by joining with other Christians in prayer and action to express and preserve the unity which the Spirit gives."
We have to wonder how prosecution of Pr. Bradly Schmeling, Pr. Steve Sabin, Pastor Ross Merkel or any of the other gay and lesbian pastors who have been hounded off the ELCA roster could possibly be reconciled with CBCR 4:01-02. Apparently the Commitee on Appeals felt it best to leave that as an exercise for the reader.