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...And a Tempest in a Teapot
Abstract: Bishop Payne's remarks were leaked and a tempest in a teapot ensued.
Bishop Payne's letter found its way from the Conference of Bishops into somewhat wider distribution in email. Apparently Richard Johnson over at the American Lutheran Publicity Bureau thought this it was pretty hot stuff and he promptly published the letter and started a discussion thread on the ALPB Forum.
That, in turn, led to all kinds of silly speculation that Bishop Payne might be a "homosexual sympathizer" and that a bishop presiding at a worship service sponsored by Lutherans Concerned (LCNA) might be in violation of the ELCA constitution.
And that, in turn, precipitated an open letter to Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson from Pr. Paull Spring of Lutheran CORE suggesting that this might be a matter worthy of discipline. Pr. Spring's letter read in part:
Article 14 of the Augsburg Confession affirms that "nobody should publicly teach or preach or administer the sacraments in the church without a regular call." Mr. Schmeling is no longer an ordained minister of our church and no longer has a regular call to ministry in our church. How can Bishop Payne defend her participation in a service at which Mr. Schmeling is to deliver the sermon?
Well, for starters, we hear that in California, seminarians and lay people often get opportunities to preach in Lutheran churches, apparently in violation of Article 14. But isn't it also the case that Pr. Schmeling has only been removed from the roster and not the pulpit? He's still under call to St. John's Lutheran in Atlanta, he's still ordained to the ministry of Word and Sacrament, and it's pretty hard to imagine how he could be in violation of Article 14.