Kafka in Dixie: Pr. Bradley Schmeling's trail in Atlanta has begun, and it's not just a closed trial, it's a secret trial. The five meeting rooms used by the hearing at the Sheraton Midtown are unmarked; They're at the end of a cul-de-sac corridor.
Inside the main hearing room there are no symbols, no ELCA banners, no Luther Roses, no crosses. We may be marked with the cross of Christ forever, but you'd have a hard time discovering that here.
Some particulars are now known:
The Hearing Officer (judge) is James Ellefson from the Southeastern Iowa Synod. Counsel for the ELCA includes Daniel Connolly and Erik Jorstad. The ELCA has two "Facilitators": Rev. Herbert Carlmark and David Hardy. You may find Mrs. Carlmark on duty as a door warden on the public side of the meeting room door.
Counsel for Pr. Schmeling includes the Rev. Jane Fahey, Presbyterian Church (USA) and the Rev. Robert Rimbo, Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, New York. Sitting with Bradley are his partner the Rev. Darin Easler, Mrs. Judy Schmeling-Arnette, Bradley's mom, and Ms. Laura Crawley, President, St. John's Lutheran Church, Atlanta.
Sight 'ems: If you know your Lutherans, you'll see plenty of luminaries in Atlanta, some gliding into unmarked rooms, and some simply pacing the halls. On Friday ELCA Secretary Rev. Lowell Almen. entered the hearing room and emerged hours later. Former ELCA Presiding Bishop Rev. Herbert Chilstrom emerged briefly from the defense witness room, entered the hearing room, and left sometime later. LLGM Development Director Amalia Vagts, feeling conspicous for her lack of big hair, could also be seen greeting people in the hallway and in the meeting room used as a gathering place for supporters of Pr. Bradley and St. John's church.
Mary Benis, a member of Pr. Bradley's congregation in Columbus, Ohio, was admitted to the hearing room to testify as were Jim Mayer, Barbara and Paul Arne, all members of St. John's Lutheran. Saturday a delegation of 20 or so approached the hearing room to present the Prayer Weaving assembled for the occasion. Facilitator
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David Hardy (the bad cop) ushered the group into another room where they met with Facilitator Carlmark (the good cop) who accepted the prayer weaving and promised to convey it to the hearing committee.
The Further Perils of Jen: After being stumped last October, the Sierra Pacific candidacy committee announced to Jen Rude that her ELCA candidacy is on "indefinite postponement". Apparently, the committee decided not to recommend approval for Jen because the national church would then deny it. Apparently, the candidacy committee believes it's doing Jen a favor.
Letter From a Birmingham Jail: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote: "I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to "order" than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: "I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action"; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a "more convenient season." Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection."
Memo to Sierra Pacific Synod: Bishop Mullen and Sierra Pacific Synod Candidacy Committee have you read Dr. King's "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" lately? It might be time.
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