Waist Deep in the Big Muddy: Let the River Flow is a "connecting event" event for pastors, staff, and other leaders of large ELCA congregations and "anyone who feels they can benefit from this opportunity". The event will be June 18-21 at Prince of Peace Lutheran in Burnsville, Minnesota. Featured speakers include Martin E. Marty, Barbara Rossing, Reggie McNeal, Wyvetta Bullock, Len Sweet, Ken Medema, and Peter Eide. Registration is $150 (or $100 for registrations before April 13).

LCNA Retreat: Think about all that has gone on so far this year, what is known to be happening in the rest of the year, and consider spending September 28-October 1, 2007, at the Lutherans Concerned Retreat at Holden Village to put it all in context.

Underground Pastoral Message: A communique purporting to be a "pastoral message" from the recent ELCA Conference of Bishops meeting in Galveston, Texas tiptoed into our email so quietly we almost doubted that it was genuine It was passed to us third-hand with email attribution from people in 3 different synods. We try to check our facts, but we have no idea who the source is or if the message is in tact. No press release, no hoopla, nothing on the COB website. But still there it was, and here it is in its entirety:

Message of the Conference of Bishops of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America March 6, 2007
This pastoral message of the Conference of Bishops is offered as we prepare for upcoming Synod Assemblies and the Churchwide Assembly.
We remind this church that the 2005 Churchwide Assembly resolved that the "members, congregations, synods, churchwide organization, and agencies and institutions [of this church] be urged to concentrate on finding ways to live together faithfully in the midst of disagreements, recognizing the God-given mission and communion that we share as members of the body of Christ" ( CA05.05.17).
This church is engaged in a careful study of issues related to human sexuality with the intention of adopting a social statement at the 2009 Churchwide Assembly. We urge the members of this church to engage fully and faithfully in the study process as part of our "living together faithfully" during this time.
We trust the Holy Spirit to guide us and have confidence in the constitutional process that orders our conversation as we engage together in moral deliberation at Synod Assemblies and the Churchwide Assembly.
The Conference of Bishops of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America commits itself to faithful leadership as, together, we seek the mind of Christ on these matters.

Homeless in Lent: From Saturday, March 10 until Saturday, March 17, Pr. Megan Rohrer, who was extraordinarily ordained this past November, will be homeless for a week as part of her work with the Welcome Ministry in San Francicso.
Pr. Rohrer views those she will live with on the street as her congregation and her work with them as "vital life giving work, a real sacramental ministry that shares the living word to those who are often seen as the least. This is what I am called to do."


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Pr. Sophie is all a-Twitter. Again.
Pr. Sophie's Tweets:

    Hot Dish Hotline: "We cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard." What have you seen or heard that other people really need to know about? Use the Hot Dish Hotline to submit your item online.


    If you haven't given up blogging for Lent, read Pr. Roher's daily reports.
    The 2005 San Francisco homeless census reported more than 6000 homeless people on the streets, a large congregation by anyone's standards, and we hope that the delegation from Pr. Rohrer's congregation will be welcome at Let the River Flow.

    Do these Grapes Taste Sour to You?: In a turn that strikes us as bizarre, on March 8, Bishop Ron Warren of the Southeastern Synod filed an appeal of the decision of the Disciplinary Hearing Committee in the matter of Pr. Bradley Schmeling. This means that appeals have been filed from both parrties to the dispute.
    In February the Hearing Committee awarded Bishop Warren the ecclesiastical equivalent of a technical knockout when, after voicing much regret over ELCA policy, it declared that Pr. Schmeling would nonetheless be removed from the ELCA clergy roster in August. It's not clear yet what Bishop Warren hopes to achieve by appealing the verdict, but as the ELCA press release reminds us, "the committee has 60 days to render a decision in writing. The decision of the appeals committee is final."
    Bishop Warren has repeated his earlier comment that he will make not comment further until the discipline process has ended.

    Noe-Effingway Follows Suit: In the Central Great Lakes Synod, Bishop Thorvald Noe-Effingway has filed an appeal in the matter of Pr. Sophie Fortresson, a transgender pastor who serves Keeper of the Light Lutheran on Neebish Island. Pr. Fortresson remains married to her wife of 16 years, Ms. Rose Festeburg-Fortresson. Bishop Noe-Effingway is reported to have complained to some about a lack of support from Higgins Rd.

    Word Alone Outs the Out: A daring piece from Word Alone director Mark Chavez actually names two practicing homosexuals other than Pr. Bradley Schmeling, Pr. Megan Rohrer, Pr. Sharon Stalkfleet, Pr. Arlo Peterson, Pr. Donna Simon, Pr. Craig Minich, Pr. Jeff Johnson, Pr. Ross Merkel, Pr. Steve Sabin, Pr. Anita Hill, Pr. Jay Wiesner, Pr. Dan Hooper, Pr. Erik Christensen, and Pr. Robyn Hartwig who are serving ELCA congregations. (Our apologies to any out clergy we may have missed, our memory isn't what it used to be.)
    Mr. Chavez writes that its "scandalous" that the ELCA has not "reported on" these pastors, and frankly, we agree. The gay and lesbian clergy we know are powerful witnesses to God's amazing Grace, and they deserve recognition for their achievements in ministry and their perseverance in serving a church that is reluctant to acknowledge their contributions.
    Like Mr. Chavez, we also deplore the ELCA's silence regarding disciplinary actions taken against gay and lesbian clergy. We believe that the ELCA is ashamed of these actions because they cannot be reconciled with the church's stated purpose of "making Christ known".

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