Momentary Grace in Atlanta: At the Southeastern Synod's Assembly, after the first ballot for Bishop yielded 60 candidates, the second ballot narrowed the field to seven, including Pr. Bradley Schmeling who was the object of a disciplinary hearing initiated by retiring Bishop Ron Warren and who may be removed from the ELCA clergy roster if his appeal of the Hearing Committee's verdict is denied.
On the fifth ballot the assembly chose Pr. H. Julian Gordy as bishop, but there was a moment of grace on Saturday morning when Pr. Schmeling had the opportunity to address the assembly as a candidate for bishop. The following is an excerpt from his remarks:
I yearn for a church where two brothers in Christ, colleagues and friends, who both pray to serve faithfully and with integrity don't find themselves on the opposite side of the table in a disciplinary hearing room but side by side in the reign of God. I'm praying that the churchwide assembly will change the policy that precludes gay and lesbian pastors from serving in congregations that will call them, not because I think we've arrived at any kind of agreement or consensus, but because I want to level the mission field to make it fair for all those who are lured by the Spirit to announce "Jesus loves you."

Church Without Walls: Members of St. Paulus (SF), a 140-year-old San Francisco Lutheran church celebrated Pentecost in their own sanctuary and then took up their cross, their candlesticks, their chalices and walked with Bishop David Mullen, Pr. Dan Solberg, and Pr. Megan Rohrer to the congregation's new worship home, St. John Coltrane African Orthodox Church, a predominantly African American religious community inspired by the spirituality of the late jazz saxophonist John Coltrane.
The procession's arrival was greeted by a tenor saxophone solo from Coltrane Archbishop Franzo Wayne King.
St. Paulus, now a "church without walls" will hold services at the Coltrane church, rent office space nearby, and minister to neighborhood in cafes, restaurants, supermarkets, night clubs and other gathering places.
St. Paulus sold it's property in the 900 block of Gough in San Francisco and received, according to one unofficial source, $12 million.

Photo: Katy Raddatz, SF Chronicle.

Walnut Wilt: Under the title "Trouble in the Garden", Word Alone board member Frederick W. Baltz develops the analogy of the effect of walnut trees on nearby tomato plants ("walnut Wilt") to explain the decline in membership in the ELCA:
Despite all attempts to reverse the gradual loss of members by the ELCA and its predecessors we are still losing members each year. Losses now threaten to be less gradual with 80,000 lost last year alone.
I believe the soil has been contaminated; there's trouble in the garden. Our witness cannot grow and produce the intended fruit. We need to identify and remove what harms that witness.
What is contaminating the soil has roots... and fallen leaves and nuts that all keep contaminating the soil. The WordAlone Network exists to remove these roots...

Extravagance (Luxuria): Who says Lutherans don't know about Luxury? When you want to indulge yourself, nothing else says extravagance as boldly as the Official BASEBALL CAP!

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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.


    Lower Susquehanna Dialectic: The Lower Susquehanna Synod Assembly will consider two opposed memorials. A so-called "revisionist" memorial was submitted by the Harrisburg Conference and is modeled on Goodsoil Memorial 2 ("Refrain from Discipline"). The Synod's Committee on Memorials has put forward a so-called "traditionalist" memorial titled Composite Memorial to The Lower Susquehanna Synod Regarding Interdependence and Living Together Faithfully As It Concerns the Official Blessing of Same-Sex Relationships. Whew.
    The "Composite Memorial" reads in part::
    RESOLVED, that the Lower Susquehanna Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America memorialize the 2007 ELCA Churchwide Assembly to reaffirm that the 1993 bishops’ statement as endorsed by the ELCA Churchwide Assembly in 2005 does not approve the “official” blessing of homosexual relationships, which includes any blessing for which approval is given by a synod or congregation; and be it further
    RESOLVED, that the Lower Susquehanna Synod memorialize the 2007 Churchwide Assembly to direct the Church Council and the Office of the Secretary to notify all ELCA synods, pastors, and congregations that they must refrain from public blessings of same-sex unions until after the 2009 Churchwide Assembly.

    Tintinnabulation: Back in March, both sides in the disciplinary hearing for Pr. Bradley Schmeling appealed the verdict. Pr. Schmeling's appeal maintains that the Hearing Committee deviated from due process in allowing "extra-constitutional" documents to curtail options for discipline spelled out in the ELCA constitution. He asks that the case be returned to the Hearing Committee with instructiuon regarding the discretion guaranteed to the hearing committee by the constitution.
    Bishop Warren's appeal maintains that the Hearing Committee abused its discretion by imposing a waiting period before removing Pr. Schmeling from the ELCA clergy roster. He asks that the Committee on Appeals remove Pr. Schmeling from the roster immediately.
    Both sides submitted briefs in late May, and final responses from both sides were due June 1. The ELCA Constitution specifies that: The Committee on Appeals shall normally render its written decision within 60 days from the due date for the last written statement to be submitted under item h. below. (ELCA Constitution, 20.61.A92a)
    Expect the decision of the Committee on Appeals in early August, just before the Churchwide Assembly.

    This Week's Winner: Last week we challenged readers to compose a caption for The Clergy Conundrum Video. This week's winner is an anonymous submission:
    Big hat, no cattle.
    It also looks as though the video is beginning to attract attention on with ratings offered by viewers. Send your caption to

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    Disclaimer: is not affiliated with the any other organization,and particularly none of the following: American Association of Lutheran Churches (AALC), American Lutheran Publicity Bureau (ALPB), Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), Evangelical Lutheran Synod (ELS), Extraordinary Candidacy Project (ECP) (now defunct), Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries (ELM), Fellowship of Confessional Lutherans (FOCL),, International Lutheran Council, Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS), Lutherans Concerned / North America (LCNA), Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ (LCMC), Lutheran Lesbian and Gay Ministries (LLGM) (now defunct), Lutheran Ministerium and Synod (LMS-USA), Lutheran Women's Missionary League (LWML), North American Lutheran Church (NALC), Queer Lutheran Liberation Front (QLLF), Societas Trinitatis Sanctae (STS), Wingspan, Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS), or Word Alone.