EXTRA: Ecclesiastical Dry Hole!: ELCA Defrocks Pr. Schmeling On July 5 it was announced that the ELCA Committee on Appeals (COA) has ruled that Pr. Bradley Schmeling of St. John (Atlanta) is to be removed from the ELCA clergy roster effective immediately. This ruling overturns the earlier verdict of the Disciplinary Hearing Committee that had sought to delay Pr. Schmeling's removal pending action of the 2007 Churchwide Assembly in August.
"The judicial process has proven to be an ecclesiastical dry hole. It started with an unjust, discriminatory policy and decided that it had been rightly and justly executed," said Emily Eastwood, Executive Director of Lutherans Concerned/North America
The complete text of the COA ruling may be found at goodsoil.org
Breaking News. July 5, 2007: Southeastern Synod Bishop Ron Warren has issued a pastoral letter on the removal of Pr. Schmelng from the ELCA roster. The Bishop will meet with the Executive Committee of the St. John (Atlanta) on August 2.

100 Years of Lutheran Campus Ministry: The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) celebrated the centennial anniversary of Lutheran campus ministry in the United States at the annual continuing education conference at Loyola University Chicago, June 25-29. The theme for the celebration was "Expanding Minds, Deepening Faith, Inspiring Service".
Lutheran Campus Ministry began in 1907 with the calling of the Rev. Howard Gold (pictured) to the University of Wisconsin, Madison. "It's the first time the Lutheran church identified a pastor specifically to be in ministry to and with the students on a public campus," said Sue Rothmeyer director of campus ministry for the ELCA Vocation and Education unit.
In the ELCA, for which the congregation remains the most common model for ministry, campus ministry is a kind of anomaly. For example, University Lutheran Chapel in Berkeley, Califormia, having called Pr. Jeff Johnson from the ECP roster, is listed as vacant on the ELCA congregation list. But in the Campus Ministry Directory Pr. Johnson is listed as "staff" for the campus congregation he serves. The ELCA Campus Ministry web site uses the term "Staff" (as opposed to "campus pastor", for example), presumably because it can be applied to ELCA-rostered leaders, leaders rostered outside the ELCA (for example, with the Episcopal Church or the ECP), and leaders who aren't rostered at all.
We wonder what Pr. Howard Gold would make of all this.

And They're Off: The end of Synod Assembly Season signals the beginning of the less-widely-publicized Lobbying Season in which interest groups within the ELCA reach out to the Voting Members chosen for this year's Churchwide Assembly. Inevitably, this requires delicate maneuvering as the list of voting member mailing addresses is only available to voting members themselves for their personal use. And so it happens that mailings are usually accompanied by a cover letter from a voting member urging colleagues to consider whatever cause is at hand.
First out of the gate this year is a letter from former bishop Paull Spring (who does not seem to be a voting member), Chair of Lutheran Core - Coalition for Reform. Being first, Pr. Spring takes the opportunity to warn voting members of the coming deluge of literature and to remind them what Lutheran Core stands for:

Sinfully Delicious: You'll be the envy of everyone in your lectionary study group, and your Fair Trade Coffee will be sinfully delicious because you're drinking it from the Official LutheranConfessions.com MUG!

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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.

    "the priority of the name of God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in worship and Christian education; the Biblical teaching and practice of marriage and sexuality throughout the church; the role of leaders, churchwide and synodical, who are committed to the orthodoxy of our creeds and confessions; and the interpretation of the Bible as God's authoritative word of law and Gospel over the church."

    AMOS in Mid-Iowa: We received an invitation to a luncheon meeting of AMOS (A Mid-Iowa Organizing Strategy) hosted by Bishop Philip Hougen of Southeastern Iowa Synod on Thursday, July 19 at 11:30 a.m.
    Titled "Faith, Justice, and Politics: An invitation to public life for ELCA clergy and laity of the Southeastern Iowa Synod,"the event hopes to motivate people of faith to get involved in "public life" beyond the work place.
    AMOS is a non-partisan, interfaith community organization comprised of 28 member congregations from across central Iowa. For the rest of 2007, AMOS will host political conversations in congregations, synagogues, religious organizations, local labor unions and volunteer organizations across central Iowa. These conversations will help shape the AMOS Issues Agenda for the January, 2008 Iowa Presidential Caucuses.
    The luncheon will be held at Bethesda Lutheran Church, Ames, Iowa. If you're going to attend, please RSVP to Bethesda.

    Deep, Deep Rumor: We hear from a friend of a friend of a friend who is reported to have heard it from someone on the Church Council that "Churchwide officials" will urge strongly that issues regarding clergy in same-sex partnerships and blessing of same-sex relationshps be deferred to a future Churchwide Assembly and that no decision be made at the 2007 Churchwide Assembly.
    The words of Harvey G. Cox, Jr. (On Not Leaving it to the Snake, 1967) come to mind: "Somewhere deep down we know that in the final analysis we do decide things and that even our decisions to let someone else decide are really our decisions, however pusillanimous."
    Or, as it is more often remembered: "Not to decide is to decide."

    NEW: Ask Pastor Sophie!: Pr. Sophie Fortresson has graciously consented to answer questions from our readers and offer advice about matters ranging from theology to Lutheran etiquette. Send your question to pr_sophie@lutheranconfessions.com.
    Dear Pr. Sophie, I was preparing the worship folder at my church for the sixth Sunday after Pentecost (July 1), and when I read the Psalm (Psalm 16), I thought, "Whoa, that's pretty racy stuff, maybe I should warn Pastor or the assisting minister or somebody." But the phone rang and things got busy and I never got the chance to tell anybody to be careful with that psalm. Why do they put suggestive stuff like that in the lectionary? And what is a parish administrator supposed to do?

    Dear CP, Pr. Sophie thinks you must worried about the last line of Psalm 16: in your right hand are pleasures forevermore, and perhaps you're concerned that modern ears can't hear that without thinking about masturbation. Pr. Sophie encourages you to keep two things in mind. First, how people hear the Word is not up to you, it is up to the Holy Spirit. There is no need to clean up the language of scripture to protect modern listeners from double entendres. These, too, can be tools of Spirit. Second, not everyone is right-handed.

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