Allies Getting Feisty: Have you noticed that allies have gotten feistier since 2005? For a long time, being an ally meant having a friend who was L, G, T, B, or maybe Q and telling that friend that you supported them. It was like having someone in the closet with you.
Lately however, allies have begun to come out in a big way. Last week we reported the Metro Chicago Bishop-Elect Wayne Miller's hope for policy change in the ELCA.
Two weeks ago, Pr. Jennifer Thomas of Lake Park Lutheran, Milwaukee (and a member of the ELCA Church Council)was interviewed on the Lake Effect radio program at WUWM where she made the one of the boldest public commitments to policy change ever voiced by an ally. Click the icon below to hear the interview for yourself.

Another Ally: And while we're thinking about allies, Bishop Margaret Payne of the New England Synod recently addressed the Conference of Bishops in a letter that read in part:
Over the last few months, I have spent time in prayer and discernment that have led me to choose to be more openly supportive of gay and lesbian persons who seek fuller inclusion in the life of the ELCA. I have accepted an invitation from the worship planners of Lutherans Concerned/North America to preside at a Eucharist that will take place on Wednesday, August 8, 2007, during the Churchwide Assembly. To me, this liturgy represents the commitment to continue support for consideration of change in the policy of the ELCA in a way that depends not on political maneuvering but on the flow of gifts that comes to all of us in the body and blood of Jesus Christ.
When I sought ordination as a woman in the Lutheran Church, and encountered hateful resistance, I was profoundly appreciative of men who were allies and stood openly by my side with support and encouragement. I want to provide that same kind of support and encouragement for gay and lesbian people who are deeply faithful brothers and sisters already sharing their gifts among us.

...And a Tempest in a Teapot: 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

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    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.

    Cloud of Witnesses: And speaking of Pr. Schmeling, the congregation at St. John's (Atlanta) has produced an hour-long DVD telling the story of their call to Pr. Schmeling and the discipline process. Copies were sent distributed to voting members for Churchwide, and finally, three excerpts have appeared on Pr. Gladys Moore preaching at St. John on January 21, 2007 during the trial (about 3 min.), a conversation with James Mayer, whose ideas about gay clergy changed (about 3 min.), and conversations with various people who testified on Pr. Schmeling's behalf (about 7 min.).

    Ask Pr. Sophie: Pr. Sophie Fortresson, our resident expert on all matters of theology, Lutheran etiquette, and social protocol, answers questions submitted by our readers and occasionally simply volunteers advice when no question has been asked. Send your questions to
    Sr. Pr. Sophie-
    First, I am glad to have another openly trans Lutheran clergy colleague. Trans pastors in the ELCA are like unicorns: everyone knows they exist, but no one ever sees one. Anyway, I'm so glad that you came out. I was personally outraged when I read how you were treated by Bishop Noe-Effingway, and I began mobilizing support for you immediately, I hope you enjoyed the fruitcake I sent.
    Anyway, there is a question I have been struggling with for years: How do you find a clergy collar that fits? The clergy shirts made for women are either for the petite or for the small breasted (both of which I am not). They are often made from silk, which only goes well with heels - which I have a hard time finding in size 13 and 1/2. When they are not made of silk, they come with puffed up sleeves, which I usually end up ripping off creating a look that is very circa 1980's.
    I have tried men's clergy shirts. They tend to fit very nicely on the top, since I have kind of a man's neck, shoulders and arms, but they leave a bit to be desired around my waist. I have an, ahem, hourglass figure, and men's clergy shirts are built for "pastor's paunch". I think they might fit me better if I were pregnant, but I think that's a bit far to go for the sake of fashion.
    You look so great in your uniform, what's you're secret?
    Rev. MR, San Francisco

    Dear Rev. MR,
    Pr. Sophie thanks you profusely: the fruitcake was divine and the hacksaw proved very useful.
    Pr. Sophie agrees that finding a clergy shirt with an appropriate fit in a suitable fabric is difficult. My dear, the "petite" thing is not even half of it: Pr. Sophie abhors polyester and refuses to be bullied by her clothes into looking "perky" (see photo). Pr. Sophie prefers a nice black cotton twill fabric that gets a lovely "dusty" look after repeated washing, though in a pinch a cotton T-shirt under one of those clergy shirt fronts will do nicely and it will save you the hassle of ripping the sleeves off. Those who have not taken proper care of upper arm muscle tone will want to wear a jacket of some sort.
    Between us girls, Pr. Sophie, having come come to womanhood late in life, was not prepared for the awkwardness of having breasts and wearing a pectoral cross. She has tried short chains, long chains, large crosses, and small crosses. She feels that the whole "cross/breast interaction thing" must have been a major obstacle to the ordination of women in the first place. Pr. Sophie insists that all her clergy shirts have two breast pockets.
    Disclaimer: The opinions expressed by Pr. Sophie and the colorful language she uses to express them are not necessarily those of Lutheran (True) Confessions ( nor does their appearance here constitute an endorsement of these opinions and language.

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