Extra Ordinem, Again!: On October 28, the congregation at Resurrection Lutheran Church (pictured) in Chicago's Lakeview neighborhood voted to extend a call to Jen Rude to become the congregation's associate pastor. Jen, who was rostered with the ECP (now ELM, see the article below) after her ELCA candidacy committee was unable either to approve or to disapprove her candidacy, had been an intern at Resurrection and had continued to serve the congregation without call after completing her internship.
Jen will be ordained extra ordinem on November 17, the fourth such ordination extra ordinem in 13 months.

The Adjective 'Transgender': The Judicial Council of the United Methodist Church was asked to review the decision of Baltimore-Washington Conference Bishop John Schol to re-appoint Rev. Drew Phoenix (formerly Rev. Ann Gordon) after having completed sex re-assignment surgery. The official statement of the matter is instructive:
Review of Bishop's Decision of Law in the Baltimore-Washington Annual Conference Concerning Whether an Elder in Good Standing Who Has Undergone a Gender Change is Eligible for Appointment in The United Methodist Church.
Review of Bishop's Decision of Law in the Baltimore-Washington Annual Conference Concerning How a Clergy Name Change that is Based upon a Change of Gender Identity is to be Reported and Acted upon by the Clergy Session of an Annual Conference.

In Decision 1074, the Judicial Council upheld the Bishop Schol's decision to re-appoint Pr. Phoenix:
A clergyperson who remained in good standing in the annual conference is required to be continued under appointment. A clergyperson's good standing cannot be terminated without administrative or judicial action having occurred and all fair process being accorded. All clergy name changes regardless of the reasons for the name change are to be placed under minute question # 91. The Judicial Council does not reach the question of whether gender change is a chargeable offense or violates minimum standards established by the General Conference.
In commenting on this decision, the Judicial Council elaborated:
The adjective placed in front of the noun "clergyperson" does not matter. What matters is that clergypersons, once ordained and admitted to membership in full connection, cannot have that standing changed without being accorded fair process.

It's Pronounced 'EE-ELL-EMM': On October 31, Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries (ELM) having worked out its difficulties with the legal requirement that its leaders be identified as chairmen and not chairpersons made its debut by launching www.elm.org.
The new organization is a merger of Lutheran Lesbian & Gay Ministries (LLGM) and the Extraordinary Candidacy Project (ECP), and it's mission is:
...to create, empower, and sustain a growing number of faith communities that are committed to the full participation of people of all sexual orientations and gender identities in the life and ministry of the Lutheran church.
ELM is a national non-profit that credentials and rosters openly gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people for ministry; supports these pastors by working with congregations that will call them and providing mission grants to support their ministry; and provides a network of support to the congregations and pastors.
A statement outlining the theological rationale for the new organization's work was also released.

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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.

    Word Alone Board Update: Word Alone President Jaynan Clark Egland reports that the Fall meeting of the Word Alone Network board took place at St. Timothy Lutheran in San Jose, CA. In addition to its regularly scheduled business, the board had the opportunity to meet with representatives of the Fellowship of Confessional Lutherans (FOCL) to discuss the future of the "confessional movement" among Lutherans in North America.
    Among the highlights:

  • Word Alone's first book, By What Authority? is scheduled to be in print in 2008.
  • The autumn theological event is scheduled for Nov. 11-13 at First Evangelical Lutheran Church in White Bear Lake, Minn., and the theme is "Discerning the Spirits". (We are particularly intrigued by the title of Dr. Mickey Matox's keynote presentation "You Shall See My Back Side": Lessons from Luther on Discerning the Spirit(s).)
  • The board voted to grant complete and immediate autonomy to the Word Alone Theological Institute in order to help with the efforts to gain accreditation and to broaden their base of support as a pan-Lutheran entity.
  • Word Alone plans to prepare a response to the draft social statement on sexuality in 2008.
  • A letter will be sent to the international Lutheran churches of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) sharing concerns not only for the ELCA specifically but also for the global Lutheran witness.
  • A plan to undertake an extensive poll of the "people in the pews" in North American Lutheran and other Protestant churches on the issues facing the Christian church today.
  • 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. If you have questions (and who among us doesn't?) send them to pr_sophie@lutheranconfessions.com.
    Dear Pastor Sophie, At the exact moment that I was uploading the new elm.org website the earth began shaking with a 5.6 magnitude earth quake. I know that there are many biblical references to earthquakes; the most memorable to me are when Jesus dies and signs of the end times. Is it possible that the launch of elm.org really shook the earth to its Lutheran core, or was it just a coincidence? And if God(dess)monitors the internet as closely as the CIA, is an earthquake a sign of weal or woe (Isaiah 45:7)?
    Webmaster, www.elm.org

    Dear Webmaster, Pr. Sophie is reluctant to confirm your earthquake experience as a divine portent for ELM. After all, with a few exceptions, everyone was doing something at that exact moment. If everyone tried to interpret the earthquake as a divine commentary on what they happened to be doing at the time, just imagine the hermeneutical Tower of Babel that would result.
    Pr. Sophie recommends, as always, that you count your blessings. Had the temblor (as they say in California) been stronger than 5.6, you might have had the spectacle of a Lutheran Disaster Response intervention at the birth of ELM. True, that could have resulted in a link to elm.org on the ELCA home page, but, if Pr. Sophie may speak plainly, it would have sent the wrong message.
    Of course, the magnitude of the quake could itself have been a sign to look at, for example, Isaiah 5:6: And I will lay it waste: it shall not be pruned, nor digged; but there shall come up briers and thorns: I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it. (KJV)
    Oh dear, most regrettable. Better by far to consult Matthew 5:6: Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. (KJV)
    Much better.

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