Interactive Reformation Monument of Trees: The year 2017 will be the 500th anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation, and on November 16, 2007, plans were announced for a 500-tree arboretum in Wittenberg. The Luther Garden will symbolize the "interconnectedness, interaction, and reconciliation" among Christian churches.
The official ground breaking ceremony for the project will be October 31, 2008.
Landscape architect Dr Andreas Kipar has been commissioned to design the garden and plans a public square arranged around a Luther Rose created from cobblestones. Surrounding the Luther Rose, 500 trees will be arranged in an oval roughly 230 meters long. The garden will connect the town center and the River Elbe, with the garden pointing southward to the river, thus symbolically opening itself to the world.
In the spirit of ecumenism, churches around the world are encouraged to sponsor trees in the garden. In addition to the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) member churches, tree-sponsorship partners could include churches of the Anglican Communion, World Methodist Council, World Alliance of Reformed Churches, and all churches and dioceses that have been shaped or influenced by the Lutheran Reformation, including dioceses of the Roman Catholic Church.
Somehow we think we already know what the Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries (ELM) contribution will be.
Self Hatred Is Also a Crime: We received an urgent email entreaty from Joe Solomonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) alerting us that the Matthew Shepard Act (also known as the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act) which was passed by both houses of Congress earlier this year was now in danger of not being sent to President Bush to be signed.
The President has promised to veto the hate crimes legislation, and to avoid the threatened veto, Senate leadership attached the Matthew Shepard Act to a Department of Defense bill that the President wants passed.
The Department of Defense (DoD) bill is now under attack from both anti-GLBT conservatives opposed to the hate crimes legislation, as well as progressive, pro-equality legislators opposed to the bill's provisions for the war in Iraq. Consequently, passage of the DoD Bill is not a sure thing, and this uncertainty leads directly to the following call to action from HRC:
"Ask your Senators and Representative to make sure the Department of Defense bill passes with the Matthew Shepard Act included.
Thank you, again, for your ongoing commitment to equality and justice."
We intend to follow our conscience, though it will not be as easy as we would like. We encourage you to do the same.
News in the Subjunctive Mood: We were surprised to find an article on the New York Times web site about Pr. Katrina D. Foster. (We didn't see the article in our local edition of the Times.) Pr. Foster has been pastor of Fordham Evangelical Lutheran Church, an ELCA congregation in the Bronx, since 1994.
The Times' article was not about the Dr. Richard L. Peterman Good Steward Award which Pr. Foster received this year.
Nor was the article about her advocacy for the homeless, her work on behalf of the working poor, her church's redevelopment project which will create more than 70 new affordable apartments, her testimony on the impact of "stop and frisk" law enforcement policies that target African-American and Latino men in the Fordham community, or her participation in a panel that will interview Presidential candidates in an upcoming debate.
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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.
No, the Times article ( "Gay Pastor in the Bronx Could Lose Her Collar" by Tim Murphy) was about the possibility that Pr. Foster could be defrocked because she lives in a committed, same-sex relationship with her long-time partner Pamela Kallimanis.
We think it's an odd time to focus on this possibility, and we wonder what's up.
Pr. Foster has been out to her congregation since 2002 and was among the LGBT clergy who made a public statement at the 2007 Churchwide Assembly in Chicago.
Her bishop, the Rev. Stephen P. Bouman of the Metro New York Synod speaks highly of her:
"She is someone whose faith is genuine and she lives it in a very bold and inclusive way. She's not afraid to tell people that she loves God and that God loves them."
And even though Bishop Bouman will leave the synod at the end of 2007 to become Director of the Evangelical Outreach and Congregational Ministry Unit of the ELCA, we wonder how likely it is that his successor would start disciplinary proceedings since the most recent churchwide assembly encouraged bishops and synods to refrain from discipline in situations like Pr. Foster's.
Who knows, maybe subjunctive reporting sells more newspapers than stories in the declarative or indicative moods.
A Squid a Sushi Bar: Perhaps you are acquainted with the ongoing cartoon caption contest in The New Yorker. On January 24, 2005, the contest featured a cartoon with a giant squid standing behind a sushi bar next to the chef. The chef is speaking to a diner who is seated at the bar. The winning caption was:
"He feels he can do more good working within the system."
And yes, when hate crime legislation is tied to a bill that will fund a war we oppose, we feel like a squid in a sushi bar.
Keep the Promise: December 1 is World Aids Day and Advent begins December 2. The Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance (EAA) has published Keep the Promise: Advent in a Time of AIDS, a seasonal calendar of daily devotions for the time between World Aids Day and Epiphany (January 6).
Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, Rick and Kay Warren, Rev. Canon Gideon Byamugisha, Rev. Dr. Walter Altmann, Dr. Musimbi Kanyoro, Sister Maria Cimperman, Erik Sawyer, Pastor Patricia Sawo, Bishop Paul, and Bishop Mark Hanson are among those who contributed devotions to the project.
Ask Pr. Sophie: Pr. Sophie registered on Facebook not long ago and was surprised to find an on-line meeting place for supporters of Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries. At last count, there were more than 300 ELM supporters on Facebook.
Being of a certain age, Pr. Sophie has not yet hit her stride with Facebook. Indeed, she's still recovering from being the target of a sheep thrown by Pr. Megan Rohrer.
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