Ordination Highlights: Pr. Jen Nagel's ordination extra ordinem on January 19 was attended by about 500 people. The event was covered in the Minneapolis Star Tribune and by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and precious few other places.
After 18 years, it may be that extra ordinem has become status quo.
Status quo or not, however, this was an exciting and unusual event. The procession was led not by a phalanx of clergy, but by several dozen children waving red banners. The red-vested clergy, more than 100 of them, followed.
The ordaining ministers were The Reverend Darold Beekman, Bishop Emeritus, Southwestern Minnesota Synod, The Reverend Lowell Erdahl Bishop Emeritus, St. Paul Area Synod, and The Rev. David Brown.
The laying on of hands, which so often happens in two separate movements (first by clergy, and later by the laity) was done in one movement with the whole congregation filling the aisles, hands on the shoulder of the person in front in a great chain of connection.
And of course, there was a sermon, a powerful sermon delivered by the The Reverend Angela Denise Davis, a blind, lesbian, African-American woman ordained in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Her text was the Epistle for the day (Acts 10) and the message was: "Listen to the Spirit in Joppa, do God's work in Caesarea, knowing full well there will be fallout in Jerusalem."
We looked for local luminaries, but being from out of state, we were unable to identify any. We can neither confirm nor deny attendance by Bishop Craig Johnson.
We did hear that there was one Minneapolis Area Bishop's Assistant in attendance who did not vest and, unprepared for the unconventional laying on of hands, seemed reluctant to reach out a hand to the shoulder of the next person lest this be misconstrued.
At the reception following the ordination we met The Reverend Susan Engh, ELCA Director of Congregation Based Organizing.

Defending the Faith: The 2008 Word Alone Convention will be held April 13-14 at Calvary Lutheran Church in Golden Valley, Minnesota. The theme for this year's convention is Defending the Faith and keynote speakers are Dr. James Kallas and Pastor Gary Jepsen:
Believers have always faced challenges to the Christian faith from the unbelieving world. In recent decades, direct challenges to the Christian faith seemed to have occurred from within churches almost as often as they have from without. Laypersons with no academic degrees in theology now are finding themselves in awkward and difficult positions of defending the faith in conversations with church leaders who do have theological degrees. Clergy and teaching theologians find themselves defending the faith before some bishops and church officials. WordAlone's 2008 annual convention will focus on equipping all to defend the faith with clarity, confidence, humility and love - in the world and in our churches.

Forgive Us Our Trespasses: We don't often get items from the Wall Street Journal, but this story by Alexandra Alter on January 18 piqued our interest:
On a quiet Sunday morning in June, as worshippers settled into the pews at Allen Baptist Church in southwestern Michigan, Pastor Jason Burrick grabbed his cellphone and dialed 911. When a dispatcher answered, the preacher said a former congregant was in the sanctuary. "And we need to, um, have her out A.S.A.P."
Half an hour later, 71-year-old Karolyn Caskey, a church member for nearly 50 years who had taught Sunday school and regularly donated 10% of her pension, was led out by a state trooper and a county sheriff's officer. One held her purse and Bible. The other put her in handcuffs.

Pastor Burrick determined that Ms. Kaskey's presence at worship was trespassing and had her removed. Read the

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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.

    whole story.
    We assume that Pr. Burrick's church will not be joining the New Sanctuary Movement any time soon.

    Indian Rite Mass: On January 19, an Indian Rite Mass (in the tradition of Bede Griffiths, pictured, and the Indian Rite of the Church of South India) was celebrated at St. John's Cathedral in Los Angeles.
    The rite included Arati (the Service of Light) and Kirtan (congregational chanting of the Holy Names). Music was provided by the Temple Bhajan Band and the Adoration Chant Band. Spiritual leaders of the Los Angeles Hindu community were honored during the service.
    Bishop J. Jon Bruno was unable to attend due to the death of a close family friend. The Rt. Rev. Chester Talton read a statement from Bishop Bruno apologizing to the Hindu religious community for centuries-old acts of religious discrimination by Christians, including attempts to convert them.
    All were invited to Holy Communion which featured indian breads and wine. In respect to Hindu tradition, a tray of flowers was also presented. Christians and Hindus lined up for communion, but since Orthodox Hindus shun alcohol, they consumed only the bread.
    The Rev. Karen MacQueen, an associate priest at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Pomona, who was the celebrant and homilist.

    Moving Forward, Welcoming All: Episcopalians in the Diocese of San Joaquin (which withdrew from the Episcopal Church in December, 2007) will gather on Saturday, January 26 for Moving Forward, Welcoming All at the Church of the Saviour in Hanford, California.
    House of Deputies President Bonnie Anderson and the Rev. Canon Robert Moore, appointed by the Presiding Bishop as the interim pastoral presence for continuing Episcopalians in the diocese, are keynote speakers for the gathering to offer support and encouragement to Episcopalians. Anderson's comments to the gathering, expected to draw Episcopalians from across the diocese and the state, will be videocast.
    A live video stream of the event will be carried via Episcopal Life Online, and Viewers can watch the proceedings by logging on to http://www.episcopalchurch.org/.
    The video stream will also bring Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori's greetings to continuing Episcopalians gathered at the Central California Valley church, The videocast will begin about 10 a.m. Pacific time (11 a.m. Mountain, 12 a.m. Central, 1 p.m. Eastern) according to Mike Collins, Episcopal Life Media Video/Multicast Unit director.
    Viewers will be able to watch the videocast, from 10 a.m. to 11.45 a.m. Pacific time in Windows Media and Real Media versions in high and low quality as well as audio only for those with slower internet connections.
    The event is the culmination of a five-day "listening tour" by Canon Moore to learn first hand the experiences and hopes of clergy and laity remaining in the Episcopal Church in Stockton, Riverbank, Fresno, Bakersfield and Visalia.

    Once More With Feeling: A quick look at the Minneapolis Area Synod web site will tell you that Ms. Jen Nagel is a member of the Synod Council.
    As of January 19, Jen Nagel is now Rev. Jen Nagel. Although Jen has been called to Salem English Lutheran Church, one of the Synod's congregations, we doubt that the synod will recognize the ordination (most of the time, at least) because Jen is rostered with Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries and not with the ELCA.
    The Synod's constitution stipulates that, among the eight "at large" members of the synod council, four will be clergy and four will be lay people. If Pr. Nagel is an "at large" member of the synod council (we don't know), we wonder how the synod will reckon her membership. This has been a point of contention in other synods where ELM-rostered clergy have been denied the opportunity to run for synod council. (See The Clergy Conundrum.)

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