The Many Lives of Krister Stendahl: When Bishop Krister Stendahl passed away on April 15 at the age of 86, it was hard to believe that only one person had died. As pastor, bishop, chaplain, scholar, teacher, academic dean, husband and father, Bishop Stendahl led a full life, and the fullness of that life was echoed in the obituaries that brought the news of his death.
The ELCA News Service saluted Bishop Stendahl as "an advocate for the equality of women in the church and for promoting ecumenical and interfaith relations through his work with the Lutheran World Federation,the World Council of Churches (WCC), both in Geneva, and other church organizations."
Harvard Divinity School held up his many academic accomplishments.
Lutherans Concerned and Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries (ELM) recalled that it was Stendahl in 1990 who first used the words “extra ordinem” and “extraordinary” to describe the ordinations of openly gay and lesbian clergy and celebrated his participation in the 2001 ordination of Pr. Anita Hill.
The New York Times cited Stendahl's hope that life might be found on Mars because then “God would be bigger than we thought.”
And the Presbyterian News Service noted that Stendahl "was among the religious leaders who officiated at the 2003 consecration of New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson, the first openly gay Episcopal bishop in the United States."

Communion, Independence, Discernment: The ELCA Church Council met April 11-13, and in addition to the obligatory discussion of the draft social statement on sexuality, the council also moved forward with plans for full communion with the United Methodist Church. The council requested that a formal proposal on full communion be presented at its November, 2008 meeting, and a recommendation on full communion may be presented to the 2009 church wide assembly. The UMC General Conference, meeting in Fort Worth, Texas, April 23-May 2, will act on a proposal for full communion with the ELCA.
The church council also approved (by a vote of 18 - 13) a request to recognize Lutheran CORE as an "independent Lutheran organization" that relates to the ELCA through the Vocation and Education program unit. In discussion, council members expressed concern that Word Alone, which has been critical of the ELCA Churchwide organization and its leaders was a Lutheran Core affiliate.
What it means to be an "Independent Lutheran Organization" seems to be quite variable. Other organizations with this designation include Lutheran Association of Christian Educators (LACE), Global Health Ministries, ELCA Alliance for Faith, Science, and Technology, and Lutherans Concerned (LCNA).
Finally, in response to a recommendation from the Southwestern Minnesota Synod, the church council established a communal discernment task force to explore how the ELCA might better "engage emotional and divisive issues, seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and make difficult decisions as a church body in ways that will increase mutual trust, build respect for each other as the Body of Christ and deepen spiritual discernment." The task force was given a budget of up to $25,000 and was asked to report in November, 2008 on the scope and timeline for its work and on any recommended changes to the process of deliberation that might affect the 2009 churchwide assembly.


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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.

    Issues, Etc. Redux: On Monday, April 14, about 75 people staged a silent vigil at the headquarters of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synd (LCMS) to protest the cancellation of the radio program Issues, Etc.. The protest was covered by the St. Louis Post Dispatch and short videos of the protest have appeared on YouTube.

    Opening the Book of Faith: We got the invitation to the first Book of Faith webinar, and we were really curious about how the Lutheran perspective on Scripture would come across in a web-based meeting. We're sorry we missed it.
    The topic was Opening the Book of Faith, which immediately reminded us of the Medieval Helpdesk video clip.

    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 Pr. Sophie: I am the bishop of an ELCA Synod. I have a delicate problem, and I hope you can provide some assistance. In another week or two, the synod will elect another bishop (I have decided not to stand for re-election). I was organizing our vestments the other day, I noticed a coffee stain on the synod's mitre. I do not want the new bishop to think poorly or me, and I'd like to clean this up. Do you know the best way to remove a coffee stain from a mitre? Thanks, DM
    Dear DM Pr. Sophie never ceases to be amazed at the trusting nature of her readers, and she is truly touched that you would write to her with such a problem. Pr. Sophie has been many things, but she has never been a bishop, and so, quite uncharacteristically, she offers this advice somewhat tentatively because she has never had to care for a mitre herself. However, Pr. Sophie has drunk her share of coffee and has not always been as neat as her mother taught her to be, so she is not entirely unprepared.
    Coffee leaves a stain on cloth because it contains colored substances that are both water-soluble and acidic. (If your stain is from coffee with cream, you may also have to worry about an oily stain from butterfat in the cream. Let's just assume that your stain is from black coffee.) Since the coffee stain is acidic, an alkaline medium is recommended for the dislodging the stain. Pr. Sophie has had good success with baking soda sprinkled onto a damp cloth. The cloth may then be placed flat on the stain where with gentle pressure, it will soak up the stain.
    Always try stain removal techniques on an inconspicuous spot, the new bishop will be grateful.

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