North Elbian Synod Chooses Non-Gay Bishop for Schleswig: On July 12, by a vote of 77 - 56, the Synod of the North Elbian Evangelical Lutheran Church chose Gerhard Ulrich (right in photo) provost of Kappeln-an-der-Schlei to serve as bishop for the Diocese of Schleswig. Rev. Ulrich defeated Rev. Horst Gorski (left in photo) of Hamburg. Rev. Gorski is the first acknowledged gay candidate to be put forward for the office of bishop in the North Elbian Church.
After the election, Gorski told reporters that the vote had not been decided on the issue of homosexuality, but reflected the relative strengths of rural and urban concerns in the synod.
Sheep, Goats, Surprises: Our diligent reporters in the Sierra Pacific Synod tell us that there was an overflow crowd at St John Lutheran in Sacramento for the July 12 installation of Bishop Mark Holmerud.
ELCA Presiding Bishop Mark S. Hanson presided at the rite of installation and preached. The Gospel lesson and text for the sermon was Jesus' judgment separating the sheep from the goats in Mathew 25. Bishop Hanson also worked in one of the slogans of his tenure: Doesn't like surprises!
More than one correspondent noted that Bishop Hanson's sermon included a call for full participation for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in the life of the church. Though none could provide the exact wording of the Bishop's comment, all agreed that the remark was received with sustained enthusiastic applause.
Ever sensitive to the nuances of such occasions, our reporters submit the following:
Pr. Robyn Hartwig, who is dually rostered with both the ELCA and Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries (ELM) served as crucifer. She is currently on leave from call.
Pr. Steve Sabin, who is rostered with ELM participated with other conference deans in the distribution of Communion. Pr. Sabin was elected Dean of the San Francisco Conference earlier this year, but Bishop David G. Mullen refused to recognize the election (because Pr. Sabin is not rostered with the ELCA) and declared the dean's post vacant.
Our department of parliamentary minutiae insisted that we mention the wording of one of the ordination vows: Will you discharge your duties in accordance with the Holy Scriptures and the Confessions of the Lutheran Church and in harmony with the constitution of this synod?
At the reception following the installation, one reporter glimpsed Bishop Hanson in conversation with Dr. Margaret Moreland who has served as Mission Development Chairperson for Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries (ELM). Perhaps they were discussing fine points of the Presiding Bishop's strategy for full inclusion.
Meanwhile, Back in Canada: The annual convention of the Eastern Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada was held July 9 - 13 in London, Ontario. Extravagance (Luxuria): Who says Lutherans don't know about Luxury? When you want to indulge yourself, nothing else says extravagance as boldly as the Official LutheranConfessions.com BASEBALL CAP! Be the Life of the Party:
In his report on the opening day of the convention, Bishop Michael Pryse (pictured) commented sternly on the question of discipine for Holy Cross Lutheran in Newmarket, Ontario. In April, Holy Cross ordained Pr. Lionel Ketola in Canada's first ordination extra ordinem:
I understand that an irregular service of ordination occurred and that several of our synodical pastors participated in the service by vesting and/or participating in the rite of laying on of hands. I am aware of some, but not all, of those who participated in this way. Regardless, neither the ELCIC nor any of our Full Communion partners will recognize the validity of this irregular rite and Mr. Ketola is not recognized as being a rostered minister of this church.
After much soul searching, conversation and considered reflection, I have come to the conclusion that any rostered person who vested for this service and/or participated in a rite of laying on of hands will have chosen to publicly participate in an action that our church prohibits and, as such, is subject to subsequent disciplinary action.
The ELCIC Manual on Discipline for Rostered Ministers specifies a series of disciplinary consequences, one of which constitutes public censure and admonition. Given the circumstances and present context, I have concluded that this is an appropriate response. As such, I am today, in the presence of this synod, publicly censuring and admonishing those clerics who participated in this unauthorized act.
I am also publicly censuring and admonishing Holy Cross congregation and have concluded that I am obliged to, in due time, appoint an investigative committee to examine this situation as per ELCIC Administrative Bylaws, Part II, Section 6c. This committee will then report and bring recommendations to the Synod Council at their November 2008 meeting. While the constitution does not specify a range of discipline for congregations in such circumstances, it does say that the Synod Council may, upon recommendation of the committee, suspend or exclude the congregation from this church.
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Extravagance (Luxuria): Who says Lutherans don't know about Luxury? When you want to indulge yourself, nothing else says extravagance as boldly as the Official LutheranConfessions.com BASEBALL CAP!
Be the Life of the Party:
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.
As noted in previous communication with Holy Cross congregation and the Eastern Synod clergy roster, "I am committed to working toward ending practices that preclude the full participation of all God’s people in the life of the church, regardless of sexual orientation."
We believe the bishop intended in the last quoted paragraph to declare that he supports the cause of full inclusion of LGBT people in the church, but the complex grammar of his remarks may obscure that intention.
And Still in Canada: Among the resolutions considered by the Eastern Synod Convention were two resolutions regarding the Bishop's application of discipline. A resolution from Holy Cross, Newmarket encouraged the Bishop to refrain from or exercise restraint in applying disciplinary measures to "congregations, pastors and members who, as a matter of conscience and faithfulness to the Gospel, call individuals who are "self-declared and practicing homosexuals."
The Holy Cross website indicates that its resolution was adopted by the assembly.
A second resolution from Trinity Lutheran Church in New Hamburg, Ontario was more direct:
That this assembly direct the Bishop of the Eastern Synod to refrain from discipline, whether of persons or congregations, in connection with the ordination of persons vetted through the Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries candidacy process, pending an ELCIC decision to ordain qualified individuals who are openly gay or lesbian and/or in committed same-sex relationships.
Put on your Thinking Cap: If you're drawing a blank on how to respond to the ELCA's Draft Social Statement on Human Sexuality, you might want to have a look at the July, 2008 issue of the Journal of Lutheran Ethics where a number of responses to the draft statement are collected. Included are:
Paul R. Hinlicky, Appreciation and Critique of the ELCA's Draft Social Statement on Human Sexuality;
Christian Scharen, Context Versus Principles: Still A Misplaced Debate;
Eric H. Crump, Response to Draft Social Statement on Human Sexuality;
Carl E. Braaten, A Critique of the “Draft Social Statement on Human Sexuality” Prepared by the Task Force for ELCA Studies on Sexuality, Church in Society;
Laurie Jungliing, Practicing What We Preach in Lutheran Sexual Ethics
If you read all that and are still struggling with writer's block, we also offer “Unfortunate Lutheran Statements about Sex” a response submitted directly to us by Pr. Jim DeLange.
Don't forget to send the ELCA your response, and remember: plagiarism is a sin.
Women in the Episcopate: On July 7, the General Synod of the Church of England declared its intention to admit women to the episcopate (that is, to allow women to hold the office of Bishop). The measure was approved by substantial majorities in all three legislative houses of the synod (bishops, clergy, laity) and included the provision that special arrangements would be made "for those who as a matter of theological conviction will not be able to receive the ministry of women as bishops or priests."
The Synod's legislative group was instructed to draft a code of practice for formal consideration when thesynod meets in February, 2009.
Not surprisingly, the decision evoked reactions from many quarters. The Vatican promptly declared that approval of Anglican women bishops would present a 'further obstacle' to dialogue. The Moscow Patriarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church is reported to have said the decision was "predictable because the tendency of total liberalization unfortunately dominates in many Christian churches."
The Lutheran Church of Norway declared enthusiastic support for the decision:
The gender of ordained ministers cannot be a criterion of the church's apostolicity. On the contrary, the admittance of women to all levels of ordained ministry has contributed significantly to the full expression of God's mission in the world.
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