Monday, November 21, 2005

Yet another post from a Metro NY Pastor

Why now? Why this? Why these measures?

If I were a partnered celebrity lesbian in the ELCA and wanted to be
ordained, I would choose a synod known for its left-wing bias. I would
choose a bishop that couldn’t even remember the first time he sold out. I
would have my friends set up a scheme which would protect me from the
discipline of the ELCA.

The scheme would take long range planning, secrecy, and flawless
execution. It would have to be a scheme by which resolutions protecting me
could be passed—discretely, under the wire, perhaps in a secretive
manner, perhaps in a special meeting where some didn’t even know we were
going to be voting on resolutions.

The first resolution would frame the latter ones by thanking the synod
administration for its hospitality, care, and support to homosexuals
and lesbians—even partnered ones. Great effort would have to be put forth
to prevent anyone from removing the word “partnered” from the
resolution. This sets the stage.

The second resolution would insist that cases such as my own be handled
with discretion, sensitively, compassionately, ineffectively, with much
hand wringing and no real action…what’s the word I am searching for?
Anyway, it would insure that when I violate the standards—and I will be
in violation from the start—there must be some other violation in
addition to my sexual behavior in order to trigger my being disciplined.

The third resolution would create an exception to my being disciplined.
It would insist that any official examining my behavior must move the
focus of inquiry immediately to the missional and pastoral needs of the
congregation rather than my behavior.

There is always the problem of the ELCA ruling something
unconstitutional. Perhaps we can get an early indication and then the motions that
are likely to be struck down, we can tie them up in the ELCA church
council until April or so. Perhaps I could get an ex-bishop who couldn’t
remember the first time he sold out to fashion such an amendment.

The only thing left would be to schedule my celebrity ordination and
photo op on or about the date of the synod meeting.

Oh, I know there are some issues. Will it split the synod? Will it spit
in the face of the ELCA assembly in Orlando? Will it make the bishop
look like a useful idiot? Will it cause Neanderthals who believe what the
Bible says to drift away from their congregations? Will it expose me
and my supporters as evil people who only care about our own agenda and
to hell with the church if it’s not on board? Well, I shouldn’t have to
take responsibility for these things. I would simply be trying to make
a statement here and advance an agenda.

That’s what I would do if I were a partnered celebrity lesbian in the
ELCA and wanted to be ordained.

-Anonymous in Metro NY

Saturday, November 19, 2005

What Sticks in My Craw

a guest columnist writes

A parishioner of mine recently had a conversation with a high synod
official about my on again off again relationship with the synod—a
relationship that is right now in the off mode. I call it being off the
reservation again. The Metro New York Synod ELCA met in a special assembly in
October—an assembly triggered by the national denomination voting in
August to remain faithful to Scripture and Tradition in regard to
homosexual practice among clergy. That was the assembly where they borrowed a
page from Yassir Arafat and instituted local option while insisting
they were not violating the constitution and practices of the ELCA. The
synod official began with a compliment as to my work as a pastor. But
there was a but: “…but he has this one issue that sticks in his craw and
he cannot let it go.” That issue of course is the attempt by homosexual
advocates to overturn Scripture and Tradition and create an exeption to
Christian discipline and ministerial eligibility for practicing
homosexuals and lesbians.

When this was reported back to me, my immediate response was to say
that there is a single defining issue of our time as Church and this synod
official is on the wrong side of that issue. Let’s be fair, the whole
stinking synod is on the wrong side of this issue. Oh sometimes we
almost vote to be faithful, but we never pull it off. No matter how
ridiculous the resolution might be, if the homosexual advocates back it, it
passes. Due to a whole constellation of events, there is only one issue
that the ELCA in this decade must be faithful in regard to—whether the
clear word of Scripture and tradition applies to the behavior of
homosexuals and lesbians, or whether we suspend the clear word of Scripture and
tradition for them and them alone (others to follow) because they are
“victims”. Because this issue involves our obedience to the moral
teachings of Scripture and Tradition, it must not be let go of. It must stick
in our craw if we are to remain part of the one holy catholic a
nd apostolic church.

Having been in the Metro NY Synod of the ELCA since its inception, I
have become used to lax discipline. Divorcing clergy are winked at,
adulterous clergy are given new career opportunities, pederasts are honored
at synod conventions, lesbian activists are lionized, individuals
involved in shady finances are spoken of in glowing terms. If lax discipline
and the official incompetence and dereliction of duty that enable it
were the issue, I could shut up and swallow. The church has always done a
less than adequate job of enforcing the code. It has not always openly
rejected the notion that the code comes from God.

If as my opponents insist, Church unity were the overriding issue, I
would have no recourse. The intent of Christ is that Church be united
(John 17). The fact that my secularized opponents in this synod would
argue that Jesus never intended a Church and the high priestly prayer in
John 17 is apocryphal, does not prevent them from giving lip service to
unity even as they engage in provocative actions to advance their
agenda. “If you will just stop being divisive, I can complete my hostile
takeover. Now where were we…” The duplicity of the homosexual advocates
notwithstanding, the point remains serious for those of us who know better
than they: Jesus intended a Church and Jesus intends it to be united.
One must exhaust all reasonable means to maintain the unity of the
Church. One must not divide the church over bad politics. If this were
merely a putsch that former Missouri synod liberals have brought to the
synod, I could shut up and swallow. Church politics have always falle
n short of the Kingdom of God.

It is for the sake of my membership in the one holy catholic and
apostolic church that I am at war with a synod that has sold off its
birthright for a mess of pottage. However much the revisionists enjoy the mess
of pottage they are buying, I cannot shut up and swallow. As
judicatory, the synod is my primary connection to the one holy catholic and
apostolic church. I am not a Congregationalist. I cannot retreat into the
pressing affairs of congregational life and pretend that the heresy of
antinomianism has not infected the MNYS. I cannot sound to my
parishioners the uncertain trumpet which says that you can trust the promises of
God because you can trust the Word of God –unless of course it gets in
the way of expressing your sexual impulses, in which case it is the
misleading word of evil hetero males which is to be rejected in favor of
the New Christian values of egalitarianism, responsibility, mutuality and
respect. When the synod becomes apostate, I must find another link to the una sancta or be a branch cut off from the vine. I cannot just shut up and swallow.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

From the speech that should never be heard dept: Anita Hill, Orlando

From ecunet:

"On August 12, 2005, at the Churchwide Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran
Church in America (ELCA), during the voting on resolutions pertaining to
the ELCA Sexuality Study resolutions submitted by the Church Council, 97
members of Goodsoil left the visitors' area and entered the voting
members' space, proceeded across in front of the dais, taking up position
centered on the hall, and turned to face the Voting Members in silence.
This they did because it was apparent that the assembly was having a
discussion about GLBT persons as if they weren't in the room, talking
about but not to them. By moving to face them, at least the voting members
would be forced to see the people they were talking about. A voting
member, the Rev. Paul Tideman of St. Paul-Reformation Lutheran Church,
asked if the Rev. Anita Hill, ordained minister, ECP, called to St.
Paul-Reformation but not on the ELCA roster, could speak to the Assembly.
That request was denied. This is the speech that Anita would have given to
the Assembly:

The people you see before you are baptized people of faith, here to give
witness that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, their
families, friends are part of this church and are here to stay. Look into
our eyes and faces so we will no longer be merely an "issue." We are human
beings enfleshed before you, children of God marked with the cross of
Christ together.

The church has just made expendable the faithful lives and God-given calls
of persons in same-gender relationship for the sake of the unity of this
church. The ELCA has again sacrificed the calls of its own faithful
children for the sake of market share. It is sad that as this church has
been making ecumenical agreements with denominations which take more
progressive stands on gay people, such as the United Church of Christ and
the Episcopal Church, we cannot extend the same offer of full communion
and participation to our own pastors and congregations who take similar

As you have heard in this assembly hall, we already have gay and lesbian
pastors living in covenanted relationship and serving ELCA congregations.
These congregations open the doors wide, not only to welcome those who
walk in, but also to walk out into the world to preach the good news to
those who may believe the church is their enemy.

The witnesses before you stand in silent vigil, calm and unafraid. They
know that the decision you have made is not about them. It's not really
about gay and lesbian people. It's really about you, and about this
church. These witnesses are not going away. Their faith is sure. The
ultimate outcome is assured. We are already one in Christ. But the our
Church is not living faithfully together with us yet. Time is the
question. How long must we wait? And at what cost?

While the church waits, lives of gay and lesbian people are ruined and
faith is destroyed. We are marked with the cross of Christ forever and are
called by God and community to serve this church through Word and
Sacrament ministry. We are held in the steadfastness of God. Here we will
continue to stand, for we also can do no other."

Not saying that the Lord didn't allow it to happen, but...

You following the Metro NY Story?

Shrimp here: Yeah, you know, I don't think I need to write much about this, some Metro NY pastor is tearing into his bishop pretty good without my help. Go to the ALPB blog Metro NY

If you still don't know what he, Norsk and a half dozen others are fit to be tied about read this and do be sure to download the summary of results--they call them "actions".

I call it crapola but what they heck do I know.

Before I go back to the bottom of the sea, let me say something, this guy Bouman is, what do you call it? LYING? Is that the word? Some one said dissemminating but I can't spell it right. Lying is simpler. Lying. He told his deans at their regular monthly meeting two weeks ago that if these four resolutions came up for a vote he would rule them out of order. Some of the deans didn't even come becasue they thought it was just more hot air. Now there is going to be hell to pay.

Boman doesn't use the word "anger" in this or any of his other spinology. He call it "hurt." Bouman will know the difference before this is over.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Why no word on Metro NY?

Shrimp here: I could tell you that the Sargaso sea is very wide and I have not made it home to my octopus's garden to be with you. But the truth is I am so sick from the dog and pony show that I witnessed there that I have not been able to get a story out.

That these folks are all ordained, that they not only made it through scrutiny but now are the ones that do the scrutiny is enough to make an anabaptist out of you, if not an atheist.

I'll get to it in a day or two.

In the meantime, call your bishop and ask him why you should have any confidence in the structure of the ELCA. When a bishop and his executive committe would plot to overturn an Assembly vote that was a four year process, why his fellow bishops are not demanding at least a hearing, if not his hide, I just can't say.

I'm so angry I think I'll leave the ELCA but keep fighting it.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Metro NY Synod, ELCA proceeds with Gay Advocacy officially

Shrimp here: Can't write just now, there is a guy pounding on the telephone booth and he looks like he really wants a shrimp cocktail, but you can read up on the synod assembly from an anonymouse (you really can't blame u slittle chrch rodents for not wanting to be ratted out) metro ny poster at alpb blog. I can vouch that everything said so far is true.

Please allow me to introduce myself
I’m a man of wealth and taste
I’ve been around for a long, long year
Stole many a man’s soul and faith
And I was ’round when jesus christ
Had his moment of doubt and pain
Made damn sure that pilate
Washed his hands and sealed his fate
Pleased to meet you
Hope you guess my name
But what’s puzzling you
Is the nature of my game
I stuck around st. petersburg
When I saw it was a time for a change
Killed the czar and his ministers
Anastasia screamed in vain
I rode a tank
Held a general’s rank
When the blitzkrieg raged
And the bodies stank
Pleased to meet you
Hope you guess my name, oh yeah
Ah, what’s puzzling you
Is the nature of my game, oh yeah
I watched with glee
While your kings and queens
Fought for ten decades
For the gods they made
I shouted out,
Who killed the kennedys?
When after all
It was you and me
Let me please introduce myself
I’m a man of wealth and taste
And I laid traps for troubadours
Who get killed before they reached bombay
Pleased to meet you
Hope you guessed my name, oh yeah
But what’s puzzling you
Is the nature of my game, oh yeah, get down, baby
Pleased to meet you
Hope you guessed my name, oh yeah
But what’s confusing you
Is just the nature of my game
Just as every cop is a criminal
And all the sinners saints
As heads is tails
Just call me lucifer
’cause I’m in need of some restraint
So if you meet me
Have some courtesy
Have some sympathy, and some taste
Use all your well-learned politesse
Or I’ll lay your soul to waste, um yeah
Pleased to meet you
Hope you guessed my name, um yeah
But what’s puzzling you
Is the nature of my game, um mean it, get down
Woo, who
Oh yeah, get on down
Oh yeah
Oh yeah!
Tell me baby, what’s my name
Tell me honey, can ya guess my name
Tell me baby, what’s my name
I tell you one time, you’re to blame
Ooo, who
Ooo, who
Ooo, who
Ooo, who, who
Ooo, who, who
Ooo, who, who
Ooo, who, who
Oh, yeah
What’s me name
Tell me, baby, what’s my name
Tell me, sweetie, what’s my name
Ooo, who, who
Ooo, who, who
Ooo, who, who
Ooo, who, who
Ooo, who, who
Ooo, who, who
Ooo, who, who
Oh, yeah

Here's our test for today kids:

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Metro NY Synod, ELCA proceeds with Gay Advocacy in a big way (with a little help from their friends [Payne and Hanson?]

Shrimp here: Where to begin? Let's see. There is this today in their synod E-letter:

Synods co-sponsor consultation on sexuality at Yale Univ., Nov. 4-5
MNYS and the New England Synod will co-sponsor a consultation on the 2005 ELCA Churchwide Assembly actions focusing on sexuality, Nov. 4-5 at the Yale Divinity Lutheran Studies Program, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut. The consultation is aimed at moving forward constructively as a church committed to unity. Issues of pastoral care, liturgy, ecclesiology and mission will be discussed. A panel of Yale Lutheran Studies students will address issues relating to the future of the church and, in particular, its ministry to young adults and adolescents. Among the 11 participants are Margaret G. Payne, Bishop of the New England Synod; Michael Merkel, senior pastor at Bethesda, New Haven; Karen Bloomquist, director of studies for the Lutheran World Federation; Martin Wells, Bishop of the Eastern Washington-Idaho Synod; and Anita Hill from Wingspan Ministry, the ministry of pastoral care, education, advocacy and support for gays, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people at St. Paul-Reformation, St. Paul, Minn. For more information contact: Paul Stuehrenberg at or 203-432-5292.

Let's see, that would be the Anita Hill, the woman who seems to have won the short straw to be the lead lesbian in the charge on the ELCA assembly (was it the 2001 assembly where she gave her most influential speech? and the Journey Together Unfaithfully forced march began...hup-two-three-four)

That would be the same person that Mark Hanson (as Mnpls bishop) put forward to the candidacy Committee and kept changing the people on the Candidacy Committee until
she was approved for ordination.

Yes, that would be the same Anita Hill who tried to speak at Orlando while Sould Force did their nonviolent protest.

That would be here sitting on the dias with Bp Payne.... are you getting this. OK, who else?

Karen Bloomquist! The same Karen Bloomquist who helped write the disastrous first draft of the ELCA position paper on human sexuality! Yikes! What's this, she is now director of studies for the Lutheran World Federation! Oh no! Hanson, did you appoint the most radical feminist theologian alive (in the ELCA that is--I've met her, she's very nice, of course, but she does not believe Jesus is God, "not like God you know" and now she is)director of studies at LWF. We are so screwed.

So what else? Well, Metro NY is having a little assembly where they are going to say "Screw you, Orlando." Take a look here at the resolutions the poor folk have to endure Saturday.

Here's one:

Whereas, The 2005 Churchwide Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America urged our church “to concentrate on finding ways to live together faithfully in the midst our disagreements;” and
Whereas, The discussion of the 2005 Churchwide Assembly concerning the ministry of partnered gay and lesbian persons provided no resolution of the disagreements by the action of a substantial majority; and
Whereas, A significant minority demonstrated their dissatisfaction with the current policy and practice of the ELCA with regard to the service in rostered ministry of partnered gay and lesbian persons, though no proposals for exceptions to or alteration of current policy achieved a majority at the 2005 Churchwide Assembly; and
Whereas, It is clear that no resolution of this matter acceptable to all persons is possible at this time; and
Whereas, Service in the rostered ministry of the church is neither a right to be claimed nor a privilege bestowed, rather it is the duty and obligation of both candidates and the church to discern the calling of God for service in the rostered ministry in specific persons; and
Whereas, This vocation is confirmed by call of the church to a specific ministry; and
Whereas, There are many instances where the process of discernment has identified candidates and settings for rostered ministry where the only impediment to the call of the church is the preclusion to service by partnered gay and lesbian persons as defined in ELCA policy; and
Whereas, Many gay and lesbian persons, partnered and single already serve in the rostered ministry in congregations of this church; and
Whereas, There are many instances where congregations have expressed their willingness to receive the ministry of partnered gay and lesbian rostered leaders; and
Whereas, Rather than limiting ourselves to one resolution of our disagreements, we ought to “invest the talents” given us in those places where call is extended to and received by partnered gay and lesbian persons and discern the working of the Spirit through the lived experience of the God’s people; and
Whereas, The Rabbi Gamaliel convinced the Sanhedrin not to act against Peter and the apostles saying, “…[I]f this plan or this undertaking is of human origin, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them--in that case you may even be found fighting against God!” [Acts 5:38-39, NRSV]; therefore be it
RESOLVED, That in furtherance of the goal of “finding ways to live together faithfully in the midst of our disagreements” the Metropolitan New York Synod Assembly endorses, and calls for, restraint in the administration of those policies that address the full service of partnered gay and lesbian persons in rostered ministry, in order that the ministry of such persons to and with our congregations may be seen and we may discern whether God “prospers the work of their hands” [Ps. 90:17] and they may be “[known] by their fruits” [Mt. 7:16, 20]; and be it further
RESOLVED, That the MNYS requests other synods to join us in endorsing the practice of restraint in the administration of policies applicable only to gay and lesbian rostered persons as a part of the continuing discernment process of the ELCA so that a number of ministries across the church may be looked to as exemplars through which our synods and the ELCA may evaluate the spiritual health and welfare of congregations and communities served by openly partnered gay or lesbian rostered ministers; and
RESOLVED, that in this time of disagreement and discernment all members of the ELCA earnestly pray: “Lord God, you have called your servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown. Give us faith to go out with good courage, not knowing where we go, but only that your hand is leading us and your love supporting us; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.” [Morning and Evening Prayer, LBW Prayer (251)]

Submitted by
Pr. William Baum, Pr. Michael Church, Pr. Amandus Derr, Pr. Gerard Gaeta, Ms. Allison Guttu, Pr. James Klockau, Pr. James Krauser, Pr. Gary Mills, Pr. Annemarie Noto, Pr. Brooke Swertfager, Pr. Phil Trzynka,
Pr. Dennis Walker
Our SaviorÂ’s Atonement, Manhattan

As pointed out over at the ALPB blog by a metro ny pastor, that is half of the ny power players.

So my only question is do you think Hanson knew about this before Orlando, or did he plan it himself?

later edition: Hanson perhaps is only guilty in the way of unintended consequences. A friend said that Hanson was probably more angry than me when he heard about it. personally, I doubt it. But since he hasn't commented as to date (Jan 16) who cares? I hope the whole lot of them are replaced soon.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Cease fire broken! Shrimp is back!

Shrimp here: Really had hoped to retire from this nasty human sexuality thing, but....

"in the event the April 11, 2005 recommendations of the ELCA Church Council are not adopted by the 2005 Churchwide Assembly substantially as recommended"

Sheesh, talk about pushy human people.... "IF" we don't get our way there is going to be bitch-slappin' hell to pay"

Is that what they are doing?

Go to their web site and check it out!

Let's see, New York has a harbor, and if I can ride this Wilma thing right, I think I can be there just in time. Let's see if they want to do a little shrimp on roll!

Saturday, August 06, 2005

The Misuse of Luther

Shrimp here:

Well, here we are boys and girls, it's the end of Shrimp. Downstream you will find a hundred articles posted with the aim of shedding a little light on what is a very dark room: how a handful of of homosexual activists have been wildly successful at promoting what is basically Lutheran heresy. They would give a new Gospel that syays that since sin is oppressive though systems, the gospel is tolerance. Since mutuality is all that is required between sexual partners....

Where does this come from? This talk from Pless not only names the source but also gives the solution for the ELCA, a proper understanding of sin and cure, law and gospel. Read it carefully here.

Potential proliferation of sexual lawsuits?

Read Saltzmann's article from last year on the Gerald Thomas fiasco and consider the legal ramifications of the new policy towards sexual choice the Church Council put forward.

Read it here.

Please, someone make sure the Gerald Patrick Thomas affair is visited during the assembly

The folloing story is from the Lutheran and is the most positive way the Thomas story could be handled. It, of course, does not get into the issue that the ELCA is considering endorsing a view of sinless deviant sexuality:

"How is troubling information about ministry candidates handled?

The settlements and verdict in a Texas lawsuit brought against several ELCA entities may have raised more questions than it answered. Specifically, how is troubling information about ministry candidates shared among parties involved in training, examining and approving them? (See page 58.)

The case left leaders of one party, the Northern Texas-Northern Louisiana Synod, feeling "disappointed" and "betrayed" by Trinity Lutheran Seminary, Columbus, Ohio.

The civil suit stems from the actions of Gerald Patrick Thomas, a former ELC A pastor. In 2003 Thomas was convicted of possession of child pornography and 11 counts of sexual abuse of minors. he is serving five years in federal prison to be followed by a 397-year state sentence.

Thomas met the boys through volunteering at a community center in Marshall, Texas, where he was pastor of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church from 1997 until he was removed from the roster in 2001 (www.thelutheran. org/0206/pagel8b.html).

Fourteen plaintiffs sued several ELCA entities and officials for ignoring Thomas' questionable behavior during his internship at St. John Lutheran Church, Wilson, Texas-behavior they say marked him as a danger to children. seeking $300 million in damages, they held that church officials ignored confidential memos detailing how Thomas had given tequila to youth in Wilson and allowed them access to homosexual pornographic videos.

Prior to the civil trial in April, several defendants settled with the plaintiffs: Good Shepherd ($750,000); the ELCA church wide organization ($8 million); the Michigan candidacy committee that approved Thomas for ordination ($1.2 million); and Trinity Seminary ($22 million).

Nine of the 14 plaintiffs continued their suit against the Northern Texas-Northern Louisiana Synod; its former bishop, Mark Herbener; and his assistant, Earl Eliason. On April 22, the jury awarded $36.8 million to the plaintiffs, assigning liability for the abuse at 35 percent for Eliason, 23 percent for Thomas, 20 percent for Herbener, 20 percent for Trinity, and 2 percent for the candidacy committee. The ELCA wasn't assigned a percentage of liability. The percentage allocation confused defendants and their lawyers since Trinity had already settled and was no longer involved in the case.

The ELCA churchwide organization settled to avoid the uncertainty of a jury trial, said John Brooks, ELCA spokesman. The ELCA admitted no wrongdoing, he added, because it's not directly involved with approval decisions about individual ministry candidates. "Churchwide had plenty of defense," he said. "We might have been successful, but appeals could have dragged on for years. And we care about victims. This would have made it worse for them."

The total of settlements and the jury award appeal's to be about $69 million, but this isn't correct, said Phillip Harris, ELCA general counsel. Some of the $36.8 million awarded by the jury will be paid from settlements reached before the trial. Harris said the final accounting will come through a complex system of credits as the attorneys work out the terms of the allocation and the judge enters the judgment, which could take several weeks.

The parties in the suit told The Lutheran that insurance will fully cover the monetary awards. Kevin Kanouse, bishop of the Northern Texas-North Louisiana Synod, said that he directed the synod's insurance companies in February to settle with the plaintiffs, whom he said were prepared to settle for between $6 million and $8 million. But the companies chose to go to trial seeking a better outcome.

In news reports, Edward Hohn, an attorney for the plaintiffs, said the ELCA had acceded to a series of noneconomic agreements, such as to conduct a review of all rostered ministers and to create a nationwide reporting system for sexual abuse allegations. But his firm retracted the statement after Brooks challenged it.

Disappointed synod

On April 23, the day after the verdict, Kanouse apologized to the victims and their families during the synod assembly. "I'm terribly grieved. This should have never happened," he told The Lutheran. "I still don't think the synod was ultimately at fault."

Kanouse and Mark Herbener, who was bishop when Thomas served in the synod, expressed disappointment with Trinity for withholding information about Thomas' behavior during his internship at Wilson. Police investigated the incident at the time though no charges were filed.

"I clearly believe the seminary should have known," Kanouse said, referring to a confidential two-page memo Thomas' internship supervisor, Melvin Swoyer, sent to Trinity with his final internship report in 1996. The report "was glowing" with praise for Thomas' ministry, said Kanouse and others interviewed.

But Swoyer's memo, which was sent to Allan Sager, Trinity's contextual education director, described Thomas' actions at Wilson and indicated that the video in question was homosexual pornography. Sager's contract with Trinity was terminated in 2003.

Trinity didn't pass the confidential memo to the candidacy committee in Michigan, which in early 1997 was considering Thomas' fitness for ministry. Trinity approved his candidacy, but in its recommendation to the committee wrote that his "growing edge is setting boundaries," which can refer to sexual or dozens of other issues, such as overextension or blurring the lines between personal and pastoral roles.

In March 2001, Thomas was in a call process that would have moved him to the Indiana-Kentucky Synod. During an exit interview April 17, Kanouse asked Thomas about the Wilson incident because James Stuck, bishop of the Indiana-Kentucky Synod, had recently contacted him. Kanouse said Sager had warned Stuck about Thomas' behavior.

Kanouse said Thomas admitted giving alcohol to minors but falsely characterized the video, assuring him the police had thoroughly investigated.

"I told my associate that we should downplay Sager's comments," Kanouse said. "[Thomas] had done outstanding ministry in Marshall, [where] there was no sense that there were problems." But 17 days later, on May 4, Thomas was arrested.

"What I didn't know was that [in April 1997], Trinity was contacted by Carol Stumme, who had banned [Thomas] from her church," Kanouse said. Stumme, now retired, served St. John Lutheran Church, Columbus, Ohio, where Thomas had volunteered while a seminarian.

Stumme told The Lutheran she never saw behavior that was clearly wrong or illegal but was nervous about the kind of physical contact, such as wrestling, Thomas repeatedly sought with teens. She also said she was troubled that he singled out certain vulnerable youth for special attention.

In April 1997, Stumme and Brad Binau, Trinity's director for clinical ministry, confronted Thomas about this behavior. On three occasions, Binau sent memos about this and a subsequent conversation with Thomas to James Childs, academic dean, and Dennis Anderson, Trinity's president, who is now retired. Childs told The Lutheran he was aware of Binau's memos and conversations with Thomas but didn't receive the report on the Wilson incident.

Conflicting reports

In his testimony, Sager said he contacted the Northern Texas-Northern Louisiana Synod about Thomas in January or February 1997 and spoke with Eliason, Herbener's assistant.

Herbener told The Lutheran that Sager's statement "is a bald-faced lie. [Thomas] was a candidate for a Michigan synod. There was no reason to tell us [in Texas] that a Michigan synod candidate had a problem. So why would he contact us? he wouldn't have, and he didn't."

Herbener later sought Thomas for his synod because of his solid internship in Wilson. Herbener said he first learned of Thomas' behavior in Wilson only in April 1997. Eliason told Herbener about the incident after learning of it in a conversation with Thomas' internship supervisor.

Even then, Herbener said he and Eliason didn't know the video was homosexual pornography. Herbener added, "We had no indication what the videotapes were, maybe an R movie. Our questions were: 'Were the authorities contacted?' They were and had investigated and made no charges. And: 'Was the seminary told?' They were. They examined the case and passed him. We trusted the process."

This was part of testimony in the suit. But Eliason wasn't credible to the jury, Herbener said, because of his three convictions for public lewdness. The convictions (the final one in 2001) came to light only after Eliason's retirement from the synod staff in 2000. Herbener, who referred to Eliason as a sex addict in recovery, said the two earlier convictions were unknown even to Eliason's wife until 2001.

Review procedures

The Texas case has moved church officials to study procedures for examining and approving ministry candidates. "We are in a partnership that makes us all vulnerable," said Mark Ramseth, president of Trinity, referring to the complex process that includes seminaries, synods, the churchwide structure, candidacy committees and internship supervisors.

"Any system isn't always going to serve the way we want. A system meant to be faithful failed," he said. "Redemption, in part, can occur by having conversations with each other in a manner that is trusting and extends our understanding of God's grace."

Ramseth said Trinity's faculty will engage in conversations "where we will look each other in the face, asking how we identify and address issues of misconduct that are real and present."

Specifically, Ramseth said he has told candidacy committees: "You are going to know [from us] everything you need to know in this process. If there is an incident on internship that impairs the possibility of ministry, that is something that ought to be conveyed to the candidacy committee.

"Looking back there are things that we wish we might have done. One of those things ... is to convey to the candidacy committee the concern raised out of Wilson, Texas."

Miller is editor of The Lutheran.

Copyright Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Jun 2004
Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning Company. All rights Reserved

New GLBT activist trouble in our sister denom: Penn. Pastor Officiates Over Same-Sex 'Union' -- What Will PC(USA) Do?

By Jim Brown
August 5, 2005

(AgapePress) - A female minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA) is in hot water over her role in a supposed "marriage" ceremony involving two lesbians. It's a test case that will likely determine whether ministers in that denomination will be disciplined for officiating at same-sex "wedding" ceremonies.

A judicial complaint was recently filed against Dr. Janet Edwards for officiating at the wedding of two women in Pennsylvania. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "Edwards officiated in a ceremony integrating the couple's Buddhist and Christian traditions." The PC(USA)'s Book of Order officially allows "blessing ceremonies" for homosexual couples unless they are specifically identified as "marriages" or "unions."

Dr. Parker T. Williamson, editor-in-chief of the Presbyterian Layman magazine and CEO of the Presbyterian Lay Committee, says he is troubled by what he calls "in-your-face activity" by Janet Edwards.

"I am seeing more and more of this," Williamson says, "that those who have slipped off into the orbit of homosexuality, bisexuality, all of these aberrations, [demonstrate that] there's a connection between these sexual sins and violations of the faith."

He contends the Pennsylvania case is further evidence of the denomination's spiritual decline. "Isn't it interesting," he wonders, "that these folks who are pushing so hard for the violation of our sexual ethics are also getting more deeply involved in these syncretistic religions that leave the orbit of Christian faith and tradition?"

The Post-Gazette describes Edwards as "a Presbyterian minister active in advancing the full recognition of gay persons within the Pittsburgh Presbytery." As an "at large" minister, she works mostly through the Community of Reconciliation, an Oakland-based ecumenical congregation that remains open to what the newspaper describes as "sexual minorities." Williamson says if Edwards does not win in church court, she will likely become a martyr in the eyes of the media and homosexual activists.

Sexual Fulfillment: For Single and Married, Straight and Gay, Young and Old

Take a look at this web page, see the description of this book co-edited by the ELCA's first presiding bishop, then read the reviews and you can get a pretty good picture of why the ELCA is a relativist's paradise (orthodox nightmare).

Here's one comment:

"Neither helpful or Biblical, this book takes tolerance to the point of ridiculous. Two former bishops in the Lutheran church--who therefore should have a strong sense of responsibility as teachers--Chilstrom and Erdahl claim to put forth a middle ground in this book on sexuality. Instead, they ultimately end up suggesting a life style that is hard to distinguish from "If it feels good, do it."
Their discussion on homosexuality is a good case-in-point. They had held the traditional church view until they met with many GLBT people who spoke openly about their sexuality. Based on this testimony the authors were convinced their previous conservative point of view was incorrect and over time started advocating for their church to change its stance.

This methodology would be akin to the following:
Over the course of my life I have met many alcoholics who claim
*their drinking has not hurt anyone
*everyone else is making a bigger deal about this then they should.
*their lifestyle is not the problem, rather it is all those AA people who are making their life terrible by convincing everyone that alcoholism is bad
*if judgemental people would just back off everyone could live happier lives

If I were to take this information from these first-hand, passionate sources and write a statement to the Lutheran church advocating for tolerance for alcoholics, I would be writing in the spirit of Chilstrom and Erdahl. My book would be very popular among people who are looking for an excuse to drink more and have theyir decadent desires ordained by the church. It would be very tolerant--as long as people overlook those who are hurt by it.

Chilstrom and Erdahl have overlooked many things in order to get their conclusions in this book. They have overlooked the true joy that comes from not following every sexual urge. They have overlooked harmful side affects (both physical and psychological) of some of the practices they are condoning. They have also overlooked what affect these practices have on the community around those who live them out. Finally, they have overlooked the biblical witness which claims that we are sinful beings and therefore our carnal desires _may_ not always be holy or healthy."

More here.

Power? Did someone say "Give me more"?

Shrimp here: As said downstream, I remember when the Lutheran Commentator seemed to me like the rantings of a sociopath. That's all changed and it is amazing how one can go through old issues and see prophecies come true (try it--go to the link below and after you read that, go the home page and thumb through old issues). While we await the opening of the Assembly, here's some reading material on what's at stake:

"Restructuring to centralize power."

"The ELCA has a problem: How to repair the disconnect between congregations and headquarters? The restructuring proposal aims to fix this problem in two ways.

First, synods will nominate candidates for the ELCA Church Council. Synods, however, can’t freely nominate candidates because quotas “will be upheld through a rotational system throughout all synods.” This means that a synod will be assigned a quota slot, such as female clergy, lay male of color, etc., and both nominees must come from that category. .

Second, in order to repair the disconnect, periodic consultations will be held to foster communication between headquarters and congregations. The proposed consultations, however, will have no legislative or budgetary power.

Concentrating Power in Church Council. The restructuring proposal eliminates boards and committees, transferring their decision-making power to the Church Council. Because of quotas and the need to give several weeks a year for council meetings, council members are often people with church-related jobs or flexible schedules. Few council members come with executive experience in business, finance, and theology. As a result, many decisions are shaped for the council by the staff under the direction of the Presiding Bishop.

Conclusion: How could the disconnect be fixed? The system could be altered to require that any major policy change adopted by the churchwide assembly be ratified by 2/3 of the synods. But this change will not happen because it would take power away from the center, and central powers do not give up power.

How the ELCA is developing is evident in its restructured design: toward centralizing power. No matter how the 2005 Assembly votes on the proposal to adopt a “local option” for gay clergy, the bishops won’t delay or stop what they are doing. They will continue to place gay clergy until the opposition wears out, just as Episcopal bishops have done.

No matter what the 2005 Assembly does with its one big issue, the new hymnal and restructuring design will be adopted – all three issues centralize power.

Watch out, little frogs. The heat’s rising.

Read the piece here.


From the Pietist:

, "Apparently, three of four congregations (all former ALC) in the Southwestern Texas Synod have successfully completed their first 2/3 vote to leave the ELCA. Bishop Ray Tiemann has written the following response and intends to post it in the synod newspaper in September in order to try to forestall a second successful vote in those congregations and possibly other defections?"

Here is Bishop Tiemann's apologetic for the ELCA:


As bishop of the Southwestern Texas Synod, I thank you for faithfully living out the Gospel of Jesus Christ as ordained and lay rostered leaders, congregational lay leaders, and members of congregations in this
synod. We are called to work together as the people of God as partners in this ministry of Christ's Church, and I am always amazed at how the Holy Spirit works among us.

Due to recent developments, however, I am concerned with how we live together as the Body of Christ. I have been saddened by congregations that have taken their first step to terminate their relationship with the
ELCA. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is like a "body" within Christ's Church. The Apostle Paul reminds us that God has fashioned the church so that "?there may be no discord in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers,
all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together." (1Cor. 12:25-26)

I am most concerned, however, that some of the information, or representations of another's actions, that has been shared has not been accurate. I realize, brothers and sisters in Christ that this written response is a poor substitute for genuine, face-to-face dialogue. However, with these issues so important to the church, it will need to suffice at this time to allow me to communicate with so many. This letter seeks to address some of the more frequently-heard statements, and I have sought to respond to them in the most open and direct way as possible.

+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +

The ELCA is turning its back on the authority of Scripture.

The "Confession of Faith" that is contained in the constitution for congregations, synods, and the churchwide organization is very explicit:
"This church confesses Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and the Gospel as the power of God for salvation for all who believe. This church accepts the canonical Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments as the inspired Word of God and the authoritative source and norm of its
proclamation, faith, and life." This statement is more forthright than what existed even in some predecessor Lutheran church bodies.So, how have Lutherans dealt with the issue of the authority of Scripture? It is not in a literalistic use of selected verses but in the revelation of God's saving work centered in Jesus Christ. It is this
proclamation which makes it authoritative, because there is no other place where we receive this Good News. Jesus' death and resurrection is the center of our faith, not keeping the Ten Commandments or upholding the
correct political stance or having the best church structural system.

Everything depends on whether justification by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone suffices as the center that holds the church together. If not, then the unity and mission of the church has been sacrificed for things that are not of ultimate importance, even the issue of

When we say Scripture is the "norm of our proclamation, faith, and life," it means that these things are to be measured against the witness of Scripture as a whole. As Lutherans, we understand that the Word comes to us as both Law and Gospel. The classic interpretation of this idea is that the Law kills and the Gospel gives life. We need to be cautious not to dispense "cheap grace," but we also need to be cautious not to let the Law become legalistic (people seeking to keep the rules), where pleasing God and earning salvation means participation in right behaviors and is no longer related to the Gospel. This Luther calls a "theology of glory," where we earn our own salvation and the cross of Christ
and his forgiveness becomes secondary to our actions. Scripture is clear that the Gospel always has the last word in our lives.

ELCA membership has decreased by almost 500,000 members in the last
sixteen years.

The trend of membership decline follows the pattern that existed in the
predecessor churches, although initially the downward trend slowed with
the creation of the ELCA versus what had been the experiences of the
ALC and LCA. This pattern is consistent with the experience of most
"mainline churches" including the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod, which
lost 24,000 members in 2003 alone. What are some of the reasons for the
decline? Certainly the struggles with social issues and seeking to be
a public voice in the culture has contributed to these losses, but
there are other factors. For example, the aging of the membership of the
ELCA (the average age of which is ten years older than the average age
of the population) is an issue.
Further, new members are gained only as each congregation in its own
area seeks to reach out to those around the congregation and bring new
people into the fellowship of Word and Sacrament. Clearly, that outreach
by congregation has not been happening in many places. One of the
Lutheran church's greatest struggles in evangelism is acceptance of
newcomers from other ethnic groups and non-churched backgrounds. This has a
much larger effect than church statements on social issues. We need to
be passionate about reaching out, inviting, and then truly accepting new
people into our congregations. As I have often heard, "The church is
the only institution that exists for those who don't belong yet."

The Conference of Bishops is constantly seeking more power in the

The Conference of Bishops is a non-legislative body in the ELCA, and
thereby makes no formal decisions in the church. It serves as an
advisory body which seeks to reflect the perspectives of congregations and
members within each of the 65 synods. I have personally been impressed
with the maturity of Christian faith among my fellow bishops and a
genuine yearning to work collegially for what is best for the church. To
contend, as some have, that the Conference of Bishops is becoming a
"ruling body in the church" is far-fetched. Constitutional changes would
have to be approved by the Churchwide Assembly to provide direct authority
by bishops and such rarely happens.
Finally, ELCA bishops are not "ordained" to this office, but are
"installed." They hold the title of "bishop" only as long as they serve in
this office. The role of the Conference, and of Lutheran bishops, cannot
be equated with those within the Roman Catholic, Methodist, Anglican,
or Episcopal traditions.

The ELCA ?sold out' to the Episcopalians on having bishops ordain
The Conference of Bishops just wanted to have more power.

Historically, the ordination of pastors by bishops was the normative
pattern in both the Lutheran Church in America and The American Lutheran
Church. A widespread custom, however, developed in The American
Lutheran Church of district bishops assigning that task to pastors,
especially when individual, rather than corporate, ordination became such a
common practice.
In adopting "Called to Common Mission," the Full Communion Agreement
between the ELCA and The Episcopal Church USA, the ELCA agreed that the
consistent pattern for ordinations in this church would have bishops
presiding in the company of other pastors. This is listed in the synod
constitution, that the synod bishop "?shall exercise solely this church's
power to ordain?" This did not change with the adoption of "Called to
Common Mission" but remains similar to those exercised by bishops in
our predecessor church bodies.
Please keep in mind also, however, that there is a bylaw 7.31.17, which
provides for an exception to the provision that only a bishop will
ordain a pastor. This bylaw was encouraged by the Conference of Bishops
and approved by the 2001 Churchwide Assembly. Since that time,
twenty-four ordinations have taken place that were not done by a bishop.

What is the concern about the "historic episcopate?"

The historic episcopate is the orderly transmission of the office of
bishop, with its roots in the time of the early church. It is a symbolic
succession pointing back to the centrality of Christ and the teaching
of the apostles. It also looks forward to the carrying out of the
mission of the Gospel in the Church today.
This pattern existed for centuries prior to the Reformation of the 16th
century, long before the rise of the Lutheran or Anglican (Episcopal)
Church. According to Called to Common Mission, our full communion
agreement, the three bishops who "preside and participate in the
laying-on-of-hands" at the installation service for a bishop shall be a part of the
historic episcopate, with one of the being Episcopalian.
The historic episcopate has been part of the life of some Lutheran
churches, such as Sweden and Finland, since the time of the Reformation. In
more recent years, the historic episcopate has become a part of
Lutheran church life in Tanzania, Namibia, El Salvador, and Norway.

We have spent millions of dollars on this homosexuality study.

Gary Brugh, ELCA Office of the Treasurer, confirmed that the ELCA
Church Council allocated $1,150,000 from surplus funds to carry out the 2001
Churchwide Assembly's action to conduct both a study on homosexuality
and a study on human sexuality. The study was, therefore, not funded out
of current mission support gifts, even though congregations made
decisions not to send mission support out of protest to the study.
As of January 31, 2005, the amount spent was $613,039. The Human
Sexuality Study, which was to be presented to the 2007 Churchwide Assembly,
is now being considered for presentation in 2009. The funding for it
will come out of this same allocated amount by the ELCA Church Council.

We used to call them "district presidents." Why are they now called

Historical documents reveal that the title, "bishop," began in San
Antonio, Texas at the 1970 General Convention of The American Lutheran
Church. The ALC was the first Lutheran church body in North America to use
the title, "bishop." The reason for that change involved the fact that
the title "bishop" underscores the pastoral responsibilities in the
office, whereas the previous term, "district president," was seen only in
administrative context. Ten years later, the Lutheran Church in
America (LCA) followed the ALC pattern.

The role of bishop goes against the understanding of the priesthood of
all believers.

Martin Luther, when he spoke of the priesthood of all believers, did
not want to make a distinction between the laity (temporal estate) and
the clergy (spiritual estate). In Luther's Open Letter to the Christian
Nobility, he wrote, "?through Baptism all of us are consecrated to the
priesthood?and there is no difference at all but that of office."
In section S8.12 of the synod constitution, there are thirty-three
specific responsibilities given to the office of synod bishop. Thus, the
bishop's role is not about hierarchy, but describes the elected role of
the synod bishop during the six years when he/she serves in that
office. In my estimation, it accurately lives out the "priesthood of all
believers" by providing specific responsibilities for the elected leader
of this specific office. In the same way, the responsibilities of the
office of pastor are spelled out constitutionally, as are the offices of
an elected church leader, committee members, etc. in congregational

The ELCA is joining forces with some of the other declining
liberal-protestant denominations in the country.

The ELCA has Full Communion Agreements with several ecumenical
partners: The United Church of Christ (1997), The Reformed Church (1997), The
Presbyterian Church, USA (1997), The Episcopal Church, USA (1999), and
The Moravian Church (1999). At the 2005 Churchwide Assembly in August
there will be consideration of Interim Eucharistic Sharing with the
United Methodist Church, but we currently have no official agreement with
Full Communion Agreements provide for shared ministry among
denominations when cooperation will enhance the mission and ministry of Christ's
Church. Some characteristics of Full Communion include: 1) a common
confessing of the Christian faith; 2) a mutual recognition of Baptism and
a sharing of the Lord's Supper, allowing for joint worship and an
exchangeability of members; 3) a mutual recognition and availability of
ordained ministers to the service of all members of churches in full
communion; 4) a common commitment to evangelism, witness, and service; 5) a
means of common decision-making on critical common issues of faith and
life; and 6) a mutual lifting of any condemnations that exist between
In our synod we celebrate an example of such a relationship, where the
Rev. Nathan LaFrenz, an ELCA pastor, serves both a Lutheran and an
Episcopal congregation in Brackettville.
In such situations, the pastor from the partner denomination is not
"called," but under "contract" on an annual basis. There is a detailed
list of items that pastors serving in different traditions must know in
order to serve well. For example, for a pastor from a different
Christian tradition serving in an ELCA congregation, he/she must be familiar
with the following resources, 1) The Book of Concord, 2) the
Constitution of the ELCA, 3) Vision and Expectations, 4) The Use of the Means of
Grace, 5) The Lutheran Book of Worship, 5) With One Voice, 6) Christian
Dogmatics, by Braaten and Jensen, The Lutherans in North America, by
Nelson, and One Great Cloud of Witnesses, by Almen.
Also, should a pastor from a Full Communion partner serve an ELCA
congregation, complete and continuing disclosure to the synod of all
information concerning the past and present ministry, as well as any
disciplinary proceedings concerning such person, will be provided. Also, this
pastor must meet all the provisions in Vision and Expectations-Ordained
Ministers in the ELCA, which outlines proper conduct for ordained

The new Renewing Worship materials take male and female references out
of the text for the marriage rite, creating a ?genderless' marriage

It was from a WordAlone article entitled, "Redefining Marriage
Liturgically," that this accusation first surfaced. It is important to
remember that in the process of developing the Renewing Worship series, many
provisional materials were tested. This is commonly done in order to
engage the church on a number of issues and levels. There were
congregations in the synod, like MacArthur Park Lutheran, San Antonio, which
were part of this process. It was in response to some of these materials
that the article was written.
However, the proposed marriage rite is clearly intended for the union
of one man and one woman. It states, "Marriage is a gift of God,
intended for the joy and strength of those who enter it and for the
well-being of the whole human family. God created us male and female and
blessed us with the gifts of mutual companionship, the capacity to love, and
the care and nurture of children. Jesus affirmed the covenant of
marriage and revealed the height and depth of self-giving love on the cross.
The Holy Spirit sustains those who are united in marriage, that they
may be a living sign of God's grace, love, and faithfulness." In the
service itself, wife/husband and her/him are used throughout. Hence,
there is no "genderless" marriage rite. For more information, please go to

Augsburg Fortress Publishing regularly promotes the gay agenda while
the publishing or traditional teachings on sexuality.

Scott Tunseth, publisher at Augsburg Fortress, responded to this
statement by saying that Augsburg Fortress cannot presume to speak on
behalf of the ELCA. While they are the publishing ministry of the ELCA,
they maintain a certain amount of independence, especially in the area of
book publishing. Their role as publisher is not to make judgments or
pronouncements, but to develop and provide resources that help
individuals and congregations to study the issue of sexuality, and many other
topics, and determine their own faithful response.
Concerning actual books, traditional stances published by Augsburg
Fortress include Robert Gagnon's Homosexuality and the Bible: Two Views;
Robert Benne's Ordinary Saints, and James Nestigen's Faithful
Conversation: Christian Perspective on Homosexuality.
Other books published, which provide a wide spectrum of material
related to sexuality and encourages discussion, include James Childs'
Faithful Conversations, Robin Scroggs' The New Testament and Homosexuality,
and Craig Nessan's Many Members, Yet One Body.

Lutherans Concerned was allowed a display at the 2005 Synod Assembly
but WordAlone was denied.

Every year at the Synod Assembly, organizations, institutions, and
agencies have the opportunity to have a display. The standard policy is
that only those who are directly affiliated with the ELCA may have
display space and, except for Augsburg Fortress, promotion or sale of items
is restricted.
In 2004, however, a request was made by Via de Cristo. After
discussion, the Synod Council agreed to provide display space, realizing that
this set a precedent for consideration of other requests. Then, in
2005, a request was made by Lutherans Concerned. After much discussion and
with the consideration that the Southwestern Texas Synod is a
"Reconciled In Christ" synod by action of the 2000 Synod Assembly, that space
was granted for 2005. Each year such a request must be made and previous
inclusion does not guarantee future space. What is most significant,
however, is that WordAlone never requested a display and was not denied.

I don't like it that we send ?voting members' to synod and churchwide
rather than ?delegates' who represent us.

The membership of this church is defined as the baptized members of
its congregations. Given our ecclesial understanding of the nature of
the church and the polity of this particular church, the term "voting
member" seems more suitable as a gathering of folks who come together to
worship, pray, seek the guidance of God's Spirit, and make decisions for
the well-being of the whole church. Individuals do not come as
politicized "delegates" from a particular caucus if they are to serve on
behalf of the members of this whole church.
Therefore, the term "voting member" was deliberately chosen in the
formation of the ELCA to underscore the fact that we come together as the
baptized members of this church to make decisions on behalf of the
whole. They serve on behalf of all the members of all the congregations in
this church, including those from which they are a member.
To say "delegates" are to represent "us," who is "us?" And on which
issues would they be representing "us?" Whether the person is a
"voting member" or a "delegate" their work is the same - to listen to all
sides on the decisions before the church and to use their gifts and their
best judgment to make decisions for the church as a whole.

Why did the ELCA Church Council vote 32-2 in favor of ordaining
practicing homosexuals?

They did not. The ELCA Church Council, by the direction of the 2001
Churchwide Assembly, was given the specific task of conducting a study
on homosexuality, particularly related to two issues: the blessing of
same-sex unions and the ordination, consecration, and commissioning of
people in committed same-sex unions. They were to present the results of
the study to the 2005 Churchwide Assembly and bring for action any
amendments to the ELCA constitution and bylaws and all other related
governing documents.
The ELCA Church Council has been faithful to that calling. They
provided for the study and received the report at their April, 2005,
meeting. At that time, their responsibility was to transmit, in legislative
language for consideration by the Churchwide Assembly, action items
based on the Report and Recommendations of the Task Force for ELCA Studies
on Sexuality. Whether or not to support a particular position on the
issue was not the question.
As a result, Recommendations #1 and #2 were forwarded to the Churchwide
Assembly in the style of a resolution, following the recommendation of
the Task Force. However, with Recommendation #3 the Church Council
took the concept of the Task Force, to seek to find some space for
rostered service, and provide a model for exceptions, with constitutional
provisions, for the Churchwide Assembly to wrestle with. Thus, by a 32-2
vote, it was forwarded to the Churchwide Assembly for their action,
which must pass by a 2/3 vote.

The pedophilia case in Marshall, Texas, was a commentary on the
"whatever" attitude that pervades the ELCA.

The criminal conduct of former pastor Gerald P. Thomas in Marshall,
Texas, was not a case of a "whatever attitude" or what has been insinuated
as ELCA personnel knowingly doing nothing to prevent a predatory
pedophile from serving in the ELCA. To slight the faithful and diligent work
of candidacy committee members and synod staff in this way is
inappropriate and offensive.
These are the facts. No one in the Northern Texas-Northern Louisiana
Synod leadership knew that Thomas had molested children until after his
arrest. There was an incident in Wilson, Texas, that occurred during
Thomas' internship in which he gave alcohol to minors at the parsonage
and the youth found a pornographic video. His internship supervisor,
along with local law enforcement authorities, investigated the incident,
confronted Thomas, and the supervising pastor subsequently approved
Thomas' internship. The law enforcement authorities filed no charges, but
a memo was sent to Trinity Lutheran Seminary requesting leadership
there to ensure that Thomas was debriefed about this incident and that he
receive counseling. Thomas subsequently passed his senior year of
seminary and was approved by the Michigan Multi-synodical Candidacy
Committee for ordination. He received his first call to Marshall, Texas and
was ordained in 1997. Immediately upon Thomas' arrest in May, 2001,
Bishop Kevin Kanouse visited Thomas in jail and acquired his resignation
from the clergy roster of the ELCA.
In the process, the ELCA settled out of court prior to the jury trial
for $8 million, Trinity Lutheran Seminary settled for $22 million, the
Michigan candidacy committee settled for $1.2 million, and Good Shepherd
Lutheran, Marshall, settled for $750,000. In the trial concerning the
Northern Texas-Northern Louisiana Synod, the verdict was for $37
million, although there is still speculation about how much of the money
already settled will affect this amount. The settlement is still in
As a result of the Marshall case, there has been a reworking of the
candidacy process. Specifically, the ELCA has sought to address
communication issues between Candidacy Committees, the seminary, internship
supervisors, and synods to better supervise candidates. Part of the
revision also includes a full background check on each candidate in the
process - a national criminal check, a county-by-county residence check,
driving record, and credit history. It is important to note, however,
that a background check on Gerald Thomas would not have surfaced any
previous allegations.

I heard the Lutheran Youth Organization passed a resolution
approving of same gender relationships.

It is true that the Lutheran Youth Organization (LYO) passed a
resolution at its 2003 meeting which "supports the blessing of same-sex unions
and the ordination of non-celibate individuals in committed
relationships." Please note that the young adults of the LYO, representing synods
across the church, make decisions on their own, without consultation or
pressure from adults. Having personally read the minutes of this
decision, there were numerous amendments and much discussion. The final
vote was 48% yes, 40% no, and 12% abstentions.
You should also know, however, that the Council of Synod LYO Presidents
recently passed a resolution calling for unity in the church. In it
they resolved, "that we want to stay a united church regardless of
potentially divisive conversations and actions concerning the issue of
sexuality in the church?we encourage members and congregations to maintain
their commitment to work together as one body in the mission of Jesus
Christ within the ELCA, regardless of actions taken during the 2005
Churchwide Assembly?and to individually commit to living out these intentions
in our lives, congregations and synods."
One other item that has received some discussion occurred during a skit
at the 2003 Youth Gathering. In Luke 14:1-24, Jesus tells a parable of
a great feast. Youth served as actors with colored, monogrammed
t-shirts with names like crippled, landowner, rancher, rich, vain, etc. Some
had IN or OUT on them to describe whether they were welcomed at the
feast. When the text was read and some could not attend because "they had
just been married," two girls came together across the stage. It was
interpreted, by some, that this was a subtle introduction of the
homosexual agenda and the blessing of same-sex unions. In speaking with Heidi
Hagstrom (Director for Gathering Program) and Pastor Scott
Maxwell-Doherty (Team Leader), the choice of persons for the skit was a practical
matter, as they had a certain number of sized t-shirts to fit the youth
that were helping. In no way, conscious or otherwise, was a message
meant to be conveyed except that of the awesome grace of God in the
parable, filling his table with guests.

The ELCA is always pushing a liberal political agenda through its
office in
Washington, DC, like opposing the Federal Marriage Amendment.

The Lutheran Office of Governmental Affairs (LOGA) in Washington,
D.C., is minimally budgeted to advocate on behalf of the ELCA. They follow
the guidelines of ELCA social policy statements. The process for
developing such a statement is 4-5 years, intentionally includes study
participation of congregations throughout the ELCA, and the statement must
finally be approved by the Churchwide Assembly.
LOGA is not free to advocate on whatever topics it wants. According to
Les Weber, Associate Director for Church in Society, advocacy is based
only on policy. The church seeks to speak only on issues about which
there is a clear mandate. It does not take Democratic or Republican
positions, but reflects the social policy statements of the ELCA.
Concerning the Federal Marriage Amendment, LOGA joined numerous other
religious denominations and organizations issuing a statement objecting
to the amendment on the basis of violation of civil rights. Speaking
against civil rights violations has a long history within the ELCA.
Specifically, the Federal Marriage Amendment states: "Marriage in the
United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman.
Neither this Constitution or the constitution of any State, nor state or
federal law, shall be construed to require that marital status or the
legal incidents thereof be conferred upon unmarried couples or groups."
The impact of the language negating any state or federal law that
permits "legal incidents" of marital status which confer rights and benefits
for individuals threaten hundreds of legal rights that gay and lesbian
families currently have under a number of state and local laws. It was
felt that the U.S. Constitution should not be used as a vehicle for
enacting discriminatory provisions against gays and lesbians or to deny
any such group equal protection under the law.

The ELCA Division for Outreach promotes the gay agenda
by showing solidarity with the gay movement.

The Division of Outreach does have a publication entitled,
"Congregational Hospitality to Gay and Lesbian People: Resources for
Congregations." It was written after consultation with congregations who are having
success at mission with gay and lesbian persons. It revealed that gay
and lesbian visitors sometimes look for tangible clues to the
congregation's openness, hoping to see visible signs that this congregation will
be a "safe place." Such possible signs of welcome include a framed
mission statement or an announcement in the worship bulletin; encouraging
an intentionally welcoming attitude and environment; clergy and lay
leaders modeling hospitality in their words and actions, and perhaps using
a symbol of welcome, such as a rainbow flag. However, the division
does not involve itself in the politics of gay and lesbian issues or take
a political stance, which solidarity implies.

We have no real voice in the ELCA, as individuals or as a congregation.

The ELCA is made up of almost 11,000 congregations and 5 million
baptized members. Its size requires a structure that allows for
decision-making across the expanse of the whole church. It is not a perfect
structure, but it is one that seeks to be representative of the diversity of
the ELCA, with provisions that at assembly gatherings at least 60% of
voting members be lay persons and that equal male/female ratio be
Individual participation in the ELCA provides a multitude of
opportunities. Persons can be elected or elected to various congregational
positions, synod positions, and churchwide positions. Nominating processes
are in place for serving beyond the congregation that allow interested
ELCA members to serve the whole church. They can be elected to the
Synod Council, ELCA Church Council, one of a number of synodical and
churchwide boards, and as a voting member to the Synod Assembly or the
Churchwide Assembly. They are able to bring resolutions and memorials to
the assembly process, so that issues can be discussed, debated, and
decided upon.
Congregations are an integral part of the ministry of the church, but
not in the same way as in the former American Lutheran Church. In that
structure, congregations were called on to ratify constitutional
actions that took place at the National Convention. This process of
ratification is similar to that of the Presbyterian Church (USA). When the
ELCA was formed, however, the current method of governance was decided
upon, where voting members at synod assemblies and churchwide assemblies
make decisions on behalf of the whole ELCA.
This does not mean, however, that the structure will always stay that
way. Memorials have been brought to the churchwide assembly to provide
for just such a ratification process or to restructure the composition
of the ELCA Church Council to provide for the election of one member
from each synod. So far, those memorials have not been approved, but the
dialogue continues.

In conclusion, I commit myself to continuing dialogue on all issues
which we face together, and I ask that we respect each other's positions
and represent them with fairness and love. We will not agree on
everything, but we can hold to Jesus Christ, who is the center of our faith.
---Ray Tiemann, Bishop

Friday, August 05, 2005

Pep Talk!

Shrimp here: Now listen here troops. Ya got a big game, but you can do it. We got a tough opponent, seasoned, dedicated and deperate. But you can win. You gotta be tough.

Who we going up against? Here's some game footage from last June:

"Thoughts on the ELCA Southeastern Synod Assembly

We knew this would be a difficult weekend as the southern _expression of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America gathered in Athens, GA. The forces of reaction in organized Christendom are strong, and that’s as true in the ELCA as it is almost everywhere else. Still, those of us who are LGBT Lutherans or heterosexual supporters felt a need to do something to address the issues raised by the church’s incessant studying of issues related to sexuality. (Decisions are to be made at the national church conference later this summer.)

We formed a group to advocate for justice and called ourselves “Full Welcome” ( We printed brochures and hosted a hospitality suite. We conducted a prayer vigil and proposed progressive resolutions. We spoke out loudly and handed out rainbow ribbons, a couple of hundred of ‘em, to our supporters. Mostly, though, we wanted to speak truth to power in a way that is consistent with what we value: compassion, kindness, love, recognition that even those who oppose us remain brothers and sisters in the faith.

The prayer vigil Friday evening was moving and powerful; as delegates and others left the opening worship, they saw across the street a group of 50 or 60 men, women and children holding a banner and candles and singing. Several delegates and others joined us.

There were many difficult times during the Assembly. The keynote speaker gave a rambling tirade that said Lutherans were unwilling to speak out against social ills like the threats to traditional marriage because we are too politically correct and we "hide behind grace." The bishop told the Assembly that people outside the hall (members of three Lutheran churches) would be trying to hand out flyers and that these people had no connection with the Synod (!) and it would be fine for delegates to just smile and say "God bless you" and not take them.

We succeeded in speaking our truth and strengthening the resolve of wavering "moderates." We defeated or modified the worst of the resolutions, and we succeeded in getting one of our resolutions passed, albeit focused on "pastoral care" rather than "blessing of relationships." This was no small thing. I'm still trying to get some of the images projected onto the Assembly hall screen -- pastors standing at microphones holding bibles over their heads as if ready to hurl them at us -- out of my head. If we hadn't been there, I don't know who would have addressed this toxic stuff.

I've been thinking about inhospitality. Our group informed our bishop about leafleting because we wanted to be no more confrontational than necessary. It was a way of being kind towards him and the Assembly, avoiding painful confrontation if we could. We also played by the rules, not leafleting tables inside the hall against Synod policy, even though we could have easily done so. When he took that information and went out of his way to encourage people to ignore our handouts, it was a vigorous slap in the face. I think I can speak for the others I sat with in saying we were shocked. Coming immediately after the sometimes nasty and un-Lutheran keynote speech, it was the low point of the Assembly for me, a moment of despair as much as anger.

What to make of all this? I’m still sorting that out. I’m struck that while we LGBT people see ourselves as heirs to the civil rights struggle, the offensive keynote speaker was African American, as was the congregation sponsoring an intensely homophobic resolution. There’s a big disconnect there. We need to own our part of that.

What struck me most, though, was this whole experience as a spiritual act. Those of us who spoke up felt surrounded by love and support from our community. We were one. It was a powerful moment of grace.

Speaking our truth to those who oppose us was also intensely spiritual. We tried (and I think succeeded) in being a prophetic voice. And we had literally dozens of people thank us afterwards, often telling their own stories. I heard from three parents who had gay sons or daughters who no longer attended church due to the kinds of attitudes we were there to oppose. We offered them hope. They understood we were advocating for their kids as much as for ourselves.

I’m also aware of how personally weary I am of all this. I did my first public speaking on behalf of GLBT people in 1978. I never expected this to become my life’s work."

More footage here.

Lutheran pastor targeted in sex dispute

Shrimp here: I'm no muck-raker, but we're posting the follwoing story. Why? We don't know if any more than a half-dozen people read these messages in a bottle, but we hope that the ones who do are the ones God wants to see them. We think what is going to happen next week in Orlando is part of the history of God's faithful dealings wiht humans. God is merciful and allows much to go on and graciously, patiently awaits for us to do the right thing.

The point is that James Childs should have been relieved of his duties when it was found out that he had all kinds of, well what do th elawyers call it, conflict of interests"?

You can look in the early archives for a piece I wrote. Here is something just to remind you.

Lutheran pastor targeted in sex dispute

The Lincoln Courier

CHICAGO — An advocacy group known mainly for its criticism of the Roman Catholic church’s handling of sex abuse by clergy members has turned its attention to the Evangelical Lutheran Church and called for the removal of a sexuality task force director.

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests wrote to the Chicago-based Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Wednesday seeking the removal of Rev. James Childs Jr. from a task force studying such issues as human sexuality, homosexuality in the church and child sex abuse.

The group accuses Childs of helping cover up accusations of inappropriate behavior with boys against a seminary student who was later convicted on sexual assault charges involving a child, among other charges.

"It’s very distressing," SNAP Executive Director David Clohessy said of Childs’ appointment to the sexuality policy task force. "It can only hurt the credibility and the effectiveness of the task force and can only add to the hurt that not just this abuser’s victims but that anyone abused by a Lutheran clergyman would feel."

Childs denies there was a coverup and said he will not resign from the task force because that would give credence to false accusations against him.

Childs was dean at Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Columbus, Ohio, when student Gerald Patrick Thomas Jr. was ordained. Thomas became a minister in Marshall, Texas, where last winter he was convicted of sexual assault and indecency with a child. He already was imprisoned on child pornography charges after admitting in federal court that he allowed two teenage boys at his home to photograph themselves engaging in sex acts.

Clohessy said Childs knew of questions about Thomas’ behavior with boys but did not bring it up during the ordination process. On Wednesday, a lawyer representing parents of Texas victims in a civil lawsuit against the church gave The Associated Press a copy of a court deposition that quotes Childs as saying he received memos raising questions about Thomas when he was at the seminary in 1997, but that there was not enough information to justify alerting an ordination candidacy committee.

Attorney Ed Hohn said the victims’ families reacted to Childs’ appointment to the church sexuality task force with "utter shock and amazement." He said they support SNAP’s call for a resignation.

Childs, now a part-time professor at Trinity, said he did not cover up any known abuses. He said he could not comment in detail because of the ongoing litigation.

"All I can really say is the manner in which that was portrayed is false," Childs said.

The task force is studying potential church policies concerning issues including the blessing of homosexual unions and ordination of gay ministers, Childs said. A church news release this month said task force members also have raised the need to address child sexual abuse.

An Evangelical Lutheran Church spokesman at church headquarters in Chicago said Childs would remain on the task force and that SNAP had been "misinformed" about the pending Texas lawsuit.

"The circumstances of Rev. Childs’ involvement in that matter are not accurately portrayed and do not call into question his fine leadership of the ELCA studies on sexuality," spokesman John Brooks said.

Brooks said the church had no further comment because of the pending court case.

Clohessy said about 10 percent of SNAP’s members come from non-Catholic denominations despite the word "Priests" in the title.

"There’s no denying that abusers seek positions of influence and power over kids, and they certainly know no denominational boundaries," he said.

Clohessy said he is pleased that many religious denominations appear to be working to prevent abuse and a repeat of last year’s Catholic scandals. But he said he believes the Evangelical Lutheran Church failed members in the Thomas case and is doing so again with Childs’ appointment.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

What is a ‘church-dividing’ issue?

by Randy Freund

As in other Evangelical Lutheran Church in American
Churchwide Assembly years, before the assembly the mantra
again is being used: “These are not ‘church-dividing’”
issues. This is another way of saying that we can agree to
disagree and still be “united” as a church. It is also a
kind of caution (if not a warning) that it is somehow
disloyal to call the issues before the ELCA

Before one could answer, “What is a church-dividing issue?”
one would have to be clear about what is meant by “the
church.” The church that the Holy Spirit calls, gathers,
enlightens, sanctifies and keeps united with Jesus Christ,
can hardly be divided by a vote that takes place at a
convention in Orlando, Fla. A denomination may experience
division and loss, but the Word, Jesus Christ, will
continue to create the church, and the Holy Spirit will
continue to call and gather.

This is not to say, however, that there are no issues that
are denomination-dividing. We in the church are divided
about many things, but here I’m speaking of another divide.
There is a great divide between the gospel of Jesus Christ,
which the church exists to proclaim, and “another gospel.
”When St. Paul speaks of “another gospel” in Galatians, he
is clear that there is a great chasm between the Gospel of
Jesus Christ and any other gospel version that seeks to
replace or add to the true one. And we know Paul doesn’t
mince words when he warns those who preach another gospel
(even if they are angels).

Rather than arguing about what would qualify an issue as
“church-dividing,” we would do better by asking whether or
not something is a “gospel-replacement” issue. While we
would all agree with Paul that there is not “another
gospel” out there, this doesn’t mean that there aren’t
others that parade as such.

When we are pushed to ask ourselves whether or not we are
in real danger of listening to or following one of these
“other gospels,” some may tend to flinch and quickly move
toward yet one more: “the gospel of let’s all get along.”
When the true gospel (versus “another gospel”) is at stake,
there are good reasons to push hard questions. In fact, we
must. And this is not an act of rebellion but a confession
of faith. It is true that Christ cannot be divided. But
there are division and confusion about who He is and why He
came. In fact, the Christ of the Gospels is in some cases
unrecognizable or even replaced in other gospels. Paul’s
warning of “other gospels” still stands. Whenever another
gospel creeps in, people of faith have no choice but to
resist it.

Rather than arguing about what would qualify an issue as
“church-dividing,” we would do better by asking whether or
not something is a “gospel-replacement” issue. While we
would all agree with Paul that there is not “another
gospel” out there, this doesn’t mean that there aren’t
others that parade as such.

There are many. The “gospel of accommodation,” the “gospel
of unqualified tolerance,” the “gospel of culture” are just
a few of the “gospels” out there that have a very different
ring to them than the justification of the ungodly of which
Paul speaks. This is the Gospel that recognizes and names
real sin and the real and only Savior for sinners. It is a
Gospel that comes as an external word. This alone makes it
quite different from other gospels whose source is the

When we are pushed to ask ourselves whether or not we are
in real danger of listening to or following one of these
“other gospels,” some may tend to flinch and quickly move
toward yet one more: “the gospel of let’s all get
along.”When the true gospel (versus “another gospel”) is at
stake, there are good reasons to push hard questions. In
fact, we must. And this is not an act of rebellion but a
confession of faith. It is true that Christ cannot be
divided. But there are division and confusion about who He
is and why He came. In fact, the Christ of the Gospels is
in some cases unrecognizable or even replaced in other
gospels. Paul’s warning of “other gospels” still stands.
Whenever another gospel creeps in, people of faith have no
choice but to resist it.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005


By David W. Virtue

The Archbishop of Nigeria, the Most Rev. Peter Akinola believes there are Scriptures that the church must adhere to and follow if it is to be obedient to the 'faith once delivered to the saints.'

In Nottingham, England recently, the archbishop gave VirtueOnline two pages of Scriptural texts and comments that he believes are vital and crucial if theological integrity is to be maintained in the Anglican Communion if we are continue to walk together.

What does God Say about Love and Obedience?

John 14: 15,21-24 "If you love me you will obey what I command...Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him."

Deut. 7:9 "Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands."

Psalm. 103:17 "But from everlasting to everlasting the LORD's love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children's children - 18 with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts."

What does God Say we SHOULD NOT do?

Gen. 2: 16,17 "And the LORD God commanded the man, "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die."

COMMENTARY: From the beginning of creation God has made it clear that there are limits to out personal freedom that we ignore at our peril.

Leviticus 18:22; Leviticus 20:13 "Do not lie with a man as one as one lies with a woman; that is detestable...If am man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be upon their own heads."

COMMENTARY: Clear Jewish interpretation and tradition understands this to mean all homosexual activity.

Gen. 19:6 Judges 19:23 "The owner of the house went outside and said to them, "No, my friends, don't be so vile. Since this man is my guest, don't do this disgraceful thing."

COMMENTARY: This graphic incident makes it clear that rape is an abomination and also underscores the truth that homosexual activity is reflection of human brokenness.

I Cor. 6:9, 10 "...Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God."

COMMENTARY: This shows that Paul is using the word "arsenokoites" translated "homosexual offenders" to stress the traditional Jewish understanding condemning all homosexual activity, not just rape or prostitution.

Rom. 1:26,27 "They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served created things rather than the Creator - Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another..."

COMMENTARY: Paul says that homosexual activity rejects natural order and practice and is an example of the rejection of God's revealed truth.

Matt. 15:19 "For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander."

COMMENTARY: When Jesus here says "sexual immorality", the word "Porneia" for a Jew would cover all sexual immorality including homosexual practice. Jesus' use of this word shows his condemnation of homosexual practice.

What does God Say we SHOULD do?

Gen. 1:27, 2:24 "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them...For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh."

COMMENTARY: God creates male and female as together the full representation of humanity and his image (the "imago dei")

Mark 10: 6-9 "But at the beginning of creation God 'made them male and female. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wide and the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate."

COMMENTARY: Jesus reaffirms the traditional Jewish understanding of marriage as the place for sexual intimacy and stresses that this is not merely a social arrangement but an essential dimension of God's design for humanity.

I Cor. 6: 19-20 "Do you know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own, you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body."

COMMENTARY: Paul emphasizes that our physical actions are important to God and that the way in which we sue our bodies demonstrates our willingness to be obedient to his commands.

Ephesians 5: 31,32. "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. This is a profound mystery - but I am talking about Christ and the church."

COMMENTARY: Paul reaffirms both the Jewish understanding and Jesus' teaching on marriage and to underscore its centrality in creation uses it as an image of Christ's relationship with the church.

Hebrews 13:1,2 & 4 "Keep on loving each other as brothers. Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by doing so some people have entertained angels without knowing it...Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral."

COMMENTARY: The importance of demonstrating love and hospitality during times of oppression is emphasized as is the importance of holy living and holy relationships.

2 Cor. 5:17 "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!"

COMMENTARY: The reality of personal transformation is at the heart of the gospel promise and available to all who turn to Christ in true repentance and faithful obedience.

Deuteronomy 30:19 "This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live."


The good ship ELCA...

The good ship ELCA...
Or the Shellfish blog...