Friday, June 17, 2005

Read this carefully

This story is from the Religion New Service following the installation of Mark Hanson as PB. It was so astute in the way that describes everything that has come to pass. Among other things it shows that Hanson was Chilstrom's choice, the man to lead the ELCA through the process of the normalization of homosexuality.

"Hanson, characterized by colleagues as a moderate, narrowly defeated the more conservative Rev. Donald J. McCoid, bishop of the Southwestern Pennsylvania Synod, at church elections in August. He assumes the leadership of a church currently struggling with two divisive issues: the role of homosexual clergy and its related stand on same-sex unions, and small pockets of discontent arising from its ecumenical efforts, relationships that some fear may work to dilute Lutheran identity.

Indeed, in his six-year tenure as bishop of the St. Paul Synod, Hanson became actively involved in both issues. The ELCA allows the ordination of gay clergy but only if they agree to remain celibate. In the spring, a church in Hanson's synod violated that requirement by ordaining a lesbian who refused to take a vow of celibacy. Ultimately, he chose to censure, but not expel, the congregation.

At the church's policy-making assembly this year, Hanson pushed unsuccessfully for the church to drop the celibacy requirement. The assembly opted instead to authorize a four-year study of the role of homosexual clergy and same-sex unions. The findings are scheduled to be released in 2005, a date that will fall within Hanson's tenure.

Among its ecumenical agreements, the one with the Episcopal Church has proven the most troublesome, contributing to a lingering discontent among some member in both churches.

In the Lutheran tradition, only a pastor is required to preside over ordinations. The 2.4 million-member Episcopal Church, however, requires that a bishop preside over all ordinations, a point it insisted on in its the full communion agreement. The ELCA approved the agreement in 1999, but in August voted to amend it to allow for its clergy to be ordained by pastors rather than bishops "in unusual circumstances." The Episcopal Church originally opposed the amendment, but has yet to formally challenge the revision.

Although some from Hanson's synod opposed both the original agreement and the amendment, Hanson went on to play a central role in negotiating the compromise. "Part of my new role," said Hanson, "will be to turn our verbal agreements with other churches into practical agreements, especially in coordinating our common missions to combat poverty. "In the past, the church tended to separate evangelism and social action. To me, they are inseparable."

Hanson, a native Minnesotan, and the son of a Lutheran evangelist, said he preferred to avoid labels, but if pressed, would characterize himself as a "social liberal, and a church moderate."

Timothy Lull, a longtime professional colleague of Hanson's and the president of Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in Berkeley, Calif., agreed with Hanson's self-assessment. "Socially, his worldview was shaped by his involvement in the 1960s and 1970s during the civil rights movement," Lull said, while "ecumenically, he was influenced by events surrounding Vatican II and his involvement in the World Council of Churches."

Lull added that Hanson's education at New York's Union Theological Seminary, where he earned his master of divinity degree, and further study at the Harvard Divinity School, exposed him to an open-mindedness and inclusiveness that he may not have experienced had he chosen the more traditional path of Lutheran clergy to train at a denominational seminary.

Presiding Bishop emeritus Herbert Chilstrom, the first to lead the ELCA after its formation in 1987 and a long-time friend of Hanson and his wife Ione, said he believed the timing, both for the church and for Hanson personally, were ripe for his selection.

"There has been concern that our internal issues may be distracting the church from its primary mission of evangelism," said Chilstrom. "Hanson's strong suits are his deep faith and his personal leadership, communication and negotiation skills. "He has a proven track record for inclusive debate, compromise and mission. That's what the church needs now, and that's why he was chosen."

It became known from Chilstrom himself that he firmly believed that the ELCA should abolish celibacy and declare homosexuality as something to be celebrated, but "the people just weren't ready for it." Seems it was his idea to have young Mark Hanson do the job for which he prepared the way.

And so the process began. Hanson created a unit to give step by step plans on how to present the issue to clergy.

"A Conversation Among Sisters and Brothers in Christ on Homosexuality and the Church A Rostered Leaders√É‚’ Event This resource is produced by the Interunit Work Group on Homosexuality of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. It is funded by a grant from Aid Association for Lutherans and the Lutheran Brotherhood Foundation. Project Committee: Patricia J. Lull, Susan A. Thompson, Leslie F. Weber,Jr. Copyright©2002

Read the whole thing.

A bibliography was created, heavily weighted to the premise proposed in the book by former PB Chilstrom and still current Secretary Lowell Erdahl that "casts same sex relations as 'life-giving' not 'life-degrading sex'." The biblio says it "discusses" but I'm sure we fairly safe in suggesting "promotes" as a simile for "blessing same-sex unions and ordination of non-celibate gays and lesbians."

Proof of the work that Chilstrom did while in office to lay groundwork for our current troubles can be found easily on the internet, newsletters by gay advocacy groups which report on him (literally) getting awards for the promotion of the cause.

Synods stocked their "Resource Rooms" with his video which promotes gay "live-giving" sex:MAY WE TALK?, "27 minutes. Features ELCA Bishop Herbert Chilstrom speaking on the issue of human sexuality. It can help congregational groups discuss human sexuality and the ELCA's proposed social statement on this subject in light of Scripture and the Lutheran understanding of Biblical interpretation. A brief outline/study guide is included."

Chilstrom promoted his cause with statements like "I believe that the arms of the ELCA are broad enough that we can allow (same sex unions) to happen in some of our churches," said the Rev. Herbert Chilstrom, one of two prominent officials asked to speak to a packed-room of church members with varying positions on homosexuality and same sex unions. Chilstrom is the former presiding bishop of the national ELCA. (read a typical story this one from Milwaukee an area that fell hook, line and sinker for gay advocacy)

I have to stop. This is too depressing to research. It is too easy to research and prove that from the time of its inception, this denomination was marked for the current troubles. What is the right word to describe the situation that the founding bishop would be the one who engineered its schism. Ironic?

I don't know. God does. As we head into what will be the most acrimonious debate ever, I pray that people do it with open eyes. The whole thing was planned. The planners have gambled that between 1987-2005 they could wear down those who didn't pass on.

Perhaps Orlando can call the question. Let this minority go.

It is truly strange that so few people have been so successful at bringing 5,000,000 to their knees.

What did Lincoln say, "You can fool all the people some of the time, some of the people all of the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time."

Herb, Mark. You are entitled to your opinion, but you were wrong and you lost. Barbara and Jeff. You are to be congratulated on always keeping the cause on canter stage. Good agitating. Now, go. Go and join another denomination, or better yet, form one with your counterparts in ECUSA's Integrity.

Read "Church, It Is Time to Move On"

You know, as a "recovering liberal" I know how easy it is to be duped. Trying to live with the purest of intentions, loving everyone, you often don't see it until its too late when you have been "took." If you want to know what Chilstrom and Hanson have fallen for:

"Personally I do not know why it is so hard for us to say clearly and simply, 'We disagree and we are not likely to agree in the near future. We are often outraged by one another. Our communion with one another is deeply impaired and even deeply flawed. We do not know how to fix it. But we believe Jesus wants us to stay together and so we're going to stay together and do as much as we can together ... For years I, among many others, have been accused of being among those who have an agenda of the acceptance of the legitimacy of homosexuality. Guilty as charged. I am absolutely guilty of promoting the acceptance of the Christian lifestyle lived among all people, including homosexual ones. I have the agenda of the church approving and blessing same-sex love and commitment. I have the agenda of the Church proclaiming that sexual orientation is not a bar to Holy Spirit inspired ministry.

'Do you have the agenda of overturning centuries of Christian teaching about homosexuality, what the Bible says about homosexuals' Pat Buchanan once asked me in a TV interview. I said something wonderfully nuanced. I should have simply said, 'Absolutely.' The Bible and the Church have both been wrong. The Holy Spirit is teaching this to us. Jesus said she would do things like this and we shouldn't be surprised when she does."

Jesus said she would do things like this?

Read the whole thing by Michael Hopkins of Integrity and click around for more epiphanies.

ELCA Churchwide Assembly, "Call the question!"

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