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."


Egocentric Culture Losing the Purpose of Marriage

Egocentric Culture Losing the Purpose of Marriage
[ECUSA] [General]
By Kathryn Hooks
August 3, 2005

(AgapePress) - The supremacy of autonomy in our society pervades every avenue of the culture -- including the institution of marriage. Same-sex marriage debates heat up the political and cultural front lines as homosexual activists argue for their rights to express their sexual feelings and normalize them through redefining marriage. While same-sex marriage claims center stage in the marriage debate, the homosexual's view of marriage as a self-serving institution is manifesting itself in heterosexual marriage trends as well.

Traditionally, society has viewed procreation and the raising of children as a central purpose for the institution of marriage, and family-centered communities have represented an integral part of the American way of life. However, this view is in decline as the national birth rate decreases and culture caters to divorce and cohabitation with little regard for the detrimental consequences children face in broken and fragile families. In July, The National Marriage Project -- an initiative located at New Jersey's Rutgers University -- released its The State of Our Unions 2005, an analysis of the state of marriage in America, and a key finding highlighted this decline in the child-centeredness of our nation's homes.

The report states Americans on average are having fewer children and currently less than 33 percent of all households include children. That compares to 1960 when slightly less than 50 percent of all households included children. It is projected that by 2010 only 28 percent of American households will include children. This declining figure and the diminishing presence of children in a majority of households inevitably results in fewer homes, neighborhoods, and communities where the interests of children hold high priority. Of the households that do contain children, a significant percentage fail to provide the stability a child needs. The report noted the increased percentage of children growing up in fragile homes due to increases in divorce, out-of-wedlock births, and unmarried cohabitation.

These trends are consistent with the evolving view that marriage and the raising of children are separate endeavors. According to one survey, as reported in the study, nearly 70 percent of Americans view the main purpose of marriage as something other than having children. The effect of this attitude is seen as more parents considering divorce decide not to hold marriages together for the sake of their children. A nationally-representative 1994 survey cited in the report found only 15 percent of the population agreed parents with children "should stay together even if they don't get along."

To Fill the Earth with His Glory …
In chapter one of the Bible, God established the first marriage creating male and female in His image, and then "[He] blessed them and said to them, 'Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it' (Genesis 1:28)." God created marriage between a man and a woman for the purpose of procreation in order to fill the earth with His glory. Deuteronomy Chapters 6 and 11 paint the home and daily family living as the training ground for teaching virtue and the ways of the Lord. It is the responsibility of parents to nurture and train children in preparation for joining and benefiting society to the furtherance of the Kingdom of God.

Overwhelming data shows the best environment in which children thrive and grow is a stable, harmonious home with both biological parents. This type of family structure is modeled in God's design and purpose for marriage.

Jesus speaks to the permanence of covenant marriage stating, "So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate (Matthew 19:6)." As taught by the apostle Paul in Philippians, covenant marriage is a model not only for children but also for the world to see Christ's relationship with the church -- one of commitment and unfailing love.

A materialistic, egocentric culture has elevated adult pleasure over the interests of children. Is it any wonder marriage lies on the brink of redefinition by the homosexual agenda when society is losing sight of the intrinsic purpose for the institution of marriage -- procreation and the raising of children? Until the truth about God's covenant design and purpose for marriage and family is taught vehemently without excuse in our church pews, schools, and communities, children will continue to suffer the consequences as the disconnect between marriage and raising children widens.

Kathryn Hooks is director of media and public relations for the American Family Association in Tupelo, Mississippi. For more information on preparing, strengthening, and restoring marriages according to God's design and purpose, she recommends a visit to the "Marriage Savers" website.

"Think about it...."

As Pietist noted, "Get this-Assemblies are going to debate if divorce by clergy is OK while ELCA debates whether gay clergy can marry...guess which denom is planting churches, sending missionaries ang growing everywhere?"

Shrimp says, "Think about it...."

Listen humans, can talk all they want about how their agenda is about revival and evangelism, the only transformation they want to do is the denomination, not the world. They will not rest until the last voice that says homosexual behavior is a sin is silenced."

Here's a story to chew on while you think about the two future scenerios foro the ELCA, a Dissenting Position One church or a Three Recommendations, relativized, local option church where hte last thing we talk about is the harm done children in divorce--what children?

"Today’s Christian denominations come in manifold sizes, structures and theological beliefs, and those differences are highlighted each summer when the groups conduct their business at nationwide gatherings.

Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2005 Posted: 1:52:50PM EST

Today’s Christian denominations come in manifold sizes, structures and theological beliefs, and those differences are highlighted each summer when the groups conduct their business at nationwide gatherings.

In August, for example, two multi-million-member denominations will be holding their biennial gatherings – and they couldn’t be more different.

The Assemblies of God, the nation’s largest Pentecostal church with 3 million members, is a loose fellowship of churches that are headed by a General Superintendent. Their gathering will be about business – they have exactly 15 dockets prepared – but more so about fellowship, friendship and family rest.

“Let me encourage you to do several things: Be pleasant. Be courteous. Be watchful for the opportunity to testify to the unsaved. Be generous with those who serve us. Smile,” a statement from the A/G Superintendent, Thomas Trask, reads.

Of the proposed dockets, the most controversial is the first one, which considers whether divorced or remarried persons are fit to serve as clergy.

“Scripture clearly states that ministers of the gospel are to be above reproach in all matters of life and conduct and that our theology should shape our culture instead of our theology being shaped by our culture,” the resolution reads. “Scripture teaches that ministers should be the husband or wife of but one living spouse.”

It resolves that the church disapproves “of any married person holding ministerial credentials with the Assemblies of God or district councils granting credentials to such, if either marriage partner has a former spouse living, unless the divorce occurred prior to his or her conversion except as hereinafter provided.”

In other words, to protect the natural family structure, ministers should not divorce their spouse after coming into the denomination unless the spouse is dead.

The five-million-member Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, meanwhile, is considering several resolutions that stand at the other end of the theological pole.

The most controversial are a set of three resolutions on homosexuality that would essentially leave the issue of ordaining sexually active homosexuals up to individual bishops and priest.

The resolutions on homosexuality were developed as part of a years-long project called the “ELCA Studies on Sexuality.” The third and most controversial proposal would “create a process for the sake of outreach” that would allow gay or lesbians living in a monogamous relationship to be ordained in the church. The second resolution is also likely to stir debate since it tackles the issue of blessing same-sex unions by leaving that up to the discretion of individual bishops.

The A/G General Council begins today in Denver, Colo., while the ELCA Churchwide Assembly starts on August 8 in Orlando, Fla.

Pauline J. Chang

ELCA Prepares to Vote on Three Issues Related to Homosexuality

By Jim Brown
August 2, 2005

(AgapePress) - The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is getting set to vote on whether to drop its ban on practicing homosexual clergy.

When the ELCA General Assembly convenes next week in Orlando, the denomination will decide whether to allow bishops and synods to make exceptions for the ordination of certain active homosexuals. The denomination will also be voting on a proposal regarding pastoral care for same-sex couples, and a recommendation calling for unity despite disagreements over what the Bible says about homosexuality.

Dr. Roy Harrisville, who heads the conservative group Solid Rock Lutherans, says to allow exceptions to church policy and Bible teaching means the church is immediately split. "We think it's a recipe for disunity, not for unity," Harrisville says. "[I]f the church is seeking to find some ground on which to stand with unity, that's not going to be it."

The conservative Lutheran leader believes instead of pondering whether to approve homosexual clergy, the ELCA should focus on its "Renewing Worship" program, which includes new hymnals, worship styles, prayers, and services.

"As the church prays, so it believes. And the way we worship, of course, always determines the character of the church," he says. "Unfortunately, however, we have talked very little about this new hymnal and these new services."

Harrisville notes of the three recommendations related to homosexuality the church-wide assembly will consider in Orlando, the one on exceptional homosexual ordinations has received the most opposition in synod assemblies this year. That is why he doubts the General Assembly will approve the recommendation as it is written now.

In a newsletter released by Harrisville's group, a Washington pastor who serves as a board member of Solid Rock Lutherans described the upcoming vote on homosexual ordination as "the ELCA's Gene Robinson moment." Robinson is the openly homosexual bishop consecrated by the Episcopal Church USA in November 2003 -- an act that has caused a major rift in the worldwide Anglican Church.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

False Doctrine, Heresy & Schism
“From all false doctrine, heresy and schism, Good Lord, deliver us”. This petition from the Litany in the Book of Common Prayer expresses the hope of faithful Christians in every age, and has especial resonance today for the Anglican Church of Canada. We hope that the questions and answers listed below will help to clarify our current situation, and put these events and issues into theological, historical and ecclesiastical perspective.

Revd. Dr. Robert Crouse
Revd. David Curry
Revd. Gavin Dunbar
Rt. Revd. Malcolm Harding
Rt. Revd. Donald Harvey
Revd. Dr. Murray Henderson
Revd. Dr. James Packer
Revd. Dr. David Short
Dr. Diana Verseghy

How grave a matter, theologically, is the blessing of same-sex unions?

As many theologians have pointed out, it represents a serious departure from historic Christianity, one which cannot be reconciled with any reasonable interpretation of Scripture. By consensus the universal Church from its earliest days ruled out homosexual unions, whether casual encounters or more long-term relationships, that involved behaviour analogous to heterosexual intercourse. It was acknowledged that the Bible forbids such behaviour as distorting the order of God's creation and so as displeasing to God himself. The whole church until very recently practised pastoral care according to this understanding, and sought by all means to help people maintain the chastity of sexual abstinence outside heterosexual marriage, which is the only form of marriage that Scripture recognizes.

The general verdict is that those currently arguing for change here have not established their case biblically and theologically. The Primates’ communiqué of 2005 asked that both the Episcopal Church in the USA and the Anglican Church of Canada give the Anglican Consultative Council a theologically-based rationale of the synodical action taken, or attempted, in this matter.

How can we put this into context? What kinds of other divisive doctrinal issues have faced the Christian church in the past?

Separation from the universal Church, and in an already divided Christendom from one’s own branch of that Church, may take three forms: apostasy, heresy or schism. Apostasy, the most serious, refers to a full, intentional abandonment of the Christian faith. Heresy means an intentional rejection by word and deed of a fundamental truth that the Church has officially and consensually affirmed (for example in the creeds). Schism means a separation from the wider Church through unwillingness to be bound by the discipline of unity. (Schism is characteristically precipitated by some form of heterodoxy, false teaching, on the part of the schismatic faction. This faction, rather than the orthodox majority or minority who cannot now in conscience walk with them, is then the true schismatic.)

One must recognize that not all forms of false teaching are serious enough to lead to schism. The historic, biblically based Anglican ideal is of a consensus on doctrinal fundamentals shared by bishops, clergy and laity, with freedom to challenge and debate any view advocated by anyone that appears to lack biblical justification. All of those holding office in the church are human and fallible, and may fall into error. Charity demands that we must not ourselves be the cause of inflicting further wounds on the Body of Christ. Patience in working through the discipline of dialogue with debate is constantly required.

Where on this doctrinal spectrum does the issue of same-sex blessings fit?

Certainly it does not fall into the category of apostasy. Various individuals who favour it do not perceive the doctrinal problems involved and are still honestly trying to hold to creedal Christianity. Neither is it heresy in the technical, theological sense, since it does not violate a particular, authoritatively defined dogma of the undivided Church. It is a type of heterodoxy, false teaching.

As to what degree of heterodoxy is involved, it has been noted above that same-sex behaviour analogous to heterosexual intercourse is uniformly proscribed in Scripture and in the tradition of the Church. Moreover, other branches of creedal Christianity have expressed their grave concern over this issue. The Russian Orthodox Church and other Orthodox bodies broke ties with the Episcopal Church in the USA subsequent to the consecration of Gene Robinson. The Roman Catholic Church suspended ecumenical dialogue with the entire Anglican Communion, until the publication of the Windsor Report and the assurance given by the Primates’ meeting that the traditional Christian understanding of sexuality and marriage remain the teaching of our Communion.

On whether this issue is serious enough to warrant a schism within Anglicanism, some have argued that anything that has not been authoritatively stated by creeds and councils of the early Church is “adiaphora”, a matter indifferent, and should not be thought to justify any restricting of church communion. But it is not true that Anglicanism has no doctrine outside of the Creeds. From the Thirty-Nine Articles to the last Lambeth Conference, Anglican doctrines on various points have been articulated from time to time. Anglicanism allows for latitude in belief on a number of issues, but seeks always to uphold the primacy of Scripture, explicated and applied by sanctified reason and the tradition of the Church.

And the stated consensus of the Anglican Communion, expressed through the Windsor Report and the Primates’ communiqué, is that same-sex blessings is not an issue on which one province can move forward without breaking or impairment of communion. This constitutes a solemn warning that formal approval of same-sex blessing will in fact be regarded by the Anglican Communion as a schismatic act on the part of the Canadian church. The time frame that has been specified is until 2008, when the next Lambeth Conference takes place; the implication being that it will be there that a formal decision will be taken regarding the continuing membership of the ACC in the Anglican Communion."

Gotta love those activist judges!

Firms must treat domestic partners like married pairs, top state court says
Bob Egelko, San Francisco Chronicle Staff Writer

Tuesday, August 2, 2005
California businesses must treat same-sex domestic partners the same as married couples, the state Supreme Court ruled Monday in the case of a golf club that denied a family membership to a lesbian couple.

The unanimous ruling was the court's first on the state's domestic partner law, which took effect this year and granted to registered partners most of the rights of spouses under state law.

Jon Davidson, legal director of the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund and lawyer for the couple in the case, called the ruling "an important recognition of our humanity.''

While it was a victory for the 27,000 couples who have registered with the state as domestic partners, it fell short of the broad anti-discrimination mandate sought by their advocates.

The justices crafted a narrow decision and sidestepped arguments by Davidson and other gay-rights lawyers that a business policy favoring married couples discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation -- similar to arguments raised in a separate case challenging California's ban on same-sex marriage. There was no need to address that issue in this case, the court said Monday, because no evidence was offered that the golf club's policy was intended to discriminate against gays and lesbians.

Instead, the justices said the Unruh Act, a California law requiring businesses to treat customers equally, prohibits discrimination against registered domestic partners.

California first established a registry for domestic partners -- same- sex couples of any age and opposite-sex couples in which one partner is older than 62 -- in 1999. The law at first provided only limited benefits, including the right of hospital visitation, but was expanded this year to become the broadest such measure in the nation. It grants the equivalent of spousal status, except for joint tax filing under state law and the numerous rights of married couples under federal law. Monday's ruling extended the requirement of equal treatment to businesses.

Two initiatives being circulated for next year's state ballot would repeal the domestic partner law and also would write California's current ban on same-sex marriage into the state Constitution, derailing a case now on its way to the state's high court.

Monday's decision "raises the stakes in the pending initiatives, those that are preserving marriage along with the essence of marriage,'' said attorney Matthew Staver of Liberty Counsel, which represents sponsors of one of the proposed ballot measures.

The rest of the article here

A collection of understatements and other things in Christian Century

"When the ELCA Task Force on Human Sexuality announced its findings in January, the panel emphasized that it took a "pastoral approach" for the sake of outreach and ongoing dialogue. But the task force was criticized for recommending that the church may "choose to refrain" from punishing congregations for calling as pastors otherwise qualified gay or lesbian candidates.

"It was not well-received," said Stanley Olson, executive director of the ELCA Division for Ministry. "It was perceived as too nebulous."

The approach was recast in April by the 37-member Church Council, which acts as a board of directors between biennial assemblies. The council proposed that instead of withholding disciplinary actions, the church "may permit exceptions to the expectations regarding sexual conduct for gay or lesbian candidates . . . in life-long, committed and faithful same-sex relationships."

The ELCA standard says pastors must be married to someone of the opposite sex or be celibate if single. Under the exception, a premium would be placed on a homosexual minister's "evidence of intent" to live in a faithful partnership.

The ELCA already makes occasional exceptions on ordinations. Normally, a seminary graduate cannot be ordained unless a congregation invites him or her to be a pastor and the minister serves at least three years in pastoral ministry. Exceptions are sometimes made for graduates who have special opportunities in missions, teaching or administration, officials say.

Barbara R. Rossing, associate professor of New Testament at the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago, said that the "exceptions" route "was a brilliant way to go because I think it claims the middle."

In April, Rossing and faculty colleague Ralph W. Klein coauthored a short statement supporting the task force recommendations and getting 63 signatures from those they called "teaching theologians." The statement, now endorsed by more than 100 signers, said the task force recommendations "represent a much-needed and faithful compromise for this moment in the life of the church."

The Klein-Rossing statement took issue with an earlier statement signed by 17 theologians—including Carl E. Braaten, William G. Rusch, William H. Lazareth and Robert W. Jenson—who rejected the task force recommendations on ecclesiastical, pastoral and theological grounds.

The 17 said the task force "advocates a fundamental shift in policy" that would harm the church as "an effective collaborator" with the Lutheran World Federation and would sow "division and disunity at the local level."

One of the 17, Robert Benne of Roanoke College in Salem, Virginia, writing in the July issue of The Lutheran magazine, criticized the recommendation as rewritten by the Church Council.

By allowing exceptions, the proposal "bows to those who believe traditional teaching should be revised," wrote Benne. "It uses the acceptance of divorced and remarried clergy as a parallel to the acceptance of partnered gay clergy . . . a dubious analogy because divorced clergy don't argue that divorce is right and therefore keep divorcing."

Proponents of accepting gays in ministry commonly note that while the churches have found ways to allow divorce and remarriage, despite Jesus' words to the contrary, the same churches resist change on homosexuality, an issue not addressed by Jesus.

Some of the rationale used in April by the Church Council resembled arguments in a joint proposal issued in March by bishops Paul Rogness of St. Paul, Minnesota, and Steven L. Ullestad of Iowa. While there are many in the ELCA, perhaps a majority, who believe homosexual activity is always a sin, the two bishops wrote, there are Lutherans, lay and ordained, "who believe we are at a time in history where we have come to know that homosexuality is a condition, not a choice, but simply a given that is often discovered as a person grows."

To Jeff Johnson, the openly gay pastor of the University Lutheran Chapel at the University of California at Berkeley, "the trajectory of the church is clearly moving in a progressive direction."

His bishop, David G. Mullen, has chosen not to remove at least 13 openly gay, lesbian or bisexual pastors serving in the Sierra Pacific Synod, said Johnson, who cochairs Good Soil, a Lutheran gay alliance. "The current policy of the church really serves no one," Johnson said.

"The progressive wing is frustrated and unsatisfied because the policies intimidate a class of people unjustly," he said. "The conservative wing is frustrated because the policies are inconsistently followed or ignored."

The seven-day assembly in Florida "will decide whether the ELCA fragments in a serious fashion or not," said Roy A. Harrisville III of St. Paul, executive director of the conservative Solid Rock Lutherans group.

"This is our Gene Robinson moment," said Harrisville, referring to turmoil in Anglican churches created in 2003 by the Episcopal Church's approval of the election of a gay man as Episcopal bishop of New Hampshire."

The whole article here.

The good ship ELCA...

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