Sunday, July 30, 2006

What is the ELCA getting our of "Full Communion" with TEC?

Bono, it appears, but not a personal appearance, just a video...


July 29, 2006

Lisandro Orlov, Bono Highlight ELCA Global Mission Event Session

AMHERST, Mass. (ELCA) -- The church must be the place where
all people can find their home including those who are often
outcast, said the Rev. Lisandro Orlov, United Evangelical
Lutheran Church of Argentina and Latin American regional
coordinator, Lutheran World Federation (LWF) HIV/AIDS campaign.
Orlov was a speaker to some 1,300 participants at the 2006 Global
Mission Event (GME) of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
(ELCA) during a July 29 plenary session.
Co-sponsored by the Episcopal Church and endorsed by the
Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, the event brings together
participants of all ages from the United States and around the
world July 27-30 here at the University of Massachusetts. The
GME features plenary and workshop sessions, keynote presenters,
global music and worship under the theme "Sent! by God's grace
for the sake of the world."
"Are we really open to all who are different than us?" Orlov
asked his audience. He challenged participants to be an
alternative voice in the world. "We are the church of the amazing
grace of God," he said. "Our mission is to say to all people,
'You are citizens of the kingdom of God.'"
A video message from Bono, of the musical group U2,
encouraged participants to commit to the work of the ONE campaign
against poverty and hunger. "God is in the slums; God is in the
cries heard under the rubble of war," Bono said in the video.
"One of things I'm most proud of in my life now is to see the
church work for justice as well as charity."
The ONE Campaign is an effort supported by the ELCA, the
Episcopal Church and other organizations to rally Americans to
the cause of ending poverty and achieving the eight Millennium
Development Goals (MDGs): eradicate extreme poverty and hunger;
achieve universal primary education; promote gender equality and
empower women; reduce child mortality; improve maternal health;
combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases; ensure environmental
sustainability; and create a global partnership for development.
The session included a panel discussion addressing the role
of the church in the fulfillment of the MDGs and issues of
poverty and hunger around the world, featuring: Alex Baumgartner,
the Episcopal Church Office of Government Relations, New York;
Emily Freeburg, Lutheran Office for World Community, New York;
Kim Stietz, director for international policy, ELCA Washington
Office, Washington, D.C.; and Mary F. Brennan, world mission
interpretation and networks officer, the Episcopal Church, who
"I really believe that we're the first generation that can
end extreme poverty," Freeburg told participants, calling
especially on the young people in the audience to "take this
challenge to heart and live it."
"Our church is deeply committed to the MDGs," Baumgartner
said, adding that listening to Orlov and the Scripture reading
"really put me in mind of the fact that the church is an
institution that can't have walls whatsoever. It can't have
Stietz echoed the other panelists' support of the MDGs. "I
think historically our churches as institutions have been very
engaged and doing very well with charity and giving to our
brothers and sisters throughout the world," she said, explaining
that advocacy is different than traditional charity and giving.
"It's using your voice in total engagement to make lasting, just
change." Stietz challenged participants to consider advocacy as
part of "our DNA as Lutherans, as well as Episcopalians."
The Rev. Randall R. Lee, executive, ELCA Ecumenical and
Inter-Religious Relations, opened the session, highlighting the
full communion relationship between the ELCA and Episcopal
Church. "One of the fruits of our full communion relationship
with the Episcopal Church is this gathering itself, and the work
that we do together to further the mission of God in the world,"
he said.
Information about the 2006 ELCA Global Mission Event is at on the ELCA Web site.

Information about the Episcopal Church is at on the Web.

*Katherine R. Hinck is a senior journalism and religion major at
Augustana College, Sioux Falls, S.D. This summer she is an
intern with the ELCA News Service.

For information contact:
John Brooks, Director (773) 380-2958 or

Friday, July 28, 2006

Ah, the wonderful world of the potentially participatory...

Shrimp here: It must take a special breed of human person to be a bishop. Or there is some place where they go to learn bishopspeak? Read this official new release to see what I mean: two bishops, two cases of bishopspeak.


July 28, 2006

Presiding Bishops Hanson, Griswold Address ELCA Global Mission Event

AMHERST, Mass. (ELCA) -- The Rev. Mark S. Hanson, presiding
bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA),
Chicago, invited participants at the opening celebration of the
ELCA Global Mission Event (GME) here July 27 to "join in the
struggle to accompany one another as we walk in the light of
Christ, seeing each other in the image of God."
Co-sponsored by The Episcopal Church and endorsed by the
Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, some 1,300 participants of
all ages from the United States and around the world are meeting
here July 27-30. The event features plenary sessions, a "Global
Fest" with food and music from cultures around the world, keynote
presenters, Global University workshop sessions, global music and
worship. The theme for this year's event is "Sent! by God's
grace for the sake of the world."
Hanson encouraged participants to ask themselves "what it
means to be sent, to participate in God's mission for the sake of
the world," he said. "What if from the moment of our first
breath until our last dying gasp, our self-understanding was that
we bear the image of God to live in community as God's guests,
stewards of the mysteries of God's grace?"
Hanson addressed the global perceptions of North Americans.
"Most Americans want to be seen as a generous and freedom loving
people, but that's not how we are seen so often today," he said.
Rather than being seen as stewards of God's creation, "we
are seen increasingly as a people preoccupied with our economic
power and mesmerized by our military might," he said. "We see
creation, not as God's gracious place of hospitality to us, God's
gracious guests, but as the object of our consumption to satisfy
our endless needs."
Hanson urged participants to "to be engaged in God's mission
of reconciliation together as fellow guests, walking in the light
of Christ, walking in the way of Christ," he said. "In the
promise of the gospel, you and I are welcomed and sent as God's
guests. What a holy calling it is that we share."
The Most Rev. Frank Griswold, presiding bishop of The
Episcopal Church, New York, also spoke during the opening
session, reiterating a message of reconciliation to GME
participants. "The mission we share is for the sake of the
world," he said. "It is important that we always remember that."
Drawing from the Gospel of John, Griswold said, "The whole
of Christ's life is working the work of the Father," and that
work is a "massive, undeniable act of reconciliation."
Griswold urged participants to "approach everyone as
potentially revelatory of Christ," because Christ is present
everywhere, adding that Christ's power is made perfect in
"At this Global Mission Event our Episcopal brothers and
sisters join us" as well as the Evangelical Lutheran Church in
Canada, said the Rev. Rafael Malpica-Padilla, executive director,
ELCA Global Mission, Chicago. The ELCA and The Episcopal Church
entered into a full communion relationship in 1999. "We
acknowledge the gift of unity given to us by Jesus Christ," he
The opening celebration featured dance, music and languages
from around the world.
Information about the ELCA Global Mission Event is at on the ELCA Web site.

*Katherine R. Hinck is a senior journalism and religion major at
Augustana College, Sioux Falls, S.D. This summer she is an
intern with the ELCA News Service.

For information contact:
John Brooks, Director (773) 380-2958 or

OK? Read this again: Hanson encouraged participants to ask themselves "what it means to be sent, to participate in God's mission for the sake of the world," he said. "What if from the moment of our first breath until our last dying gasp, our self-understanding was that we bear the image of God to live in community as God's guests, stewards of the mysteries of God's grace?"

I don't know about you, but when our little shrimps are getting that first breath, they say, "WAAAH!" Not "Hi Mommy, Hi Daddy, how are we bearing our images of God today?" And at our "last, gesping breath" we are pleading with God for forgiveness, not reflecting on our "self-understanding".

And the other guy?

Griswold said, "The whole of Christ's life is a... "massive, undeniable act of reconciliation." Funny stuff from a guy who is overseeing schismatic children of "Mother Jesus."

Personally, I like "approaching everyone as potentially revelatory of Christ" if that includes crustacaens." Also, I really like the emphasis of including recycling as missionary activity.

But I have to tell you humans, if you want to be sent out into the world, you might talk a little more about the cross being the way that Jesus' "massive reconciliation" is done, not by eating more ethnic food, and you might try preaching Christ, and Him crucified, over the "stewards of the mysteries of God's grace" thingie. The former brings conviction of sin and the latter brings either a yawn or a "Huh?" from people who do not yet know Jesus.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Following the link?

Shrimp here: So you were reading The Lutheran online and you saw the blurb about Shrimp, clicked and here you are. But where are you? Forget what you have heard about blogs (there are many kinds) about "dissenters" (ditto, but don't even get me started about what a bad move The Lutheran made listening to Almen and Hanson about a strategy to try and make the faithful, loyal opposition look as though we are the liars) and definitely. Also, if you think that Shrimp is some mean ol' conservative pastor who would be better off in the Wisconsin Synod or something, think again (for one thing, I am a crustacean and I resent any references to being a human being).

Think of this blog as a library where you have a nonhuman research assistant to lead you to the truth about what God says about human sexuality. This is not a blog where you come to debate stuff, but one to come to and get information. Say you are someone who has been asked by your congregation or synod to serve on some such thing and the subject of "partnered homosexuals" or "blessings gay unions" comes up. Some of your friends and family say one thing, some say another. Peruse the archives or use the search function. You will find out that the pro-GLBT (that's gay, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered—and BTW if you can tell me how a bisexual can be monogamous I'm waiting years to find out) advocacy has been doing at best wishful thinking but more likely showing that their loyalty is not to the ELCA, to "church" or anything other than "personal preferences" or a "progressive political peer pressure."

But, again, the big issue is not gay marriage. Recently the Washington and New York state supreme courts have ruled there is no such thing. Like the Episcopal bishop in Arkansas, we will have to admit that it goes against the laws of the land and the official policies of the denomination, but if you want to go ahead and do it we won't say a word.

But worse than that, so much worse, it really comes down to God. What did God say? Does anyone really think they can rewrite Scripture? Apparently some do. And apparently the big deal in the year ahead is if Mark Hanson can convince the ELCA that contextual theology, the belief that every generation must determine what the Bible says, is a faithful expression of Lutheran theology.

Well, it would take a lobotomy for me to think that my sinful generation can set itself up against 2,000 years of tradition. I know a cultural cave-in when I see one and surely you must also.

It is up to the side that promotes a change in policy to prove their case. The pro-GLBT advocacy has so far been unable to do it, and this they themselves must admit that they have failed.

So go back through the archives, follow the links, it's all there.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Washington Supreme Court upholds state's gay marriage ban

by The Associated Press

OLYMPIA, Wash. - The state Supreme Court in Washington state upheld a ban on gay marriage Wednesday -- saying lawmakers have the power to restrict marriage to heterosexual couples.

The lawsuits the court ruled on had sought to make Washington only the second state to grant full marriage rights to gay and lesbian couples.

The Washington court's decision is just the latest in a series of significant court rulings on the issue in recent weeks, most falling in favor of opponents.

Courts reinstated voter-approved bans on gay marriage in Nebraska and Georgia earlier this month. Tennessee's Supreme Court ruled that voters there should have a say on allowing gay marriage.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The Nigerians Are Coming!

The rift in the Anglican Church comes to Northern Virginia.
by Mark D. Tooley

THE ACCELERATING RIFT over homosexuality in the nearly 80 million member global Anglican Communion has finally reached directly into the Washington, D.C. area.

A conservative Episcopal priest in suburban Fairfax, Virginia, has been elected a bishop by the 18 million member Anglican church of Nigeria. The Rev. Martyn Minns of the 1,700 member Truro Church in Fairfax City will preside over the handful of churches for Nigerian expatriates in the United States. But more may ultimately be involved.

Also last month, Truro Church informed Virginia Bishop Peter Lee that it is entering a 40 day time of "discernment" over its relations with the U.S. denomination. Other large Episcopal churches in Virginia besides Truro, including the historic 2,000 member Falls Church, are likewise considering their ties to U.S. Episcopalianism.

"We will be seeking God's will about whether continued affiliation with the Episcopal Church is compatible with Scripture and with our affiliation with the global Anglican Communion," Senior Associate Rector Frederick Wright announced to the Falls Church congregation. "As Anglicans, we would not expect to become an 'independent' congregation," he explained, but would affiliate with "another Anglican body."

More than 20 other Virginia congregations may belong to what Rev. Wright called a "coalition of churches" seeking discernment. Both Truro and the Falls Church date to the mid-1700s--George Washington joined in the creation of both. The Falls Church, for which the surrounding city was later named, also retains its sanctuary, which was built in the 1760s. The Declaration of Independence was read from its steps. During the Civil War, Union soldiers desecrated the sanctuary, using it as a stable.

Truro Church lost its earlier sanctuaries to the Civil War and fire. But its current office space housed Union General William Stoughton until that he was abruptly awakened and captured by the Confederate partisan John Mosby, who also made off with a gaggle of Union horses. ("I can replace the general, but I cannot replace those horses," Abraham Lincoln is said to have remarked.)

WHY ARE THESE venerable old Episcopal congregations pondering a departure from their denomination after 200 years? And why is the Anglican Church of Nigeria in the picture?

Three years ago the U.S. Episcopal Church elected its first openly homosexual bishop, Gene Robinson. Forty percent of the denomination's bishops voted against Robinson. But Virginia Bishop Peter Lee supported him and has likened the acceptance of homosexuality in the church to the civil rights movement in the 1960s.

Conservative dioceses and congregations appealed to the global Anglican Communion, which is headed by the Archbishop of Canterbury in England and includes Global South bishops. Unlike the declining U.S. church, which has lost 1 million members over the last 40 years, these Third World churches are surging. Anglicans in Nigeria alone outnumber U.S. Episcopalians by nearly 10 to 1.

The global Anglican Communion had asked the U.S. church to abstain from electing more homosexual bishops. But the Episcopal General Convention, meeting last month in Columbus, Ohio, elected a new presiding bishop who is firmly committed to homosexual clergy and church rites for same-sex unions. Conservative Episcopalians realized that compromise had become impossible. Many of them now hope that the Archbishop of Canterbury will eventually acknowledge a new Anglican church in North America that would exist alongside--or perhaps even supercede--the old Episcopal Church.

Churches like Truro and the Falls Church, along with other conservative congregations in Virginia, are robustly evangelical--and growing. They do not wish to remain indefinitely in an increasingly liberal U.S. Episcopal Church.

Surely George Washington, George Mason, and other prominent Northern Virginia Anglicans never conceived of Episcopal debates over homosexuality when they founded their churches. The Episcopal Church even managed to avoid schism over slavery and during the Civil War. Anglicanism in Virginia has survived since Jamestown in 1607.

But conservative Episcopalians have chaffed for decades under liberal church leaders who disregarded historic Christian beliefs about sexual ethics, the Bible, and even the identity of Jesus Christ. To continue an orthodox Anglican presence in Virginia, many conservatives want to de-align from the declining liberal religion in the United States and re-align with growing Christianity in the Global South.

The end result may be that much of Virginia Episcopalianism will end up looking to Nigeria, rather than Richmond, for leadership. The slave-owning Episcopal gentry of 18th century Virginia would be shocked. But the irony is an enjoyable one.

Mark D. Tooley directs the United Methodist committee at the Institute on Religion and Democracy.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Bishop Larry Maze of the Diocese of Arkansas announces in a letter to

Doo doo doo-doo doo doo doo doo
Doo doo doo-doo doo doo doo doo
Doo doo doo-doo doo doo doo doo

This next song has been requested by Bishop Larry Maze of the Diocese of Arkansas in honor of his announcement to his clergy that if they feel like blessing, go and bless 'em. Doesn't matter if its against the law of the land or the mind of th eChurch, you go you rebels you. Get your rebel thing on...

"Neither the General Convention nor the Diocese of Arkansas has produced or
approved official rites for the blessing of same-sex unions. Nor is same-sex
marriage a possibility in the State of Arkansas. No congregation, vestry, or
priest is expected to interpret the pastoral concern and care of the Church
for gay and lesbian persons in a way that includes the possibility of formal
rites of blessing. However, those that do, have permission to proceed to
work as a congregation to come to clarity around the issues involved when
the Church blesses anything or anyone. If a couple seeks blessing in that
congregation, they will join in that exploration much to the benefit of the
congregation and the couple. This is a pastoral response and it is expected
that each case will reflect the uniqueness of the congregation and the
couple involved. It is expected that the Bishop will be informed of each
process, receive a report of work done, and see any liturgy that is produced
before proceeding with a blessing rite."

You've got your mother in a whirl
Shes not sure if youre a boy or a girl
Hey babe, your hairs alright
Hey babe, lets go out tonight
You like me, and I like it all
We like dancing and we look divine
You love bands when theyre playing hard
You want more and you want it fast
They put you down, they say Im wrong
You tacky thing, you put them on

Rebel rebel, youve torn your dress
Rebel rebel, your face is a mess
Rebel rebel, how could they know?
Hot tramp, I love you so!

Dont ya?
Doo doo doo-doo doo doo doo doo

Youve got your mother in a whirl cause shes
Not sure if youre a boy or a girl
Hey babe, your hairs alright
Hey babe, lets stay out tonight
You like me, and I like it all
We like dancing and we look divine
You love bands when theyre playing hard
You want more and you want it fast
They put you down, they say Im wrong
You tacky thing, you put them on

Rebel rebel, youve torn your dress
Rebel rebel, your face is a mess
Rebel rebel, how could they know?
Hot tramp, I love you so!

Dont ya?

Doo doo doo-doo doo doo doo doo
Doo doo doo-doo doo doo doo doo

Rebel rebel, youve torn your dress
Rebel rebel, your face is a mess
Rebel rebel, how could they know?
Hot tramp, I love you so!

Youve torn your dress, your face is a mess
You cant get enough, but enough aint the test
Youve got your transmission and your live wire
You got your cue line and a handful of ludes
You wanna be there when they count up the dudes
And I love your dress
Youre a juvenile success
Because your face is a mess
So how could they know?
I said, how could they know?

So what you wanna know
Calamitys child, chi-chile, chi-chile
Whered you wanna go?
What can I do for you? looks like youve been there too
cause youve torn your dress
And your face is a mess
Oh, your face is a mess
Oh, oh, so how could they know?
Eh, eh, how could they know?
Eh, eh

See Stand Firm

Families Without Children

Families Without Children

PISCATAWAY, New Jersey, JULY 22, 2006 ( Life without children is a growing social reality for an increasing number of American adults.

This is the conclusion of the 2006 edition of "The State of Our Unions" report on marriage, released last week by the National Marriage Project. The project is based at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey.

Up until recently, for most people, the greater part of adult life was spent with young children forming part of the household. A combination of marrying later, less children and longer life expectancy means, however, that a significantly greater part of adult life is spent without kids being in the house.

The report, titled "Life Without Children," was authored by Barbara Dafoe Whitehead and David Popenoe. They start by noting how many recent publications complain of the difficulties in raising children. Many surveys also show that parents report lower levels of happiness compared to non-parents. In fact, an increasing number of married couples now see children as an obstacle to their marital happiness.

This isn't to say that children are rejected by the majority of couples. Nevertheless, there is a growing feeling of trepidation about taking on the responsibilities of parenthood. Of course, bringing up kids has never been easy, but there are good reasons why a growing number of parents are feeling increased pressures, the report explains.

A weakening of marriage bonds contributes to the difficulties of having children. Cohabiting women, the report explains, may postpone childbearing until they have a better sense of the long-term future of the relationship. If they wait too long, however, this places them at risk for never having children. Being in an unhappy marriage is another source of uncertainty. Couples who are worried about getting divorced are the most likely to remain childless.

Changing families

Citing Census Bureau reports, Whitehead and Popenoe lay out just how much family structures have changed.

-- In 1970 the median age of first marriage for women was just under 21years-old. The age of first marriage has now risen to just short of 26. Women who have a four-year college degree marry at an even later age.

-- In 1970, 73.6% of women, ages 25-29, had already entered their child-rearing years and were living with at least one minor child of their own. By 2000, this share dropped to 48.7%. For men in the same age bracket in 1970, 57.3% lived with their own children in the household. In 2000 this had plummeted to 28.8%.

-- In 1960, 71% of married women had their first child within the first 3 years of marriage. By 1990, this almost halved, to 37%. So after getting married, couples now experience a greater number of child-free years.

-- In 1970, 27.4% of women and 39.5% of men, ages 50-54, had at least one minor child of their own in the household. By 2000, the shares had fallen to 15.4% and 24.7%, respectively.

-- In addition, a growing number of women are not having any children. In 2004, almost one out of five women in their early forties was childless. In 1976, it was only one out of ten.

-- The proportion of households with children has declined from half of all households in 1960 to less than one-third today -- the lowest in America's history.

In general, then, a few decades ago life before children was brief, with little time between the end of schooling and the beginning of marriage and family life. Life after children was also reduced, with few years left before the end of work and the beginning of old age.

Less fun

Contemporary culture has quickly reflected the changes in family life, the report observes. It is increasingly common to find the years spent raising children portrayed as being less satisfying compared to the years before and after.

Adult life without children is depicted as having positive meaning and purpose, and as being full of fun and freedom. Life with children, by contrast, is seen as full of pressures and responsibilities.

In general, life without children is characterized by a focus on the self. "Indeed, the cultural injunction for the childless young and the child-free old is to 'take care of yourself,'" the report comments.

The years spent bringing up children is just the opposite. Being a parent means focusing on those who are dependent and subordinating adult needs to the requirements of the children.

By way of compensation traditional culture normally celebrated the work and sacrifice of parents, but this has now changed. Increasingly, the popular image of parents is a negative one. The new stereotypes range from the hyper-competitive sports parents who scream at their own kids, to those who ignore the problems their undisciplined children cause for others in public places.

The latest variant are the so-called "helicopter parents," who get their name from the way they supposedly hover over their children and swoop down to rescue them from any negative consequences of their behavior.

Television programs have long made fun of fathers, notes the report. More recently mothers are also being shown as unfit, unable to carry out their responsibilities without the help of a nanny, or as being over-indulgent and negligent.

By contrast a number of the most popular television shows in America in recent years, such as "Friends" and "Sex and the City," celebrated the glamorous life of young urban singles.

Bias against children

What does this portend for the future, the report asks. For a start, less political support for families. In the last presidential election, parents made up slightly less than 40% of the electorate. Less votes translates into less support for funding of schools and youth activities. Already a number of communities across the nation are trying to hold down property taxes by restricting the construction of affordable single family housing.

In cultural terms the bias against children is likely to grow. Entertainment and pastimes for adults -- gambling, pornography and sex -- is one of the fastest growing and most lucrative, and exciting, sectors of the economy.

By contrast, being a devoted parent is increasingly subject to a ruthless debunking, the report notes. In fact, the task of being a mother is now seen by a growing number as being unworthy of an educated women's time and talents. So the more staid values supportive of raising children -- sacrifice, stability, dependability, maturity -- will receive less attention.

"It is hard enough to rear children in a society that is organized to support that essential social task," the report observes. "Consider how much more difficult it becomes when a society is indifferent at best, and hostile, at worst, to those who are caring for the next generation," it concludes.

The family, "founded on indissoluble marriage between a man and a woman," is where men and women "are enabled to be born with dignity, and to grow and develop in an integral manner," explained the Pope in his homily concluding the World Meeting of Families in Valencia, Spain, on July 9.

"The joyful love with which our parents welcomed us and accompanied our first steps in this world is like a sacramental sign and prolongation of the benevolent love of God from which we have come," he noted.

This experience of being welcomed and loved by God and by our parents, explained Benedict XVI, "is always the firm foundation for authentic human growth and authentic development, helping us to mature on the way towards truth and love, and to move beyond ourselves in order to enter into communion with others and with God." A foundation that is increasingly being undermined in today's society.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Same-Sex Marriage Pioneers Separate

BOSTON (AP) -- The lesbian couple whose lawsuit led to legal same-sex marriage in Massachusetts have announced they have separated.

"Julie and Hillary Goodridge are amicably living apart," Mary Breslauer, a local political consultant, said Thursday night on their behalf. Breslauer declined to comment on how long they had been separated or whether the couple planned to divorce.

The Goodridges were among seven gay couples whose lawsuit helped thrust Massachusetts into the center of a nationwide debate on gay marriage. The state's Supreme Judicial Court issued its narrow 4-3 ruling in November 2003 in their favor - saying gays and lesbians had a right under the state constitution to wed.

The Goodridges were married May 17, 2004, the first day same-sex marriages became legal under the court ruling, by a Unitarian Universalist minister. Their daughter, Annie, now 10, served as ring-bearer and flower girl.

Rest here.

An Episcopal Priest Writes His Parish

A good defense for the traditionalist perspective...

Father Dow Sanderson Writes His Parish

From the Rector’s Desk…

From all blindness of heart; from pride, vainglory, and hypocrisy; from envy, hatred, and malice; and from all want of charity,

Good Lord, deliver us.

These words from The Great Litany are familiar to us, remembering them as being chanted in Solemn Procession during penitential seasons such as Lent and Advent. It occurs to me that they might also be words on which we all might reflect and pray in our current situation.

On the 28th of June, I wrote, and the Standing Committee affirmed, a statement for the Diocese of South Carolina asking for Alternative Primatial oversight from the Archbishop of Canterbury. From the moment this statement was made public, I have been receiving innumerable letters, e-mails, phone messages etc. that exhibited considerable want of charity. Some have been peppered with profanity of the nastiest sort. I have been accused of “betraying” my ordination vows, and, by appealing to “a crown-appointed, un-elected member of the House of Lords”, as being downright un-American!

Most of these insults I have received with a grain of salt. But some of the letters to the editor that we read in our daily paper have served the purpose of further driving wedges by those who have their own agendas. That is to say, we have been ridiculed as being closed minded, intolerant, bigoted, etc. etc. For the record, our statement begins by rejecting bigotry. Homophobia is a sin. Categorical cruelty, verbal abuse and the like are always sinful. I have friends as well as family who are gay people. Clearly I love and care for them. They are welcome in our lives, in our homes, and in our churches, as are all other fellow-sinners. But loving and including are not the equivalent of blessing and ordaining. So when people write letters that accuse us of intolerance, they are simply using what the Archbishop of Canterbury calls the rhetoric of inclusion as a tool to ridicule anyone who holds to the traditional Christian perspective. It really is ludicrous if followed to its logical conclusion. Was Mother Teresa a bigot? Pope John Paul a shameless homophobe? Of course not! But the shrill voice of condemnation for anyone who dares embrace a traditional view of Christianity would have us think otherwise.

Another tiresome argument is that we conservatives waste our energies on trivial things like sex and gender, while the “real” work of the Gospel like feeding the poor and fighting disease go undone. My cynical side wonders how many of our detractors themselves roll up their sleeves to do such things. But that is not the real issue. The real issue is that many revisionists have embraced a mission for the Church that would make it hard to distinguish from some sort of amalgam of the United Nations and the United Way. In this re-visioned church, acts of mercy and justice are in and of themselves the ultimate purpose and raison d’etre. But the Biblical mandate is still the Great Commission. We exist for the sole purpose of bringing people into a saving relationship with the person of Jesus Christ who is the only name under heaven by which men may be saved. ALL the good works in the world (which we are indeed commanded to do) are ultimately pointless if divorced from a Christological context.

The problem arises when our bishops, priests, missionaries, and seminary professors no longer believe in that scandal of particularity. When one says, as has the Presiding Bishop-elect, that claiming Jesus as the unique way to salvation puts God in a very small box, we have a picture of how great the divide has become. On one side, we have those of us who believe in the Jesus as he is described in the scriptures and the creeds. On the other are those who are intellectually embarrassed by such quaint notions. On one side of the divide, we have those who believe that male and female natures are radically equal but complimentary aspects of being created in the image of God. On the other are those who believe that gender differences are arbitrary and essentially determined by culture. Is the sacrament of Holy Matrimony a participation in the Divine mystery of the Holy Trinity? Or is it a social institution shaped by human culture and adaptable as times and seasons make necessary?

These are some of the profound issues, and I may have already taxed the limits of a parish newsletter. Let me conclude by saying that the Church is not a cafeteria. The Bishop’s job is to guard the faith as it has been received through the ages, and my job as rector is to assure that within the parish of the Church of the Holy Communion, what is taught and lived is the Catholic and Apostolic Faith. You and I are under the authority of Christ’s truth, through which alone we can be made free. But the idol of this world is personal judgment and autonomy. One way brings life. One way brings death. The stakes are that high. May God bless us and keep us as we seek to be faithful. The days ahead are filled with opportunity as well as challenges. I am grateful that we are facing them together with hope and expectancy.


–The Rev. Dow Sanderson is rector, Church of the Holy Communion, Charleston, South Carolina, and President of the Standing Committee of the diocese of South Carolina

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Lutheran Church has various branches

[feeling the need to differentiate from the denom lately...]

The Record
Kitchener, Ontario

The Record's most recent articles, and especially the headlines in covering the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada's most recent convention held in Waterloo, seem to give the impression that the actions taken at this convention is the stance of all Lutherans. This is not the case.

In addition to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, there are at least three other Lutheran synods in Canada, one of which is Lutheran Church-Canada. Lutheran Church-Canada currently has over 325 congregations in Canada and nearly 78,000 members. In the Kitchener-Waterloo area, there are 11 congregations with a membership of nearly 5,000 people.

Lutheran Church-Canada believes that the whole Bible is actually the Word of God, and, therefore, is totally truthful, reliable, and free from any error and, therefore, believes that the Scriptures are the final standard by which we must judge everything that we believe, teach and confess.

In my opinion, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, on the other hand, holds that Scripture is not necessarily always accurate or trustworthy in all its details and parts. Thus, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada tolerates and encourages methods of interpreting the Scripture that presuppose that the Bible contains error and is unclear about various doctrinal matters.

This difference over the Bible explains some of the other differences between the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada and Lutheran Church-Canada. For example, Lutheran Church-Canada does not ordain women to the pastoral office and is in disagreement with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada also in the areas of homosexuality and abortion.

Lutheran Church-Canada unequivocally teaches that homosexual behaviour is intrinsically sinful because it is contrary to God's word. Thus, the issue of offering same-sex blessings to gay couples would not be an issue to be voted upon at a Lutheran Church-Canada synod convention.

While there are other examples, the ordination of women pastors, homosexuality and abortion serve to make the point that the difference over the authority and reliability of God's word lies at the heart of the other differences between the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada and Lutheran Church-Canada.

Rev. Paul Zabel

St. John's Lutheran Church-Canada, Clifford

Monday, July 17, 2006

Liberal Christianity is paying for its sins

LA Times
Out-of-the-mainstream beliefs about gay marriage and supposedly sexist doctrines are gutting old-line faiths.
By Charlotte Allen, CHARLOTTE ALLEN is Catholicism editor for Beliefnet and the author of "The Human Christ: The Search for the Historical Jesus."
July 9, 2006

The accelerating fragmentation of the strife-torn Episcopal Church USA, in which several parishes and even a few dioceses are opting out of the church, isn't simply about gay bishops, the blessing of same-sex unions or the election of a woman as presiding bishop. It also is about the meltdown of liberal Christianity.

Embraced by the leadership of all the mainline Protestant denominations, as well as large segments of American Catholicism, liberal Christianity has been hailed by its boosters for 40 years as the future of the Christian church.

ADVERTISEMENTInstead, as all but a few die-hards now admit, all the mainline churches and movements within churches that have blurred doctrine and softened moral precepts are demographically declining and, in the case of the Episcopal Church, disintegrating.

It is not entirely coincidental that at about the same time that Episcopalians, at their general convention in Columbus, Ohio, were thumbing their noses at a directive from the worldwide Anglican Communion that they "repent" of confirming the openly gay Bishop V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire three years ago, the Presbyterian Church USA, at its general assembly in Birmingham, Ala., was turning itself into the laughingstock of the blogosphere by tacitly approving alternative designations for the supposedly sexist Christian Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Among the suggested names were "Mother, Child and Womb" and "Rock, Redeemer and Friend." Moved by the spirit of the Presbyterian revisionists, Beliefnet blogger Rod Dreher held a "Name That Trinity" contest. Entries included "Rock, Scissors and Paper" and "Larry, Curly and Moe."

Following the Episcopalian lead, the Presbyterians also voted to give local congregations the freedom to ordain openly cohabiting gay and lesbian ministers and endorsed the legalization of medical marijuana. (The latter may be a good idea, but it is hard to see how it falls under the theological purview of a Christian denomination.)

The Presbyterian Church USA is famous for its 1993 conference, cosponsored with the United Methodist Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and other mainline churches, in which participants "reimagined" God as "Our Maker Sophia" and held a feminist-inspired "milk and honey" ritual designed to replace traditional bread-and-wine Communion.

As if to one-up the Presbyterians in jettisoning age-old elements of Christian belief, the Episcopalians at Columbus overwhelmingly refused even to consider a resolution affirming that Jesus Christ is Lord. When a Christian church cannot bring itself to endorse a bedrock Christian theological statement repeatedly found in the New Testament, it is not a serious Christian church. It's a Church of What's Happening Now, conferring a feel-good imprimatur on whatever the liberal elements of secular society deem permissible or politically correct.

You want to have gay sex? Be a female bishop? Change God's name to Sophia? Go ahead. The just-elected Episcopal presiding bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori, is a one-woman combination of all these things, having voted for Robinson, blessed same-sex couples in her Nevada diocese, prayed to a female Jesus at the Columbus convention and invited former Newark, N.J., bishop John Shelby Spong, famous for denying Christ's divinity, to address her priests.

When a church doesn't take itself seriously, neither do its members. It is hard to believe that as recently as 1960, members of mainline churches — Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Methodists, Lutherans and the like — accounted for 40% of all American Protestants. Today, it's more like 12% (17 million out of 135 million). Some of the precipitous decline is due to lower birthrates among the generally blue-state mainliners, but it also is clear that millions of mainline adherents (and especially their children) have simply walked out of the pews never to return. According to the Hartford Institute for Religious Research, in 1965, there were 3.4 million Episcopalians; now, there are 2.3 million. The number of Presbyterians fell from 4.3 million in 1965 to 2.5 million today. Compare that with 16 million members reported by the Southern Baptists.

When your religion says "whatever" on doctrinal matters, regards Jesus as just another wise teacher, refuses on principle to evangelize and lets you do pretty much what you want, it's a short step to deciding that one of the things you don't want to do is get up on Sunday morning and go to church.

It doesn't help matters that the mainline churches were pioneers in ordaining women to the clergy, to the point that 25% of all Episcopal priests these days are female, as are 29% of all Presbyterian pastors, according to the two churches. A causal connection between a critical mass of female clergy and a mass exodus from the churches, especially among men, would be difficult to establish, but is it entirely a coincidence? Sociologist Rodney Stark ("The Rise of Christianity") and historian Philip Jenkins ("The Next Christendom") contend that the more demands, ethical and doctrinal, that a faith places upon its adherents, the deeper the adherents' commitment to that faith. Evangelical and Pentecostal churches, which preach biblical morality, have no trouble saying that Jesus is Lord, and they generally eschew women's ordination. The churches are growing robustly, both in the United States and around the world.

Despite the fact that median Sunday attendance at Episcopal churches is 80 worshipers, the Episcopal Church, as a whole, is financially equipped to carry on for some time, thanks to its inventory of vintage real estate and huge endowments left over from the days (no more!) when it was the Republican Party at prayer. Furthermore, it has offset some of its demographic losses by attracting disaffected liberal Catholics and gays and lesbians. The less endowed Presbyterian Church USA is in deeper trouble. Just before its general assembly in Birmingham, it announced that it would eliminate 75 jobs to meet a $9.15-million budget cut at its headquarters, the third such round of job cuts in four years.

The Episcopalians have smells, bells, needlework cushions and colorfully garbed, Catholic-looking bishops as draws, but who, under the present circumstances, wants to become a Presbyterian?

Still, it must be galling to Episcopal liberals that many of the parishes and dioceses (including that of San Joaquin, Calif.) that want to pull out of the Episcopal Church USA are growing instead of shrinking, have live people in the pews who pay for the upkeep of their churches and don't have to rely on dead rich people. The 21-year-old Christ Church Episcopal in Plano, Texas, for example, is one of the largest Episcopal churches in the country. Its 2,200 worshipers on any given Sunday are about equal to the number of active Episcopalians in Jefferts Schori's entire Nevada diocese.

It's no surprise that Christ Church, like the other dissident parishes, preaches a very conservative theology. Its break from the national church came after Rowan Williams, archbishop of Canterbury and head of the Anglican Communion, proposed a two-tier membership in which the Episcopal Church USA and other churches that decline to adhere to traditional biblical standards would have "associate" status in the communion. The dissidents hope to retain full communication with Canterbury by establishing oversight by non-U.S. Anglican bishops.

As for the rest of the Episcopalians, the phrase "deck chairs on the Titanic" comes to mind. A number of liberal Episcopal websites are devoted these days to dissing Peter Akinola, outspoken primate of the Anglican diocese of Nigeria, who, like the vast majority of the world's 77 million Anglicans reported by the Anglican Communion, believes that "homosexual practice" is "incompatible with Scripture" (those words are from the communion's 1998 resolution at the Lambeth conference of bishops). Akinola might have the numbers on his side, but he is now the Voldemort — no, make that the Karl Rove — of the U.S. Episcopal world. Other liberals fume over a feeble last-minute resolution in Columbus calling for "restraint" in consecrating bishops whose lifestyle might offend "the wider church" — a resolution immediately ignored when a second openly cohabitating gay man was nominated for bishop of Newark.

So this is the liberal Christianity that was supposed to be the Christianity of the future: disarray, schism, rapidly falling numbers of adherents, a collapse of Christology and national meetings that rival those of the Modern Language Assn. for their potential for cheap laughs. And they keep telling the Catholic Church that it had better get with the liberal program — ordain women, bless gay unions and so forth — or die. Sure.

More Courts Get It Right, but Marriage Still Hangs in the Balance


Two more courts ruled Friday against radical efforts to change the definition of marriage as the union of a man and a woman. A federal appeals court overturned a district court decision, thus reinstating the state marriage amendment that was adopted by over 70% of Nebraska voters. FRC filed a friend-of-the-court brief in this case. Meanwhile in Tennessee, that state's Supreme Court rejected the ACLU's effort to keep a marriage amendment off the ballot this fall. Despite the overwhelming support for state marriage amendments, and despite a string of recent court victories for traditional marriage, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) seems determined to align itself ever more closely with the radical advocates of same-sex "marriage." A DNC spokesman has unveiled "a five-point plan for fighting" efforts by voters to preserve the definition of marriage. Both New Jersey and Washington are awaiting high court decisions at any time that could make them the second and third states to legalize counterfeit homosexual "marriage." We need to take the definition of marriage out of the hands of judges once and for all. That's why it's important for the U.S. House of Representatives to pass the Marriage Protection Amendment to the U.S. Constitution this week.

Order Your Copy Now
The Slippery Slope of Same-Sex "Marriage"

What Can Save the ELCA?

You have perhaps noticed the opening of the url of Shellfish: saveelca. That is a prayer. We know that we can not organize or teach our way out of this one, though those are necessary steps. No, we need God to remove this confusion.

So, brothers and sisters, please turn in your cyber hymnals to number (who has the hymn number/ oh, right click on the title), our hymn for today is:

What can wash away my sin?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
What can make me whole again?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.


Oh! precious is the flow
That makes me white as snow;
No other fount I know,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

For my pardon, this I see,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
For my cleansing this my plea,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.


Nothing can for sin atone,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
Naught of good that I have done,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.


This is all my hope and peace,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
This is all my righteousness,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.


Now by this I’ll overcome—
Nothing but the blood of Jesus,
Now by this I’ll reach my home—
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.


Glory! Glory! This I sing—
Nothing but the blood of Jesus,
All my praise for this I bring—
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.


What can save the ELCA
Nothing but the blood of Jesus!

Dear Lutheran:

Dear Lutheran:

Thanks for mentioning my blog in your story, but I really need to comment on something. The writer defined "antinomianism” as "the belief that faith alone is necessary to salvation". Well, actually that is how Luther would have defined Lutheranism! Antinomianism means as the word implies, "against law" i.e., lawlessness, law has no meaning. That is what is being taught today to many in our pews, because apparently that is what is being taught in the ELCA seminaries.

A good question for us in the ELCA today is whether God's law has any value than to point us to the need for a saving faith. Can the law also serve as a guide for how the justified should live, as a mirror for each of us to see how we are doing, or as a curb to immoral behavior?

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Congressional Committee Acts on Child Porn

Congressional Committee Acts on Child Porn

A House subcommittee is responding to evidence it has gathered in a major child porn case by sending information that can be used in prosecutions by state attorneys general in 46 states. The facts of the case, which stem from testimony the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee took earlier this year from a 19-year-old male, Justin Berry, are horrific. Berry testified that he had been sexually abused as a minor and, at age 13, began using webcam technology to operate his own live child porn site. The site boomed as child porn predators swarmed to it, using credit cards numbers that Berry provided to the subcommittee in his testimony. Berry testified to having some 1,500 customers, and he also told the subcommittee that the U.S. Justice Department had dragged its feet in responding to the information and taking action. Federal prosecutors have now filed charges against three men who helped Berry operate the business, but the subcommittee's efforts to work directly with state prosecutors as well are good news for families. Energy and Commerce Committee chairman Joe Barton (R-TX) deserves thanks for moving forward aggressively on this heart-wrenching issue. As Berry told the subcommittee last April, "My experience is not as isolated as you might hope . . . this is not the story of a few bad kids whose parents paid no attention. There are hundreds of kids in the United States alone who are right now wrapped up in this horror."

Additional Resources
Dealing With Pornography: A Practical Guide For Protecting Your Family and Your Community

Thursday, July 13, 2006

‘Homosexual Marriage’ Finally Meets Judicial Restraint

By Andrea Lafferty
Executive Director, Traditional Values Coalition

July 12, 2006 - Defenders of the institution of traditional marriage were encouraged by three state court decisions in the past week. The Supreme Courts of Georgia and New York came down on the side of judicial restraint in legal challenges to bans on same-sex marriage. And, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court actually ruled correctly on a marriage amendment.

In Georgia, the court ruled that a marriage amendment passed by 77% of the voters in 2004 was constitutional and overturned a lower court decision violating the clearly expressed will of the people. Georgians have the right to amend their own constitution to define marriage as a one-man, one-woman union.

In New York, homosexual activists had challenged a ban on same-sex marriage, claiming that the New York Constitution mandated such marriages. The 4-2 decision declared that there is no constitutional right in New York for homosexuals to marry. The court also noted that such decisions should be in the hands of the legislature, not the courts. The New York Court of Appeals displayed judicial restraint, a welcome change from judicial activists who routinely impose their political agendas upon the American people.

In writing about the New York decision, Newsday described these judicial activists as individuals who view the U.S. Constitution, state constitutions and laws like Etch-A-Sketches. Noted Newsday, “These judges ignore what actually was intended and written, turn things upside down, shake and then write whatever they want.”

This is an apt description of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco and the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, which found a “right” to homosexual marriage in the 1780 Constitution of that state. A review of history shows that sodomy was a criminal offense in Massachusetts in the 18th century (and elsewhere), so it is unlikely that the state Constitution mandates same-sex marriage. The Supreme Judicial Court obviously viewed the state Constitution as an Etch-A-Sketch and eagerly imposed homosexual marriage upon Massachusetts.

Fortunately, this same court recently ruled that the Massachusetts state legislature and the people could vote on a marriage amendment to overturn this tyrannical decision. It was good of them to acknowledge the democratic process. Perhaps, there is hope for Massachusetts after all.

Judicial restraint is an alien concept to many judges, who view themselves as the real rulers of our nation. Judge Robert Bork has described these judges as “our robed masters” and has warned against the dangerous anti-democratic values that motivate these men and women.

A decade ago, Bork warned about judicial activism on the Supreme Court, noting they are “… our masters in a way that no President, Congressman, governor, or other elected official is. They order our lives and we have no recourse, no means of resisting, no means of altering their ukases. They are, indeed, robed masters.”

This is why it is so important for the Senate to confirm judicial conservatives to the federal bench—including the next vacancy on the Supreme Court. We must have men and women on the bench who understand that their role is to interpret, not make the laws. We must confirm judges who believe in judicial restraint and are not motivated by a desire to impose their own wills upon the American people.

Our choice is clear: We will be ruled by the people and their representatives or by unaccountable robed masters. Americans must demand that the Senate confirm judicial conservatives to our courts—or we will continue to lose our democratic freedoms to judicial tyrants.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Pope to Focus on Love, Not Controversy, Explains to Journalists on Flight to Spain

VALENCIA, Spain, JULY 9, 2006 ( As Benedict XVI left for Valencia, he explained to the 64 journalists who accompanied him on the plane that his visit is a message of encouragement to families, not controversy.

As Pope John Paul II used to do, the German Pontiff peered through the curtains to the section of the plane reserved for journalists, accompanied by Joaquín Navarro Valls, director of the Vatican press office, to speak with them and to respond to two questions in Italian.

Explaining the meaning of his visit to "beautiful Spain," the Holy Father said: "I only wish to take a message of encouragement."

The journalists' first question referred to the contrast between the message on the family transmitted by the Church and the new Spanish laws which recognize, for example, homosexual marriage, including the adoption of children.

"I would not like to begin immediately with the negative aspects, because I am thinking of families that love one another, that are happy. We want to encourage this reality which is really the reality that gives hope for the future," he said.

"There are also problems, points where the Christian faith says 'no,' it is true, and we want to make it understood that, precisely according to the nature of the human being, man and woman are ordered one for the other, and that they are also ordered to give a future to humanity," he continued.

"Therefore, we underline these positive things and in that way we make it understood why the Church cannot accept certain things."

A journalist asked Benedict XVI how he is preparing for his trip to Bavaria, Germany, next September.

The Pope replied: "on one hand, I prepare texts and on the other I prepare my heart. In this aspect I must say that my heart is always open for Germany, as it is for Spain."

Million in Spain Hear Pope Praise Traditional Family

Million in Spain Hear Pope Praise Traditional Family

Published: July 9, 2006
VALENCIA, Spain, July 9 — A million or more Catholics prayed here today in support of the traditional family, cheering Pope Benedict XVI as he defined it as "founded on indissoluble marriage between a man and a woman."

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Not long ago, such a public proclamation would have seemed unnecessary, especially in staunchly Catholic Spain. But many Catholics have been disturbed by the growing recognition of same-sex unions — and the event here stood as a protest of sorts against governments like Spain's, which legalized gay marriage last year.

"Christian people must be generous with other unions," said Antonio Martínez, a 45-year-old Spanish army officer, as Benedict celebrated an open-air Mass here at the City of Arts and Sciences, a futuristic museum and convention center. "But this is not a sacrament. It is political. Men and men are not a family. It can be friendly. It can be another thing. But it is not possible to be a family."

The 79-year-old pope arrived at this seaside city on Saturday as the central attraction of a conference in defense of the traditional family, with Catholics from around the world participating.

The visit was brief — he returned to the Vatican in less than 26 hours — but significant in its all-but-explicit protest against the policies of Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero. The prime minister is at odds with the church not only over gay marriage but over some of his other policies, like his moves to ease divorce and fertility laws.

Tension over the pope's visit was high enough that Mr. Zapatero did not attend the Mass, a gesture that Vatican officials portrayed as a public snub. He did, however, visit the pope briefly on Saturday evening — and was booed by onlookers on the way in. His office described the visit as "cordial."

Family, sex and religion invariably stir strong emotions: One Spanish bishop gave an interview during the visit referring to the "gay empire" controlling the Spanish government's agenda, and at the Mass here on Sunday, the archbishop of Valencia, Agustín García-Gasco Vicente, spoke of the traditional family as the basis for "the construction of a civilization of love and life against the culture of death."

The phrase is often used by religious and right-wing groups to attack those who support gay marriage, abortion and euthanasia. Gay groups, in turn, have protested the pope's visit here.

But the pope himself, as he did in all his public appearances here, avoided any condemnatory edge in his language, as he praised a family created in a marriage between a man and woman as central to God's plan.

"Certainly, we come from our parents and we are their children," he said. "But we also come from God who has created us in his image and called us to be his children.

"Consequently, at the origin of every human being there is not something haphazard or chance, but a loving plan of God."

The crowd cheered perhaps most loudly when he spoke of the family as a continuation of values and knowledge passed from one generation to the next, as part of a community in which the church plays a central role.

"All of us received from others both life itself and its basic truths, and we have been called to attain perfection in relationship and loving communion with others," he said. "The family, founded on indissoluble marriage between a man and a woman, is the expression of this relational, filial and communal aspect of life."

The Vatican estimated the crowd at the Mass at 1.5 million, with another 700,000 watching at large screens around the city. The numbers, along with the enthusiasm, seemed notable on several fronts.

First, it seemed to dispel any immediate fears that the quiet and bookish Benedict — who has himself expressed reservations about such huge papal events — would be able to attract the kind of crowds that showed up for the far-more charismatic John Paul II, who died last year.

"With John Paul, people wanted to see him," said Ester Calvo, 33, a doctor from Barcelona. "With Benedict, we want to hear him."

The rest of this story is at The NY Times.


Back when he was just a prefect!


1. In recent years, various questions relating to homosexuality have been addressed with some frequency by Pope John Paul II and by the relevant Dicasteries of the Holy See.(1) Homosexuality is a troubling moral and social phenomenon, even in those countries where it does not present significant legal issues. It gives rise to greater concern in those countries that have granted or intend to grant – legal recognition to homosexual unions, which may include the possibility of adopting children. The present Considerations do not contain new doctrinal elements; they seek rather to reiterate the essential points on this question and provide arguments drawn from reason which could be used by Bishops in preparing more specific interventions, appropriate to the different situations throughout the world, aimed at protecting and promoting the dignity of marriage, the foundation of the family, and the stability of society, of which this institution is a constitutive element. The present Considerations are also intended to give direction to Catholic politicians by indicating the approaches to proposed legislation in this area which would be consistent with Christian conscience.(2) Since this question relates to the natural moral law, the arguments that follow are addressed not only to those who believe in Christ, but to all persons committed to promoting and defending the common good of society.


2. The Church's teaching on marriage and on the complementarity of the sexes reiterates a truth that is evident to right reason and recognized as such by all the major cultures of the world. Marriage is not just any relationship between human beings. It was established by the Creator with its own nature, essential properties and purpose.(3) No ideology can erase from the human spirit the certainty that marriage exists solely between a man and a woman, who by mutual personal gift, proper and exclusive to themselves, tend toward the communion of their persons. In this way, they mutually perfect each other, in order to cooperate with God in the procreation and upbringing of new human lives.

3. The natural truth about marriage was confirmed by the Revelation contained in the biblical accounts of creation, an expression also of the original human wisdom, in which the voice of nature itself is heard. There are three fundamental elements of the Creator's plan for marriage, as narrated in the Book of Genesis.

In the first place, man, the image of God, was created “male and female” (Gen 1:27). Men and women are equal as persons and complementary as male and female. Sexuality is something that pertains to the physical-biological realm and has also been raised to a new level – the personal level – where nature and spirit are united.

Marriage is instituted by the Creator as a form of life in which a communion of persons is realized involving the use of the sexual faculty. “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife and they become one flesh” (Gen 2:24).

Third, God has willed to give the union of man and woman a special participation in his work of creation. Thus, he blessed the man and the woman with the words “Be fruitful and multiply” (Gen 1:28). Therefore, in the Creator's plan, sexual complementarity and fruitfulness belong to the very nature of marriage.

Furthermore, the marital union of man and woman has been elevated by Christ to the dignity of a sacrament. The Church teaches that Christian marriage is an efficacious sign of the covenant between Christ and the Church (cf. Eph 5:32). This Christian meaning of marriage, far from diminishing the profoundly human value of the marital union between man and woman, confirms and strengthens it (cf. Mt 19:3-12; Mk 10:6-9).

4. There are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God's plan for marriage and family. Marriage is holy, while homosexual acts go against the natural moral law. Homosexual acts “close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved”.(4)

Sacred Scripture condemns homosexual acts “as a serious depravity... (cf. Rom 1:24-27; 1 Cor 6:10; 1 Tim 1:10). This judgment of Scripture does not of course permit us to conclude that all those who suffer from this anomaly are personally responsible for it, but it does attest to the fact that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered”.(5) This same moral judgment is found in many Christian writers of the first centuries(6) and is unanimously accepted by Catholic Tradition.

Nonetheless, according to the teaching of the Church, men and women with homosexual tendencies “must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided”.(7) They are called, like other Christians, to live the virtue of chastity.(8) The homosexual inclination is however “objectively disordered”(9) and homosexual practices are “sins gravely contrary to chastity”.(10)


5. Faced with the fact of homosexual unions, civil authorities adopt different positions. At times they simply tolerate the phenomenon; at other times they advocate legal recognition of such unions, under the pretext of avoiding, with regard to certain rights, discrimination against persons who live with someone of the same sex. In other cases, they favour giving homosexual unions legal equivalence to marriage properly so-called, along with the legal possibility of adopting children.

Where the government's policy is de facto tolerance and there is no explicit legal recognition of homosexual unions, it is necessary to distinguish carefully the various aspects of the problem. Moral conscience requires that, in every occasion, Christians give witness to the whole moral truth, which is contradicted both by approval of homosexual acts and unjust discrimination against homosexual persons. Therefore, discreet and prudent actions can be effective; these might involve: unmasking the way in which such tolerance might be exploited or used in the service of ideology; stating clearly the immoral nature of these unions; reminding the government of the need to contain the phenomenon within certain limits so as to safeguard public morality and, above all, to avoid exposing young people to erroneous ideas about sexuality and marriage that would deprive them of their necessary defences and contribute to the spread of the phenomenon. Those who would move from tolerance to the legitimization of specific rights for cohabiting homosexual persons need to be reminded that the approval or legalization of evil is something far different from the toleration of evil.

In those situations where homosexual unions have been legally recognized or have been given the legal status and rights belonging to marriage, clear and emphatic opposition is a duty. One must refrain from any kind of formal cooperation in the enactment or application of such gravely unjust laws and, as far as possible, from material cooperation on the level of their application. In this area, everyone can exercise the right to conscientious objection.


6. To understand why it is necessary to oppose legal recognition of homosexual unions, ethical considerations of different orders need to be taken into consideration.

From the order of right reason

The scope of the civil law is certainly more limited than that of the moral law,(11) but civil law cannot contradict right reason without losing its binding force on conscience.(12) Every humanly-created law is legitimate insofar as it is consistent with the natural moral law, recognized by right reason, and insofar as it respects the inalienable rights of every person.(13) Laws in favour of homosexual unions are contrary to right reason because they confer legal guarantees, analogous to those granted to marriage, to unions between persons of the same sex. Given the values at stake in this question, the State could not grant legal standing to such unions without failing in its duty to promote and defend marriage as an institution essential to the common good.

It might be asked how a law can be contrary to the common good if it does not impose any particular kind of behaviour, but simply gives legal recognition to a de facto reality which does not seem to cause injustice to anyone. In this area, one needs first to reflect on the difference between homosexual behaviour as a private phenomenon and the same behaviour as a relationship in society, foreseen and approved by the law, to the point where it becomes one of the institutions in the legal structure. This second phenomenon is not only more serious, but also assumes a more wide-reaching and profound influence, and would result in changes to the entire organization of society, contrary to the common good. Civil laws are structuring principles of man's life in society, for good or for ill. They “play a very important and sometimes decisive role in influencing patterns of thought and behaviour”.(14) Lifestyles and the underlying presuppositions these express not only externally shape the life of society, but also tend to modify the younger generation's perception and evaluation of forms of behaviour. Legal recognition of homosexual unions would obscure certain basic moral values and cause a devaluation of the institution of marriage.

From the biological and anthropological order

7. Homosexual unions are totally lacking in the biological and anthropological elements of marriage and family which would be the basis, on the level of reason, for granting them legal recognition. Such unions are not able to contribute in a proper way to the procreation and survival of the human race. The possibility of using recently discovered methods of artificial reproduction, beyond involv- ing a grave lack of respect for human dignity,(15) does nothing to alter this inadequacy.

Homosexual unions are also totally lacking in the conjugal dimension, which represents the human and ordered form of sexuality. Sexual relations are human when and insofar as they express and promote the mutual assistance of the sexes in marriage and are open to the transmission of new life.

As experience has shown, the absence of sexual complementarity in these unions creates obstacles in the normal development of children who would be placed in the care of such persons. They would be deprived of the experience of either fatherhood or motherhood. Allowing children to be adopted by persons living in such unions would actually mean doing violence to these children, in the sense that their condition of dependency would be used to place them in an environment that is not conducive to their full human development. This is gravely immoral and in open contradiction to the principle, recognized also in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, that the best interests of the child, as the weaker and more vulnerable party, are to be the paramount consideration in every case.

From the social order

8. Society owes its continued survival to the family, founded on marriage. The inevitable consequence of legal recognition of homosexual unions would be the redefinition of marriage, which would become, in its legal status, an institution devoid of essential reference to factors linked to heterosexuality; for example, procreation and raising children. If, from the legal standpoint, marriage between a man and a woman were to be considered just one possible form of marriage, the concept of marriage would undergo a radical transformation, with grave detriment to the common good. By putting homosexual unions on a legal plane analogous to that of marriage and the family, the State acts arbitrarily and in contradiction with its duties.

The principles of respect and non-discrimination cannot be invoked to support legal recognition of homosexual unions. Differentiating between persons or refusing social recognition or benefits is unacceptable only when it is contrary to justice.(16) The denial of the social and legal status of marriage to forms of cohabitation that are not and cannot be marital is not opposed to justice; on the contrary, justice requires it.

Nor can the principle of the proper autonomy of the individual be reasonably invoked. It is one thing to maintain that individual citizens may freely engage in those activities that interest them and that this falls within the common civil right to freedom; it is something quite different to hold that activities which do not represent a significant or positive contribution to the development of the human person in society can receive specific and categorical legal recognition by the State. Not even in a remote analogous sense do homosexual unions fulfil the purpose for which marriage and family deserve specific categorical recognition. On the contrary, there are good reasons for holding that such unions are harmful to the proper development of human society, especially if their impact on society were to increase.

From the legal order

9. Because married couples ensure the succession of generations and are therefore eminently within the public interest, civil law grants them institutional recognition. Homosexual unions, on the other hand, do not need specific attention from the legal standpoint since they do not exercise this function for the common good.

Nor is the argument valid according to which legal recognition of homosexual unions is necessary to avoid situations in which cohabiting homosexual persons, simply because they live together, might be deprived of real recognition of their rights as persons and citizens. In reality, they can always make use of the provisions of law – like all citizens from the standpoint of their private autonomy – to protect their rights in matters of common interest. It would be gravely unjust to sacrifice the common good and just laws on the family in order to protect personal goods that can and must be guaranteed in ways that do not harm the body of society.(17)


10. If it is true that all Catholics are obliged to oppose the legal recognition of homosexual unions, Catholic politicians are obliged to do so in a particular way, in keeping with their responsibility as politicians. Faced with legislative proposals in favour of homosexual unions, Catholic politicians are to take account of the following ethical indications.

When legislation in favour of the recognition of homosexual unions is proposed for the first time in a legislative assembly, the Catholic law-maker has a moral duty to express his opposition clearly and publicly and to vote against it. To vote in favour of a law so harmful to the common good is gravely immoral.

When legislation in favour of the recognition of homosexual unions is already in force, the Catholic politician must oppose it in the ways that are possible for him and make his opposition known; it is his duty to witness to the truth. If it is not possible to repeal such a law completely, the Catholic politician, recalling the indications contained in the Encyclical Letter Evangelium vitae, “could licitly support proposals aimed at limiting the harm done by such a law and at lessening its negative consequences at the level of general opinion and public morality”, on condition that his “absolute personal opposition” to such laws was clear and well known and that the danger of scandal was avoided.(18) This does not mean that a more restrictive law in this area could be considered just or even acceptable; rather, it is a question of the legitimate and dutiful attempt to obtain at least the partial repeal of an unjust law when its total abrogation is not possible at the moment.


11. The Church teaches that respect for homosexual persons cannot lead in any way to approval of homosexual behaviour or to legal recognition of homosexual unions. The common good requires that laws recognize, promote and protect marriage as the basis of the family, the primary unit of society. Legal recognition of homosexual unions or placing them on the same level as marriage would mean not only the approval of deviant behaviour, with the consequence of making it a model in present-day society, but would also obscure basic values which belong to the common inheritance of humanity. The Church cannot fail to defend these values, for the good of men and women and for the good of society itself.

The Sovereign Pontiff John Paul II, in the Audience of March 28, 2003, approved the present Considerations, adopted in the Ordinary Session of this Congregation, and ordered their publication.

Rome, from the Offices of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, June 3, 2003, Memorial of Saint Charles Lwanga and his Companions, Martyrs.

Joseph Card. Ratzinger

Angelo Amato, S.D.B.
Titular Archbishop of Sila

Saturday, July 08, 2006

U.S. Presbyterians also mired in tumult over gay issues

By Richard N. Ostling, AP religion writer
July 7, 2006

The Episcopal Church's split over homosexuality is getting worldwide attention, but a U.S. denomination of roughly equal numbers and stature — the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) — is similarly torn. And compromises have left liberal and conservative activists unsatisfied.

The Presbyterian conflict entered a new phase when a June assembly in Birmingham, Ala., approved a two-sided unity plan. For conservatives, a church law remains that requires clergy and lay officers to limit sex to man-woman marriage, in keeping with traditional biblical teaching.

But liberals were granted new leeway for local congregations and regional presbyteries to sidestep that law. An openly gay minister or lay elder could take office if local Presbyterians believe that the Bible is chiefly concerned with love and inclusiveness.

Now both sides are in strategy meetings, where plotting next steps is the order of the day.

The Rev. Michael Walker, executive director of the conservative Presbyterians for Renewal, said the "decision to allow something as central as sexual morality to be a matter for local determination" gutted Presbyterian principles. Still, he urged conservatives not to quit.

Walker spoke in North Carolina at Montreat Conference Center to 1,000 conservatives at the first of four conferences by foes of the Birmingham plan.

The day they departed, about 260 Presbyterians arrived for a radically different "Celebrating Common Ground" rally, where unity plan supporters included presidents of nine seminaries and 16 moderators.

Barbara Wheeler of New York's Auburn Theological Seminary thinks the Birmingham plan provides helpful "space for the exercise of conscience" and will "wrest control from a small number of groups that have a vested interest in keeping the church in combat mode."

Nonetheless, future conflicts seem unavoidable.

By Wheeler's estimate, two-thirds of churchgoers believe that gay sex is sinful, while a majority of clergy disagree. Moreover, activists on both sides are unwilling to relent.

Friday, July 07, 2006

News from the Front

Well, we were happy and full of hope this morning on account of the ruling of the Supreme Court of New York, but sadly, seems the good, religious Lutheran folk of Canada couldn't muster as much clarity as secular New York:

Synod softens stand on gay unions

Lutherans vote on 'local option' for blessings

WATERLOO (Jul 7, 2006)

Homosexual Lutheran couples from Ontario to the Maritimes could soon have their relationships blessed by their pastors.

In a historic move during their biennial convention in Waterloo yesterday, Eastern Synod delegates of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada voted 197-75 to allow individual congregations to decide whether to perform blessings for same-sex couples.

"It was clear," said Rev. Michael Pryse, the Eastern Synod bishop. "That's solid support."

The decision came after about an hour of passionate debate that left opponents of same-sex blessings sombre.

"It's a triumph of emotion over reason," said Ken Shultz, a lay delegate from Ottawa.

In Canada, the only other mainline church body allowing blessings for same-sex couples is the Anglican Church of Canada's New Westminster diocese in B.C.

The United Church of Canada is the only mainline denomination in Canada that will marry same-sex couples.

The decision by Lutheran delegates in Waterloo yesterday allows pastors to bless the unions of same-sex couples -- who commit to being in lifelong relationships -- only after pastors consult their bishop and after a two-thirds majority vote by the congregation.

The move is known as the "local option."

The decision does not allow gay couples to wed in Lutheran churches.

It could be months before homosexual Lutheran couples can get their unions blessed.

Opponents plan to table a motion at the synod convention, today or tomorrow, to appeal yesterday's decision.

They argue delegates didn't have the jurisdiction to hold the vote because delegates to a national convention last year rejected a motion that was nearly identical.

Opponents from any synod can ask the National Church Council -- an executive committee of clergy and lay people with bishops acting as non-voting advisers -- to forward the appeal to a national church court. The synod's jurisdiction to hold yesterday's vote is debatable, said Pryse, the synod's bishop.

"I think a good case can be made one way or the other."

Pryse said if an appeal gets underway, he will ask pastors and congregations to hold off on performing blessings "until there is clarity."

Pryse didn't vote yesterday but said he was "pleased" with the result.

Despite the outcome of any possible appeal, the consequences for the Eastern Synod aren't clear, according to Rev. Raymond Schultz, the church's national bishop.

"The court has no apparatus for enforcing its ruling," he said in an interview moments after the vote.

More than a dozen delegates lined up at microphones for the duration of the hour-long debate.

Supporters of the "local option" outnumbered opponents more than two to one.

Nancy Mayberry, a foreign languages scholar and lay delegate from Aylmer, Ont., supported the local option.

She said people can read the same Scriptures and come up with different interpretations.

And when there is a choice between legalism and grace, she said, "go with grace."

Rev. Frank Haggarty, pastor at St. Peter's Evangelical Lutheran Church in downtown Kitchener, pointed out that if the "local option" were approved, no congregation would be forced to bless same-sex couples. "If my congregation says no -- it's no."

Opponents of same-sex blessings argued they are staying true to Scripture.

Rev. Paul Jensen, a pastor from St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Bridgewater, N.S., said supporters of same-sex blessings are absolving individuals of the capacity to sin.

And he bristled at suggestions he doesn't care for his parishioners if he doesn't support same-sex blessings.

"Please don't tell me I don't love my gay and lesbian (parishioners)," he said. "I do love them, but I'm not going to marry them."

Rev. Joachim Knaack, a retired pastor from Toronto, predicted dire consequences if delegates approved the blessings.

"This is a matter that will divide the church forever," he said.

Rev. Peeter Vanker, a retired pastor living in Markham who opposes same-sex blessings, said the outcome of yesterday's vote will cause deeper division between Lutherans across Canada.

"It's going to drive an even stronger wedge between us in the East and them in the West," he said.

Delegates re-elected Pryse as bishop of the Eastern Synod. First elected in 1998, Pryse will serve a third four-year term.

The synod conference ends Sunday.

Dean: Marriage Outdated and Bigoted


Democratic National Chairman Howard Dean today slammed the pro-marriage ruling of New York's Court of Appeals. Dean was "deeply disappointed" in the state's highest court, saying that the 4-2 opinion rested on "outdated and bigoted notions." Judge Robert Smith wrote for the majority in denying the appeal of a lesbian woman who, with her female partner, is raising an 11-year-old boy. The case had been pressed by the ACLU and Lambda Legal, a homosexual advocacy group. Judge Smith's opinion was forthright: "We do not predict what people will think generations from now, but we believe the present generation should have a chance to decide the issue through its elected representatives." This is the definition of judicial restraint. It's a textbook case of judges applying the law and deferring to the legislature in the making of any new law. New York has been a "progressive" state since it entered the Union. New York's high court was joined later today by Georgia's Supreme Court, which affirmed the voters' judgment upholding marriage as the union of one man and one woman. These developments are critical. Just weeks ago, Dean said his party's platform affirmed traditional marriage. Now, he says that position is outdated and bigoted.


NY Times: "For Gay Rights Movement, a Key Setback"

Thursday's court ruling against gay marriage in New York
came as a shocking insult to gay rights groups.

When Massachusetts became the first state to legalize gay marriage in November 2003, gay rights advocates imagined a chain reaction that would shake marriage laws until same-sex couples across the nation had the legal right to wed.

Skip to next paragraph

Graphic: State Laws on Same-Sex Marriage
Ruling | Excerpts
Right to Gay Marriage Rejected (July 7, 2006)
Spitzer Signals Gay Marriage Support (July 7, 2006)
Enlarge this Image

James Estrin/The New York Times
A lawyer, Susan L. Sommer, greeted Jo-Ann Shain, facing camera, and her partner, Mary Jo Kennedy, at St. Bartholomew's Church Thursday.
Nowhere did gay marriage seem like a natural fit more than New York, where the Stonewall uprising of 1969 provided inspiration for the gay rights movement and where a history of spirited progressivism had led some gay couples to envision their own weddings someday.

Yesterday's court ruling against gay marriage was more than a legal rebuke, then — it came as a shocking insult to gay rights groups. Leaders said they were stunned by both the rejection and the decision's language, which they saw as expressing more concern for the children of heterosexual couples than for the children of gay couples. They also took exception to the ruling's description of homosexuality as a preference rather than an orientation.

"I never would have dreamed that New York's highest court would be so callous and insulting to gay people — not in New York — to have a legal decision that treats us as if we are alien beings," said Matt Foreman, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

The New York ruling came the same day that the Georgia Supreme Court reinstated a ban on gay marriage.

The New York decision thrusts several challenges before gay activists: Do they continue waging legal battles when more courts seem skeptical about forcing gay marriage on the public? Should the cause turn toward more modest goals like supporting civil unions and domestic-partner benefits, like the law that Connecticut passed last year?

For now, at least, so-called marriage equality is the fight that both sides want to wage, and opponents are predicting that New York will be remembered as the beginning of the end of gay marriage.

"When people look back and write the history of this issue, they will view the New York decision as the Gettysburg in this big contest," said Monte Stewart, president of the Marriage Law Foundation.

The rest here.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Update of the Task Force for ELCA Studies on Sexuality

June 27, 2006

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ:

Grace to you and peace.

This email update is one in a series to keep you informed about the activities of the Task Force for ELCA Studies on Sexuality. Its purpose is to provide information so that you and those you serve will be well prepared to participate in the development of the proposed social statement on human sexuality.

As you are aware a draft social statement on human sexuality will be brought to the ELCA Churchwide Assembly in 2009. There are three major steps ELCA Lutherans will need to take together to reach that point:

1. Participate in a theological and substantive study of human sexuality and give response back to the task force (December 2006 - November 2007)

2. Receive a first draft of a social statement and respond to the task force (Spring 2007 - Fall 2008)

3. Receive and respond through synod council resolutions, memorials and Churchwide Assembly actions to the draft social statement which will come before the 2009 Churchwide Assembly (Spring 2009 - August 2009)

On the 2nd Sunday of Easter the task force wrapped up its spring meeting and authorized the general shape of step one above: the study on human sexuality. A group of task force writers is now at work on that task.

This study will be available on December 1, 2006, and will be available through the web as well as in hard copy. Hard copies may be pre-ordered through the Augsburg Fortress website by clicking [here].

Through this study, the task force hopes to offer a clear theological framework in which to carry out this discussion as a church of the Lutheran tradition. Through your responses to the study, the task force desires to gain a better sense of the concerns, issues and urgency of the ethical decisions facing faithful ELCA Lutherans on matters of human sexuality. It also hopes to probe the resources members call upon to make those decisions, and where they hope to find guidance from the church.
This is to be a study of human sexuality, and all of its gifts and challenges.

The task force hopes that every sector of the church will set aside time to engage in thoughtful reflection and moral deliberation using the study as a guide. We recommend that you plan for an educational setting such as a weekend retreat or a six to eight session format. The study booklet will include an accompanying bible study, which is integral to the study, and also usable on its own for synod assemblies, pastors' retreats, women's groups, youth events, and other gatherings.

Response forms, which will be available on paper and via the internet, are due sixteen months from now: November 1, 2007.

Undertaking the study and responding to the task force are the most important requests the task force will make of you for the next year and a half. It is only upon completion of the study that the task force will shape a first draft of a proposed social statement. That draft will then be broadly available throughout the church for many months for response.

It is finally then that the proposed social statement will be completed and considered by the ELCA Church Council in its April 2009 meeting for distribution in the church, for consideration at synod assemblies, and to be forwarded to the Churchwide Assembly for action.

As always you may visit the task force web site for updated and further information. For your convenience we have attached to this email a time line which details the activities anticipated by the task force leading up to the 2009 Churchwide Assembly.

However, the most important dates for you to remember and plan for at this time are December 1, 2006, and November 1, 2007.

On behalf of the members of the task force and the Churchwide staff who accompany them, I give thanks for your faithfulness and the blessing you are to the church. Let us hold one another in thoughtful prayer during these next years of moral deliberation on this important matter.

In Christ,

Rev. Rebecca Larson
Executive Director
Church in Society


approximate time line as of June 2006

Note: As of June 2006 many of the details of the intersection of the social statement process with groups identified in the time line were not finalized. However the points of intersection are all included to indicate the variety of opportunities for consideration and input from various groups along the way. This time line will be updated periodically on the website


July/August: Task force writing team at work

September 15-17: Meeting of the Task Force for ELCA Studies on Sexuality

October 5-8: Conference of Bishops receives report and engages in Galatians bible study

October 27-28: Church in Society Program Committee receives report and engages in Galatians bible study

November 10 - 12: ELCA Church Council receives report

December 1: Study on human sexuality published and distributed throughout the ELCA for discussion. Responses due November 1, 2007.


January 3-5: Lutheran Ethicists respond to study

January 3-8: Conference of Bishops Academy

February 16-18: Meeting of the Task Force for ELCA Studies on Sexuality

March 1-6: Conference of Bishops

March 16-17: Church in Society Program Committee engages in the study

April 13-16: ELCA Church Council

April-June: Synod Assemblies with opportunities to engage the study, including the Galatians bible study

August 14- 16: Association of Teaching Theologians

October 5-7: Meeting of the Task Force for ELCA Studies on Sexuality

October 4-9: Conference of Bishops meets with task force

October 25-27: Church in Society Program Committee receives report

November 1st: Deadline for responses to study on human sexuality

November 9-11: ELCA Church Council receives report


January 5-10: Conference of Bishops Academy

January : Meeting of the Task Force for ELCA Studies on Sexuality
Completion of work on "1st Draft" of social statement

February: Church in Society Program Committee responds to "1st

March: Distribution of "1st Draft" for discussion
throughout the ELCA.

March 6-11: Conference of Bishops

March to September: Task force holds hearings on "1st Draft"

April-June: Synod assemblies with opportunities to consider and respond to "1st Draft"

April 11-13: ELCA Church Council

October 2-7: Conference of Bishops

Mid October: Deadline for responses to "1st Draft"

November 14-17: ELCA Church Council

Fall: Meeting of the Task Force for ELCA Studies on Sexuality


Late January: Meeting of the Task Force for ELCA Studies on Sexuality
finalizes work on a proposed social

January 3-8: Conference of Bishops Academy

February /March: Church in Society Program Committee responds to
text of
proposed social statement

March 5-10: Conference of Bishops

March 27-29: ELCA Church Council receives text of proposed social
statement and approves text for forwarding to Churchwide Assembly

April to June: Synods receive Church Council approved proposed social
statement in preparation for Churchwide Assembly. Opportunities to
through memorials and synod council actions.

August: Churchwide Assembly considers proposed social
statement 2/3
majority required)

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