Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Rude Awakening for ELCA's Chicago Bishop

Shrimp here. The Chicago Sun-Times reports today:

Gay pastor tests celibacy rule

LUTHERAN ORDINATION | She's becoming a minister at Lake View church but won't take vow

The new bishop in the Chicago Metropolitan Synod faces his first test case on the celibacy requirement for gay clergy in the nation's largest Lutheran denomination.

Resurrection Lutheran Church in Lake View plans to ordain Jen Rude as its associate pastor in a 2 p.m. public ceremony Nov. 17. She's a lesbian who won't vow a lifetime of celibacy because she considers the rule discriminatory.

Heterosexual pastors can marry in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Rude said she isn't in a committed relationship now, but remains hopeful about finding a life partner.

"God is the actor in all of this," said Rude, 27, whose father and grandfather are ELCA pastors.

Bishop Wayne Miller, who took office in September, didn't return phone calls Tuesday. He's previously said he felt torn by his desire to have the celibacy rule lifted and his vows as bishop to uphold church policies.

His predecessor, the Rev. Paul Landahl, criticized the celibacy rule and didn't discipline gay clergy in committed relationships. But elsewhere, some bishops have sent letters of censure and initiated the process to remove pastors and expel congregations.
Sun-Times religion reporter Susan Hogan/Albach (that's how her name appears on paper's web site) writes more here.

Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries, the result of a committed relationship between the (now apparently defunct) Lutheran Lesbian and Gay Ministries (formerly at and the Extraordinary Candidacy Project (formerly at, has its own tossing-the-gauntlet press release here (though we copy it in full for your convenience):

Pastor-Elect Jen Rude

Extraordinary Ordination Scheduled for November 17, 2007

(Chicago, IL)
For the fourth time in 13 months a Lutheran congregation will directly challenge the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s (ELCA) policy requiring lifelong celibacy of gay and lesbian clergy. On October 28, Jen Rude was called to ministry by Resurrection Lutheran Church in Chicago. On November 17, Rude will become the first pastor to be ordained in the newly formed Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries (ELM) and the first official challenge to the new ELCA policy of “Refrain and Restraint” that was passed at its biennial assembly August 6-11 in Chicago.

Rude will be ordained in an “Extraordinary Ordination” service on November 17. The service is called such because it is performed outside the ordinary guidelines for Lutheran ordinations.

Facing increasing pressure to revisit its policy banning partnered gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons from serving as pastors, the five-million member Evangelical Lutheran Church in American (ELCA) took up the issue at their biennial assembly August 6-11 in Chicago. In January of this year, a popular openly gay Atlanta pastor, the Rev. Bradley Schmeling, was placed on church trial after telling his bishop that he was in a same-sex relationship. While the ELCA disciplinary committee recommended Schmeling’s removal, they expressed opposition to the policy and recommended it be overturned. Twenty-one synods passed recommendations that the policy be overturned by the national assembly. The biennial assembly fell short of overturning the policy, but instead passed a resolution recommending bishops “refrain from or show restraint” in discipline of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender pastors and their congregations.

The newly elected Bishop Wayne Miller of ELCA Metropolitan Chicago Synod met with members of Resurrection Lutheran to discuss potential ramifications of their vote to call Rude. Miller replaced Bishop Paul Landahl after the Churchwide assembly. Bishop Landahl has spoken out for an end to the ELCA’s discriminatory policy and was the individual who brought “Refrain and Restraint” to the floor. It is unknown how Bishop Miller will respond to the actions at Resurrection.

“Jen’s ministry with us for the past two years has been a Godsend,” says Rev. Brian Hiortdahl “and in our congregation's experience, she has more than proven herself worthy of ordination to the ministry of word and sacrament.

“The Congregation’s vote to call Jen,” he continues, “is consistent with this community's legacy and mission and we hope this action will encourage others to join us in our mission, in prayer and in our pews.”

“I am honored and humbled to be called to Resurrection Lutheran Church,” Rude said following the congregation’s vote to call her as their pastor. “I am inspired by this congregation’s history of responding to the emergent needs of the community and their commitment to justice, generosity and faith.”

Jen Rude is the third generation of social justice pastors in her family. She completed a master of divinity from Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, CA in 2005. She began candidacy process in the Sierra Pacific Synod in April 2004. In 2005, Rude was endorsed by the Extraordinary Candidacy Project (a predecessor organization to Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries) after her ELCA candidacy committee postponed her endorsement decision until after her internship was scheduled to begin. A month into her internship, Rude’s ELCA candidacy committee finally endorsed her. When it was time for approval, Rude’s ELCA candidacy committee again told her to wait, indefinitely postponing her because of her principled non-compliance to the ELCA’s policy of discrimination. Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries is committed to helping Rude and all the members of the roster do ministry now, as long as the church continues to say “not yet.”

Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries (formally Lutheran Lesbian and Gay Ministries and the Extraordinary Candidacy Project) will officially launch on Reformation Day (Oct. 31, 2007) marking the 490 year anniversary Luther’s posting of the 95 theses.

Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries is a national non-profit that credentials and rosters openly gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people for ministry; supports these pastors by working with congregations that will call them and providing mission grants to support their ministry; and provides a network of support to the congregations and pastors. Fourteen ELCA and two independent Lutheran congregations are served by Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries pastors.

Rude’s ordination will be the 12th “Extraordinary Ministry” in the seventeen years since the first ordination of openly gay pastors Jeff Johnson, Ruth Frost and Phyllis Zillhart in San Francisco, CA.

The ordination will take place Saturday, November 17, 2007, at 2:00 pm, and Rude will be installed as Associate Pastor during the 10:00 am worship service on Sunday. The services are open to the public at Resurrection Lutheran Church at 3309 N Seminary Ave Chicago, IL 60657.
In case you wonder if Miss Rude is aptly surnamed, you may want to look at her stillborn (from 4 years ago) Jen's Candidacy Blog.

Shrimp offers prayers for Bishop Miller, who was installed into office less-than 60 days ago.


Anonymous said...

I find the following statement disheartening, the entire situation notwithstanding. "Jen Rude is the third generation of social justice pastors in her family."

Not Word and Sacrament Pastor... not Pastor of the Gospel...
not Christian pastor
but 'social justice pastor," a term that can be translated to any leftist secular speaker today.

ELCA as a denomination forfeits its right to be a Christian church.

Rev. Megan M. Rohrer said...

The ELCA constitution requires all pastors to speak out about social justice - sadly, few do. That is the need for the clarification. Of course they are ministers of Word and Sacrament, of course they are for the Gospel, of course they are Christian.

In honor of the 292 times Martin Luther declared mandated celibacy for pastors against the Gospel, Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries, like you (though obviously we have different understandings), calls the ELCA back to its confessional Lutheran roots.

Lest it be forgotten, Jen has wonderful gifts for ministry. She has discerned God's call in her life and that call has been affirmed not only by her congregation, but also by the church at large. I do not believe that Jen's sexuality (or anything for that matter) could prevent God from using her for God's work in the world.

Anonymous said...

Except those pesky 1 Corinthians passages speaking against Women's ordination, gay or otherwise.

Of course, secular social 'gospel' proclivities overshadow anything Christian, Biblical, or Lutheran.

And this debate will go nowhere. nuff said.

Pastor Zip said...

anonymous #1 writes: ELCA as a denomination forfeits its right to be a Christian church.

If you are basing that judgement upon the bizarre "social justice pastor" phrase (one I've never seen before reading it here), that came from the ELM press release. Indeed, the ELCA is in serious trouble, and the debate over the place of homosexuals within it is one of the more visible symptoms of that. But please don't judge the ELCA on those who reject its standards.

Shrimp said...

Hi, Megan. Nice to see you posting here once again. You've got an anniversary coming up, do you not?

Regretfully, I must mention that you are not, nor will be Miss Rude, an ELCA pastor. That ELCA congregations have called you tells us how they, and you, regard the ELCA Constitution. That is as if the proclamation of the congregation you serve did not make your regard for the Lutheran confessions or the teachings of Martin Luther clear enough already.

So when you write of the "church at large" affirming her ministry, maybe you could give us a hint as to just which "church at large" you are referring to. Seems to this creature like it is, at best, an angry at her Father, rebellious step-child of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.


Cap'n Bill said...

"'God is the actor in all of this,' said Rude, 27..."

That is indeed my hope. I can think of two ways that He is "acting." Either that is to be seen most clearly in abandonment of a willful people having their way in a once proud wing of the Church (which still relishes its favorite saints) and all this GLBTQ trauma drama (remember body parts!)is best seen as enfleshment of Romans 1:24-32,
"Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. 25 For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. 26 For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, 27 and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error. 28 And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; 32 and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them."

Biblically speaking, it is either repent and go on as part of the church of your forbears or blaze unrepentant, disobedient trails into the unknown, which if my reading of Scripture is correct, will lead you not to Holden Village but to Blazes itself.

Lord, have mercy.

Shrimp said...

Megan writes: In honor of the 292 times Martin Luther declared mandated celibacy for pastors against the Gospel...

We notice, Megan, that you have written that phrase several times across the internet, but that the number is different every time. (It appears the number grows larger each time, but we weren't keeping track of when you were writing each of these.) We are curious: might you be publishing documentation of this at some point? And do you expect that many will be convinced by it to redefine marriage (Luther's answer to celibacy, is it not?) to mean something other than a man and a woman?


Jimmy said...

She did it! Congratulations to Jen Rude, the ELM, and Resurrection Lutheran Church of the ELCA! Blessings to all who respond to God's call for peace and justice. What a great blessing to hear God's call to Sacramental servant leadership in God's church!
"Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Mt 5:10

Cap'n Bill said...

Hey Jimmy, thanks for dropping by. We're trying to have a conversation. Maybe you can come back and tell us a few things. What is "it"! If you mean go throught with threats to have a protest, from what I've read there was never any doubt with Ms. Rude.

Please explain why disrupting a denomination, pulling it away from other serious concerns, is "peace and justice".

Anonymous said...

Peace and justice....sounds like a Social Gospel...which is no gospel at all...but then, that's what passes for Scripture in leftist mainline denominations.

The good ship ELCA...

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