Saturday, February 23, 2008

Mutiny in Port!


Cap'n Bill here: Is there anything more evil than a mutiny! Believe you me, if you were a captain, you'd know the answer to that one mighty quick!

Well, mutiny at sea or mutiny in port, mutiny is mutiny. Been a long time since it was safe for a sailor to go ashore in San Francisco, but now, even the clergy are mutinous. Get a load of this bilge...

Exigencies of Our Apostleship: On January 24, the San Francisco Conference of the Sierra Pacific Synod elected Pr. Steve Sabin to the office of Dean. On January 30, Sierra Pacific Synod Bishop David G. Mullen (pictured) issued a letter in which he cited SB12.01.04 and SB12.01.05 from the synod constitution and declared the election invalid and the deanship of the conference vacant because Pr. Sabin is not on the Synod's clergy roster. (Pr. Sabin is rostered with Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries.)

Copies of the Bishop's letter went to all congregations and pastors in the synod. On February 18,, a letter over Pr. Sabin's signature went out from the Conference Cabinet and clergy of the San Francisco Conference to Bishop Mullen. Copies went to all congregations and pastors in the synod. The letter reads in part:

"Since the assembly of the conference has already made known its will and opinion regarding the provisions of SB12.01.04, we the Conference cabinet and clergy are constrained and by conscience bound, respectfully, to decline to regard the election as invalid, to appoint another Dean, or to abide by said provisions. This refusal is with profound sadness. We had hoped that you would better understand the exigencies of our apostleship in San Francisco. The policies of the ELCA regarding noncelibate lesbian and gay clergy, the heart of this unfortunate episode, are a scandal and grave hindrance to proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ in this city. As Christ himself declares, "If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were fastened around your neck and you were drowned in the depth of the sea." (Mt 18:6) We cannot allow the policies of the ELCA, which hardly rise to the level of adiaphora, to hinder the central mission of the Church. In this conviction, we take hope and encouragement from your powerful and inspiring sermon on the Feast of the Presentation. Your sermon that evening was a refreshing example of the true power of bishops as outlined in Augsburg 28. Your call to make present within the Church God's baptismal call to discipleship and service regardless of gender or sexuality deeply moved all who heard your preaching. We are your flock in San Francisco. Heeding the admonition of Scripture and keeping faith with our Confessional heritage, we desire nothing but to live in obedience and harmony with you, our Bishop. Yet this harmony and obedience is only possible when you, our Bishop, stand in the place of Jesus Christ and mediate to us Christ's gracious and reconciling Word and example. With humility and hope, we urge you to take up the work you so wonderfully outlined in your sermon. Set the example for the reformation and strengthening of Christ's Church by affirming the election of our new Dean. Join with us in taking up the Cross of Christ and enduring the doubts and scorn of this sad, divided world so that the love of Christ, his forgiveness, and the transformative power of the Holy Spirit might reach into every heart."

Sorry, the Holy Spirit don't do that kind of transformation!

A big ahoy to the bretheren and sistern at
for the heads up!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Two religions, one church continued:

Yesterday on ALPB Forum Online there was a strenuous dialogue between one proponent of same sex blessings and a raft of opponents. The lone supporter finally posted:

Re: Did Jesus Speak To Homosexual Relations?
« Reply #276 on: February 15, 2008, 06:32:14 PM »
Quote from: Jim_Krauser on February 15, 2008, 05:54:46 PM
"I'm sorry but I cannot be convinced that the permanent emotional and sexual relationship between two persons of the same gender is any more sinful than eating pork."

Then one of the moderators said: I'd say this amounts to the very definition of an impasse.

I was floored by the comparison of an equivalence between same sex union and eating pork. Therefore I couldn't agree with the moderator calling this an "impasse". It is much more a declaration of independance than a peace treaty.

I can't help but think at times that all this back and forth is for nothing. At other times I read things which affirmed the great alarm I experienced back in 2004 when I decided that it was more important to speak up about these two understandings of Christianity than what harm might result from the debate.

For me, I am much more alarmed that someone with the office of pastor would be saying "I can't see the difference between that and eating pork" than I am that "civilians" have decided that is the case and they are doing it.

So, I guess we'll see what happens. People are taking stands on both sides.

From the canary in a coal mine, the pioneering effort out in BC:

Second church in Diocese of New Westminster Set to Respond to Leadership’s Intransigence
Darah Hansen and Chad Skelton, Vancouver Sun

Members of an Anglican church in Abbotsford are expected to become the second local congregation in a week to split from Vancouver-area Bishop Michael Ingham over his support for same-sex blessings.

And two more Anglican churches -- St. Matthias/ St. Luke and The Church of the Good Shepherd -- in Vancouver are poised to fill out similar ballots later this month as orthodox followers openly challenge Ingham's liberal vision for the church.

"We are prepared to act on our faith," said Rev. Trevor Walters of St. Matthew's Anglican parish in Abbotsford, whose members will cast their votes Sunday.

Read it all:

I particularly "like" (sarcasm) the pure elitist dismissive of the diocesan spokesperson's reference to a congregation that split way back in 2004, "That parish [that left] . . . now worships in a school gym somewhere," he said.

Not a particularly great mainstream piece. They seem to me in general to be fixated on "anti-homosexuals" and power-wrangling but it is good to note that some people are taking a stand for the truth, they are paying a price and in the midst of it all the truth does get told.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Lutheran CORE News 2.1

February 12, 2008
(Please copy and distribute as widely as possible.)

New web site!
Lutheran Core has a new web site -
Thanks to Jerry Youngquist in North Branch, Minn., for designing and building the new site. Your feedback and suggestions for improving the site are most welcome. Send your comments to

We would like more information added to our blog -, which is linked to the "News" menu on our web site. Please read the blog, comment on anything there, and pass it on to others.

There is also a Lutheran CORE group on Facebook –! We urge you to join the 29 members now in the group. It is a great way to interact with some of the younger folks who also are dedicated to reform within the ELCA.

+ + +

New Advisory Council
We welcome a group of outstanding leaders in the ELCA who have agreed to serve on our Advisory Council. Surely you will recognize some of the names on this list:
Mr. Alan Beaver, Salisbury, North Carolina, member of Lasting Word, North Carolina Synod
Rev. John Beem, Miltona, Minnesota, former Bishop of East Central Wisconsin Synod
Dr. Robert Benne, Professor Emeritus Roanoke College, Virginia, and Director of the Center for Religion and Society
Dr. Carl Braaten, Sun City West, Arizona, Center for Catholic and Evangelical Theology and Senior Editor of Pro Ecclesia
Rev. James R. Crumley, Jr., Chapin, South Carolina, former Bishop of the Lutheran Church in America
Rev. Paul Gausmann, Pastor of St. Paul Lutheran Church, York, Pennsylvania and member of Lutherans Reform! in the Lower Susquehanna Synod
Rev. Jeffray Greene, Pastor of American Lutheran Church, Rantoul, Illinois and Editor of FOCL Point, Fellowship of Confessional Lutherans
Rev. Gary Hatcher, Pastor of St. Peter Lutheran Church, Greene, Iowa and member of call to Faithfulness in the NE Iowa Synod
Rev. George Mocko, Towson, Maryland, former Bishop of Delaware-Maryland Synod
Rev. Dennis Nelson, Pastor of Christ Lutheran Church, West Covina, California and member of the Evangelical Mission Network
Dr. James Nestingen, St. Paul, Minnesota, Professor Emeritus, Luther Seminary, St. Paul, Minnesota
Rev. Richard Niebanck, Delhi, New York, Former Secretary for Social Concerns, Department of Church in Society, Division for Mission in North America in the Lutheran Church in America
Rev. Russell Saltzman, Pastor of Ruskin Heights Lutheran Church, Kansas City, Missouri, and former editor of Forum Letter
Rev. Kenneth Sauer, Columbus, Ohio, former Bishop of Southern Ohio Synod and Chair of ELCA Conference of Bishops
Rev. Beth Schlegel, Pastor of Christ Lutheran Church, York, Pennsylvania
Rev. Fred Schumacher, Manchester, New Jersey, Executive Director of the American Lutheran Publicity Bureau
Rev. Morris Vaagenes, Shoreview, Minnesota, Pastor Emeritus of North Heights Lutheran Church, Roseville, Minnesota
We will gather this group for an initial meeting in late April and invite them to consider how they can support the work of Lutheran CORE. This group is particularly qualified to comment upon the draft social statement on human sexuality and the Bible study materials being released for congregations. We are hoping that they can add ideas from their own areas of expertise.

+ + +

Steering Committee
The Steering Committee has met twice since our last newsletter, once by conference call and once at Upper Arlington Lutheran Church near Columbus, Ohio.

We clarified some administrative issues and reaffirmed our financial commitment to reimburse the WordAlone Network for their services to us. Lutheran CORE steering committee members also will attend meetings of the ELCA church council.

In October 2002 the ELCA outreach office in Chicago acknowledged a relationship with an independent Lutheran organization, Lutherans Concerned/North America (a gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered group). Lutheran CORE is seeking similar recognition by a churchwide office. The appropriate paperwork has been submitted and we have sought advice from appropriate ELCA officials on how to apply for this status. It will not constitute endorsement by the ELCA, nor will it establish any control by the ELCA over how we operate. It may allow for donations to be made to Lutheran CORE using the Simply Giving program.

+ + +

Annual Gathering
The annual gathering of Lutheran CORE will again be held in conjunction with the WordAlone Network annual convention. We will meet during the first workshop time on Monday afternoon, April 14, at Calvary Lutheran Church in Golden Valley, Minn. The Steering Committee will meet Monday evening and Tuesday morning after the event. Our friends and supporters are always welcome at steering committee meetings.

You must pre-register with WordAlone to reserve a lunch on April 14. For registration information for the WordAlone convention, please watch their website –

The annual gathering of LC3 will be held during the second afternoon workshop session at Calvary on April 14.

+ + +

Unauthorized ordinations
We are concerned that some ELCA bishops are doing nothing about unauthorized ordinations of persons not in compliance with the ELCA’s standards. In particular, there appears to be no discipline for congregations who ordain and call these persons. As we receive information, we hope to publicize it in this newsletter. Please email specific, verifiable information to Pastor Steve Shipman at,

+ + +

News from the field
In spite of icy road conditions that kept several Lutheran CORE representatives and a number of people from greater upstate New York from attending, about 80 persons met in Buffalo, New York, on Saturday, Feb. 2 for the WordAlone Regional Mission event. Surely the groundhog saw his shadow if he dared to come out of his home. Paull Spring sent a manuscript he had planned to present in person and there was much discussion afterwards.

Lutherans Reform! in the Lower Susquehanna Synod in Penn. met in January. with seventeen people in attendance. Updates were made to the suggested list for nominations for various synod and churchwide offices. The group’s new web site is A synod wide event is planned on Mar. 31 at Messiah Lutheran Church in Lebanon, Penn., which will introduce congregations to the reform group’s work. Contact Pr. Paul Gausmann at for more information.

The Indiana-Kentucky Renewal Network sponsored an open forum on Feb. 9 at Christ the Savior Lutheran Church in suburban Indianapolis. The theme of the gathering was "Speaking the Truth in Love - Reforming the Reform." Paull Spring was the keynote speaker, and there were additional presentations and workshops on the network’s ministry and its goals for the ELCA. More than fifty people participated. The group is an organized, active, and growing renewal movement within the Indiana-Kentucky Synod. The group has also asked to be a member group of Lutheran CORE, bringing the total to nine member groups.

Please email the editor with reports of local gatherings. We wish to encourage people around the country with news of the many good things that are happening in the work of reform.

+ + +

Thanks for your donations
We are overwhelmed by the generosity of many people. The steering committee was pleased to hear a report that a large congregation in California joined our growing base of congregational supporters and voted to make a generous contribution. Please learn the process for including Lutheran CORE in your congregation's budget and help us expand our mission of working for reform in the ELCA. We also welcome and need individual gifts in any amount, which have sustained us thus far.

It will not be inexpensive to gather the Advisory Council, and already we are looking at major expenses for our presence at the Minneapolis churchwide assembly in 2009. Our steering committee donates their time, but most need travel reimbursement for meetings and other events including ELCA church council meetings.

Our relationship with the WordAlone Network allows us to avoid many distractions from our mission of reform. While we still hope to secure our own 501(c)(3) non-profit status in the future, for now we operate administratively within WordAlone. Please send your contributions to:

        Lutheran CORE
        c/o WordAlone Network
        2299 Palmer Drive, Suite 220
        New Brighton, MN 55112

Make checks payable to WordAlone Network, and write "Lutheran CORE" on the memo line. Contributions to Lutheran CORE are tax deductible as permitted by law.

+ + +

Pastoral letter
In closing we share a portion of a letter Pr. Tom Renquist wrote to the members of Lord of the Hills Church in Centennial, Col., where he serves. He indicated that 25 years ago he supported the ordination of practicing homosexuals. He continued:
In that congregation we began the discussion by inviting in homosexual Christians who told us, “This is the way God made me, so it must be good.” And precisely there is the misstep: beginning with our human experience. Building our theology on the human experience is a foundation of sand. Eighty years ago, when the Swiss theologian Karl Barth first began his Church Dogmatics, he made just such a false start. Thank goodness, he recognized his mistake after his first volume and started all over again:
…in this second draft I have excluded to the very best of my ability anything that might appear to find for theology a foundation, support, or justification in philosophical existentialism. The Word or existence?
Since we all do know homosexual persons – and like them and love them! – it is so tempting to begin with the human experience: here is X, who so obviously has gifts for the ordained ministry in the parish; whether he has a homosexual partner or not, should we not ordain him and make use of his gifts? Once again it is the argument: “This is the way God made me; therefore it must be good.”

But that is an approach that stays stuck in Genesis 1 and 2 (the Stories of Creation) and totally forgets Genesis 3 (the Story of the Fall into Sin). None of us are as God intended us to be; sin has tainted us all. In fact, that was the sin of Adam and Eve – and therefore the sin of us all – the desire to exalt ourselves and be like God. To this audacious presumption of humans to become God, God answers with the gracious good news of the Gospel: God became human!
His entire letter is posted on our web site at

With such thoughtful, compassionate, and dedicated supporters, there is hope for the ELCA. Keep our bishops, pastors, congregations, and leaders in your prayers. There are no limits on what the Holy Spirit can accomplish. As we observe Lent, recall that the whole Christian movement began with one lonely man dying on a hill outside Jerusalem. We who believe that the power of God raised Jesus can scarcely begin to imagine what this God can do with the ELCA.

Pastor W. Stevens Shipman, steering committee member and communications committee

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Holy Week in the ELCA

Shrimp here. As Cap'n Bill briefly notes below, the first draft of the ELCA Social Statement on Human Sexuality comes out around Holy Week. Pastor Zip's Blog points out that the official launch is March 13, which is the Thursday before Holy Week. Just in time, we think, for some enterprising religion reporters to be on the phone with local ELCA pastors for a comment or two for the Saturday Religion Page which otherwise would be announcing Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, and Good Friday services. That's Higgins Road for you, always ready to help ELCA parish pastors with a little free publicity.

Here is part of the current timeline for the Sexuality Study:
January 25-26
Task force meets to finalize work on the draft of a social statement on human sexuality.

February 29
Church in Society program committee receives a report.

March 6-11
Conference of Bishops meeting receives confidential review of the draft.

March 12, noon, CDT
DRAFT social statement on human sexuality becomes available for confidential review to rostered leaders on a designated Web site.

March 13, noon, CDT
DRAFT social statement on human sexuality is released. It will be available at and a copy will be mailed to every rostered leader.
Rummaging around the ELCA's Journey Together Faithfully reveals that the site hasn't been updated for several months, since "congregations and synods will be asked to study and respond to Journey Together Faithfully, Part Three in the fall of 2006." Though now that the draft is actually finished (if the schedule is being followed) maybe the Task Force's staff will get around bringing it's "What's Happening" page into 2008.

Anyway, after mulling over (once again) the question, "What are these folks at ELCA HQ thinking?" Shrimp thinks the idea Pastor Zip passes on from one of his fellow ELCA pastors isn't too bad:
I am ridiculously trying to see if we can get the ELCA to postpone the release of the new sexuality draft to AFTER Easter. This is an action that has NO concern for the content. Right now the new draft is scheduled for release to the media the Wednesday before Holy Week. ... If you concur that it would be better to release this AFTER Easter I invite you to send and email to Pastor Larson, Bishop Hanson and your local Bishop.
For some reasons why delaying the draft's release for a couple of weeks might be a useful idea, see here. Then, if you are an ELCA pastor or lay leader, you might write a gentle request to Dr. Rebecca Larson, Executive Director of the ELCA Church in Society unit, the ELCA's Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson (or, if you don't want to wait 10 weeks for a personal reply, his assistant), and your Bishop -- in time for that March 6-11 Conference of Bishops meeting.

Wishing you a blessed Mardi Gras, Shrimp out.

The Kiss of Death

Cap'n Bill here:

Argh, mateys. Me out here in the middle of the ocean and all, I get hungry for news from a far country, if you know what I mean. And much of what I get is bad, which makes me heart lower than a dead man's chest (and we ran out of rum, too boot). And the news that makes me grieve sorely is what I hear from me Augstana. What be they thinking? I heard they are going to release the Sexuality Study around Holy Week? Our faithful pastors are burdened enough, worked hard enough, and they have to prepare for Easter and outreach with this albatross around their necks.

"Thank you very much sir, can I have another!!! "

Argh. Out here we see the same for the Presbys and the Piscopals. The more the miserable.

In case you don't know how to keep up on our Anglican friends, Kendall Harmon is your best bet, as he is a Canon Theologian, a priest and a theolog. he strives to be fair and engage. Some people like VirtueOnline. For me, it be a little too breathless, if ye know what I mean. It has a lot of articles though from a lot of sources. Here is one that be a bit of a stinger:

A recent opinion piece, "Kissing the Leper" by The Rev. Tim Vivian, a leading light in the Remaining Episcopal movement in the Diocese of San Joaquin, appeared recently in a Bakersfield California newspaper. Vivian has been Bishop Schofield's antagonist for some time and, in this article, he articulates the unbridgeable chasm between orthodox and "progressive" Christians. The "conversation" is done and dead.VOL takes a hard look at what he says and responds.

OPINION: Kissing the Leper

VIVIAN: Last Friday, I sat with the lepers and outcasts. Inside St. Paul's Episcopal parish, delegates for diocesan convention were meeting, but we were outside because Bishop Schofield refused to allow us inside. Who were we? Members of Integrity, the national organization supporting gays and lesbians in the Episcopal Church. Bishop Schofield not only refused us entrance to St. Paul's, he has refused to allow Integrity to meet in any parish in the diocese; he has forbidden the clergy of the diocese to celebrate Communion for the people of Integrity.

VOL: Bishop Schofield has every right to refuse people who misbehave sexually and who want to promote a behavior that has the potential to kill you from desecrating churches under his authority. Bishop Schofield is well within his ecclesiastical rights to deny a Cross Dressing or Adulterer's minority from using church premises along with those who want to practice syncretistic Hindu festivals in an Episcopal cathedral like the Bishop of Los Angeles J. Jon Bruno did recently.

VIVIAN: I wish this fear and hatred of gays by many Christians were an isolated event, a simple example of theological racism, but it isn't. Among some Christians, homophobia is just one symptom; others are fear of women, fear of sexuality, fear of the poor, fear of those not like us, and fear of change.

VOL: Stuff and nonsense. Bishop Schofield is not the slightest bit afraid of, nor is he remotely a hater of "gays", nor is he a "theological racist". He believes that the practice of sodomy is eternally damning to one's soul and he is answerable to Jesus "in that day" for his stewardship of the diocese. He is not answerable to Susan Russell, a lesbian priest or Tim Vivian, a thorn in the bishop's backside. Bishop Schofield is not remotely homophobic, has no fear of women (he told this reporter he planned to marry, but the Lord called him otherwise). He has no fear of women, fear of sexuality, fear of the poor (the diocese gives generously to the poor), nor does he fear change.The charge that because he does not believe in - women's ordination - makes for a "fear women or sex" is nonsense. That position, held by the vast majority of the church for nearly 2,000 years, is a well established theological position and has got nothing to do with women hating, or haters of sex.

VIVIAN: The reasons for these fears--and the hatred that often accompanies them--are complex, but they are bound together by, and find their common expression in, a profound misunderstanding and misuse of the Bible.

VOL: That "misunderstanding and misuse" of the Bible is an odd charge. It has been standard teaching for more than 2,000 years and only got downgraded to an F rating by a handful of post enlightenment pansexualists like Louie Crew and Gene Robinson over the last 40 years. Before then, Mr. Vivian's description of the Bible would have been laughed at from Cranmer to Calvin, from Luther to Wesley.

VIVIAN: With regard to homosexuality, the extreme conservative argument is simple: Homosexuality is evil, a sin, because the Bible says so. Such an argument reduces a complicated human subject to absolutes of good and evil, right or wrong. Those who make this argument conveniently--or blindly--ignore the fact that "the Bible" variously endorses polygamy, slavery, massacre, and the sequestration of women during their periods.

VOL: Homosexual behavior is a sin, whatever one's sexual attraction might be, it is a sin. Temptation is not a sin, either heterosexual or homosexual, but jumping into bed with someone who is not your legal spouse is. It is not the worst sin by far, but it is sin and the church is not going to change its mind because Mr. Vivian thinks it should. There is nothing particularly "complicated" about it. C. S. Lewis (a pretty complicated thinker) makes this point in "Mere Christianity" about sex. He says "either sex within marriage or celibacy." I would sooner believe Lewis (or St. Paul) rather than Vivian, since my soul depends on it.

VIVAN: Put more positively, the Bible is a human document (or collection of documents), a human witness to God's being, activity, and presence. As a human witness, it is a fallible one. Since the Bible is a human witness, those who wrote it--however inspired they were--were subject to social, political, ethnic, temporal and religious biases and prejudices, just as we are today.In ignoring all this, conservative Biblicists make a serious mistake; unfortunately, in their use of the Bible, they commit a worse one: false use is worse than false understanding. Biblicists mistakenly believe that the Bible is a book of dictates and rules, revealed by God. Once they have this infallible rule book in hand, like a Boy Scout with his handbook, they selectively decide which issues are most important. Usually for Biblicists, it is homosexuality or sexuality in general, abortion, and women's subordination. Biblicists are so obsessed with these issues that they usually ignore questions of social justice, poverty, homelessness, or war and peace.

VOL: Vivian makes two fundamental errors here. Scripture has a double authorship; it is God-breathed words working through man. Both are necessary. "Human authors" did not work apart from the Holy Ghost. Mr. Vivian thinks the Bible is little more than a story book and that we can add our story and change its fundamental theology. He is dead wrong.Secondly, Christians make serious distinctions between an unchanging Moral Order and the Ceremonial Order found in the Old Testament, especially Leviticus. Homosexuality and abortion are seriously proscribed by Scripture. Social justice issues have been more addressed by the Christian Church than any other human body on earth. Just ask Rick Warren, who travels around and notes that the church is often the ONLY single agency, in a location where government cannot be found, that is capable of changing a community. Furthermore, the largest humanitarian agencies in the world today are mostly Christian - World Vision International, Food for the Hungry (and Poor), the Salvation Army, et al are in the forefront on the war against poverty, homelessness and social justice. I have never found a humanist or atheist organization that comes remotely close to doing what they do. Mr. Vivian is talking arrant nonsense. Furthermore, no one liberated women more than Jesus, and while the church has had an up and down history on that issue, in the end women have more freedom in Christian cultures than Muslim ones. Mr. Vivian should spend a week in Saudi Arabia to see how women are treated. As far as women in the church are concerned, the fact that most denominations do not ordain them does not mean that women are in any way suppressed or oppressed. Mother Teresa never said she felt oppressed, and the church will remember her long after we have forgotten the names of many popes.

So, me mates can go here and read the whole thing. See clearly, mates, where the progressives go. They always, always denigrate the Scriptures. At the bottom it's what we have always said, this battle is not over sexuality, it's about the apostolic faith.

Me, I got to get back to the wheel, looks like a storm is blowing!

The good ship ELCA...

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