Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Bishop Brauer-Rieke: Great Joy and Pride

Shrimp here. The ELCA Bishop of Oregon writes his Synod "with great joy and pride" on the release of the First Draft.
March 13, 2008

Dear Brothers and Sisters of the Oregon Synod,

It is with great joy and pride that I write to you today as the first draft of our proposed ELCA Social Statement on Human Sexuality is released. I write with joy because this draft takes us closer to the adoption of a much needed statement for our church. I write with pride because this draft is evidence of good work done in difficult times. There is work yet to be done, but we are well on our way.

The first time I read this document I disciplined myself to read it word for word and beginning to end, but I must confess I read it with specific questions in mind. You may find yourself doing the same thing. This is understandable. However, once you’ve done this I hope you will go back and begin to digest the statement as a whole for what it is – a word to society from a Lutheran perspective about human sexuality in all it’s diverse dimensions.

As we begin to digest this document together I believe you will be pleased. The draft says much:
  • The notion of family is front and center. It is in family that children are nurtured, kept safe and are taught the basics of trust and love. Lutherans have always maintained this.
  • The statement affirms our traditional understanding that marriage as an institution between a man and a woman, through which the blessings of family flow.
  • The safety and well being of children is held up as a non-negotiable throughout.
  • Demeaning social trends such as the commercialization of sex, pornography, date rape and early adolescent sexual engagement are all spoken to.
  • This statement also recognizes the concerns and questions of single adults, the widowed, divorced and much more.
While doing this the draft also takes seriously the challenges and realities of modern day society.
  • We recognize that financial factors sometimes encourage senior adults to choose co-habitation over legal marriage.
  • We recognize that families come in many configurations including single parent households, blended families, same gender led households and grandparents raising grandchildren.
  • In our world children physically mature earlier than in the past, but often postpone marriage until later than has been common. This draft tackles pre-marital sexual concerns in a realistic way.
The ELCA offers much to society around human sexuality with this statement. It is clear in proclamation, open for engagement and realistic in its hopes and expectations.

With the publication of this draft we now enter into the final stages of our social statement process. I have proposed the following to our Oregon Synod pastors and I invite you into the same journey:

First of all, this document is 45 pages long and it is not all easy reading. I am inviting pastors and other rostered leaders into leadership conversation forums. Our first responsibility is to help you, those we are called to serve, understand and responsibly engage this draft. To help you we must do our homework first.

After this I hope that over the spring and summer you and your congregation will work with the draft. This work awaits the careful conversation of the saints. I will also create a letter or presentation personally as I know many wish to hear my perspective and not all congregations may choose to spend much time on this issue.

Finally, this summer there will be synod hearings scheduled on the draft. You are encouraged to attend. At least one member of the ELCA Human Sexuality Task Force will be present at each hearing and they are most anxious to hear what you have to say. Feedback from these hearings along with written evaluations will be used to shape the final draft taken to the 2009 Churchwide Assembly.

I thank you for your prayers and passions around this most central of human concerns and blessings. We have a good draft, a good process, and your loving concern to bring it to fruition. Let us do so with integrity, honesty, pride and joy.

Bishop Dave Brauer-Rieke
"Realistic," eh? Okay. We'll be engaging with the draft soon.

Question: Is Jesus, or are the New Testament Epistles, "realistic" in instructing those who would be disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ?

With much pride and joy, Shrimp out.

1 comment:

Cap'n Bill said...

"First of all, this document is 45 pages long and it is not all easy reading."

Tell me, Shrimp, what is hard about reading this document?

The good ship ELCA...

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