Wednesday, June 25, 2008

What A.R.E. They Thinking?

Likewise, they teach that this faith is bound to yield good fruits and that it ought to do good works commanded by God on account of God's will and not so that we may trust in these works to merit justification before God.
Shrimp here. We suspect that you'll recognize that from the Augsburg Confession, specifically Article VI which is titled "Concerning the New Obedience" (Kolb-Wengert edition, page 41). "They" are, of course, the representatives of the churches who signed the the Augsburg Confession. It doesn't get much more "Lutheran" than that.

Earlier this month, we mentioned that Augsburg Fortress' star writer Kelly Fryer was "plenary speaker" for the Metropolitan Chicago Synod Assembly. Author of the bestselling Reclaiming the ''L'' Word in Augsburg Fortress' "Lutheran Voices" series, she parlayed its success into a faculty gig at Luther Seminary, from whence she launched in 2004 A Renewal Enterprise, or "A.R.E." Through A.R.E. Kelly and her partners are inspiring church renewal.

You will also recall that while at Luther and forming A.R.E., then Pastor Fryer went through some "cataclysmic changes" in her life which led to her January 2006 resignation from Luther and the ELCA clergy roster, said changes including "the sad and quiet ending of my marriage very early last year" and "a private journey of my own. It has been scary and confusing, but it has also been full of joy." A journey that her "best friend for over ten years" had also taken. The nature of that journey: sexual orientation. The destination: "We are looking forward to our future together...making a home, raising our kids, doing ministry." That was January 2006.

Part of that ministry, as we reported, includes the former Pastor Fryer and her "life partner," Tana Kjos, becoming the synodically blessed "pastoral leaders" at Christ the King Lutheran Church in the Chicago Loop. The A.R.E. website describes Ms. Kjos as "a transformational leader and engaging speaker with a growing reputation for creative counsel and informed intuition." Indeed.

When we posted Ms. Fryer's resignation here at Shellfish 2½ years ago, Pastor Zip commented:
Let us pray that Luther Sem and Ausgburg Fortress, who have invested so much in her the last couple of years, will not yield to the temptation to pick up, her offer to continue teaching in this church. Having set aside her vocations as wife, mother, and pastor, she is hardly in a position to claim a continued vocation as teacher.
Well, the fruits in her personal life notwithstanding, not only has her publishing status with the ELCA's Publishing Ministry blossomed, we suspect that Pastor Zip never imagined the extent of Ms. Fryer's standing on the Synod Assembly circuit since her disgrace:
  • May 5-6, 2006: South-Central Synod of Wisconsin Assembly featured speaker;

  • April 19-21, 2007: Arkansas-Oklahoma Synod Assembly Renewal Event," leading to the Synod's new mission statement and a follow-up conversation with the A-OK Synod Council (see page 6 of the linked pdf document);

  • May 11-12, 2007 Southeast Michigan Synod Assembly visioning process;

  • May 31—June 3, 2007: Central States Synod Assembly and follow-up consulation with Synod Council;

  • April 24-27 2008 Manitoba/Northwestern Ontario Synod (ELCIC) Convention, presenter at "renewal event";

  • May 2-3, 2008: Southeastern Pennsylania Synod Assembly keynote presentation, “A Wake Up Call” (which the SEPA Assembly blog report headlined, “How have you been changed?" You just can't make this kind of stuff up!);

  • June 6-7, 2008: Metro Chicago Synod Assembly: plenary speaker, with pre-assembly workshop; and

  • June 7, 2008 Indiana-Kentucky Synod Assembly presentation (granted, at 7 am Saturday).
This doesn't include the various synodically-sponsored workshops and teaching gigs, such as last week's "Being & Doing Church In The X-Box Era" for the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago's 2008 Summer Session. "The goal of this course is to help participants (re)imagine what it means to be a missional leader in the 21st century..." Or "Acting Boldly for Mission," the Summer 2007 Bible Study in Lutheran Women Today, the magazine of the Women of the ELCA.

Then coming up, Ms. Fryer mission for renewing the church takes her to:
  • July 3-6, 2008, Lutherans Concerned/North America biennial assembly; and

  • July 10-13, 2008: Evangelical Lutheran Women (the Canadian equivalent to the Women of the ELCA) Convention keynote speaker.
Meanwhile, Shrimp has already seen a notice for Kelly Fryer and A.R.E.:
  • April 2009: Northern Texas - Northern Louisiana Synod Assembly.
Where else on next year's Assembly circuit, with all those Memorial resolutions on a proposed ELCA Statement on Sexuality, will we find this muffin-baking entrepreneur helping transform the ELCA one Synod at a time?

"The new obedience?" And has anyone brought objections to her appearances to any of the Bishops? Shrimp out.

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