Tuesday, October 27, 2009

CORE to Bouman: YES, We're Serious

Shrimp again.

Lutheran CORE has responded to Bishop Bouman's "open letter" of a couple of weeks ago. We've been told that Lutheran CORE first responded with this letter privately to Bishop Bouman, only publishing it on the Lutheran CORE web site after he would have received the letter in person. The letter follows. Shrimp out.

October 16, 2009

The Rev. Stephen P. Bouman
8765 West Higgins Road
Chicago, IL 60631

Dear Pastor Bouman,

This letter is in response to your open letter to Lutheran CORE, which you describe as a personal perspective after attending the Lutheran CORE convocation, September 25-26, at Fishers, Indiana.

We share with you a sense of remorse and sorrow over what has caused Lutheran CORE to take the steps we have taken regarding our relationship with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Over the years both of us, as pastors and as bishops, have been strong advocates for the ministry of the ELCA as one church. We, therefore, take no joy in following a process that will likely lead Lutheran CORE to depart from the ELCA's institutional life and ministry.

We also share with you a strong commitment to Christian mission, in obedience to the Great Commission, for the sake of the world. The two of us, as well as Mr. Ryan Schwarz, made numerous references in our presentations on behalf of the importance of mission in the ministry of the Gospel. The constitution that was adopted at Fishers contains numerous and telling references to mission. More to the point was the decision at Fishers to provide financial and other assistance, as needed, for certain ethnic specific and immigrant African congregations. We recognize that some remarks at the convocation were pointed and blunt. Others spoke in an intemperate manner, something which we ourselves regret. We believe, however, that the vast majority who spoke during the public discussions were positive and irenic. Pastor Paul Ulring, in particular, concluded our gathering with an eloquent plea for forgiveness and reconciliation and called us all to look to the future with hope and confidence.

Obviously we in Lutheran CORE are in disagreement with the decisions of the 2009 churchwide assembly. We see those decisions as part of an ongoing failure, within the churchwide expression of the ELCA, to listen to the words of Holy Scripture and the witness of two thousand years of Christian reflection on the Word of God. For these reasons Lutheran CORE is in the process of discerning prayerfully how God wishes to use us in ministry, a ministry that sadly must take place apart from the ELCA.

Since the conclusion of the Minneapolis assembly, Lutheran CORE has experienced a significant increase in support and participation from many quarters. This support has continued to increase following our convocation in Fishers. The number of Lutherans who identify with Lutheran CORE grows daily. New "chapters" within Lutheran CORE are being organized across the country. We are receiving countless expressions of encouragement from individuals and from churches beyond North America. And all of these developments are taking place from the "grass roots," without any direction from the leadership of Lutheran CORE. The steering committee of Lutheran CORE is taking its responsibilities seriously, as it seeks to follow up on the resolutions that were adopted at our convocation.

In your open letter you ask whether Lutheran CORE is serious about our endeavors. Our response is a resounding YES to that question. We are serious about our fidelity to the Word of God and the Lutheran Confessions. We are serious about strengthening congregational life and ministry. We are serious about witnessing to others in word and deed that Jesus Christ is God's Word of salvation and newness of life for all people. We are serious about the mission to which God is calling us.

As the Holy Spirit calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies us, we place our ministry into the hands of a gracious God, who sustains us with his Word of promise.

Cordially yours,

Kenneth H. Sauer, Chair, Lutheran CORE Advisory Council

Paull E. Spring, Chair, Lutheran CORE Steering Committee

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The good ship ELCA...

The good ship ELCA...
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