Sunday, April 25, 2010

WA Network is done, but WordAlone not out

Shrimp here, and that's the headline on this press release from the WordAlone Network. Tip o' the claw to Susan Hogan at pretty good lutherans.


For immediate release
For information: Thomas Walker, vice president
712-389-1735 or Email
April 23, 2010

WA Network is done, but WordAlone not out

by Betsy Carlson, WordAlone Ministries' editor

The WordAlone Network is finished.

But not the work of preaching, teaching and confessing the Word alone, Jesus Christ, by the newly designated WordAlone Ministries.

The WordAlone Network voted to change its name when it met in convention April 18-19 at Calvary Lutheran Church in Golden Valley, Minn., under the banner of “It’s a New Day!”

The convention affirmed that WordAlone will continue to serve congregations, groups and individuals committed to proclaiming the Word of God and to remaining faithful to the Bible, although it ended its attempts to reform the ELCA after its unbiblical decisions on marriage and family and on new standards for ministers at the churchwide assembly last August.

Earlier in the day, WordAlone President Jaynan Clark presented a new vision for WordAlone Ministries in a dynamic report that included her falling to her knees and repenting for anything WordAlone failed to do that the Lord called it to do in the past 10 years.

Still on her knees, she prayed, “Otherwise continue to call us, guide us; send us leaders, evangelists and (on) a mission to go forward and to get beyond the nonsense of . . . celebration of sin.”

After rising from prayer, she said WordAlone wants to stay in the “boiler room doing the work” to support the efforts of faithful Lutheran church bodies.

Faithful Lutheran church bodies closely-related to WordAlone are Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ generally known as LCMC, Canadian Association of Lutherans Churches, Lutheran CORE and the North American Lutheran Church—when it’s established.

WordAlone Ministries will provide preaching, teaching and confessing ministries from what she called a “ministry forge.”

Two ministries newly out of the ministry forge are first responders to the crisis among Lutherans: the Chaplain Corps and the Evangelical Mission Teams. These programs provide assistance and accurate information to those wanting to leave either their congregations or denomination.

The next to be launched will be Life Together Churches in June, in partnership with Lutheran Evangelistic Movement. This ministry will support house churches, cell churches and, via the Internet, a virtual parish.

Clark said she also envisions a worldwide, multi-media evangelism ministry using Internet, radio and television to preach, teach and confess Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. She called this ministry “SALT,” SAlvation, Life and Truth,” and said it will be salt and light to the world.

The existing Clergy Connect electronic list of churches seeking ministers will be upgraded to a two-way tool for churches, clergy and lay ministers to communicate on the Internet.

In its past, WordAlone provided new ministries for congregations and individuals who held to the teachings of the Bible and the Lutheran Confessions. WordAlone Ministries will continue its collaborations with ministry groups such as Lutheran Youth Encounter, World Mission Prayer League, Faith Inkubators, China Service Ventures and East European Mission Network.

Clark introduced Sola Publishing as not just the educational wing of WordAlone but calling it the future for confessional, Lutheran publications. Sola is already producing faithful Sunday School and Vacation Bible School curriculum as well as valuable resources for adult Christian education.

Over the years WordAlone has supported the development of several new ministries.

LCMC was the first ministry WordAlone produced. It was officially launched in 2001 with about 25 churches, became independent and has grown to 400 congregations!

After LCMC came ReClaim Resources, now independent. ReClaim developed an introductory hymnal with nearly 50 hymns and a Lutheran—not ecumenical—order of service and other rites that proclaim God’s word. The group is working on more worship resources.

WordAlone also launched the Institute of Lutheran Theology, which is now functioning as an independent Lutheran online seminary.

Another important ministry development project has resulted in Lutheran CORE which provides affiliation options for Lutherans who are opposed to the recent unbiblical policies being implemented by the ELCA.

A "virtual parish" on the Internet? Shrimp out.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Churchwide Organization "Deeply Concerned"

Shrimp here. Apparently in response to news of the lawsuit regarding the Augsburg Fortress pension plan's failure, the ELCA News Service has issued the following news release. We'll let you read it before we ask a couple of questions.
April 23, 2010

ELCA Churchwide Organization Responds to Pension Plan Lawsuit


CHICAGO (ELCA) -- The churchwide organization of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) said today it is "deeply concerned" for the well-being of participants affected by the termination of a defined benefit compensation retirement plan of Augsburg Fortress Publishers, Minneapolis.

On April 21 former employees of the publisher who were covered by the terminated pension plan filed a class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of Minnesota.

The churchwide organization's statement, issued to the ELCA News Service, said, "The entire ELCA, including the leadership of the churchwide organization, understands the far-reaching implications of this matter, and is deeply concerned for the well-being of the plan participants and continues to hold them in prayer."

"In the midst of this complex, difficult and painful situation we are also mindful of the need to respect both the obligations and the limitations in the legal agreements so that we can be responsible to all of our commitments and relationships as an interdependent church," the statement said.

Augsburg Fortress is separately incorporated entity apart from the ELCA churchwide organization. The publisher has maintained and continues to maintain its own retirement benefits for its staff. The ELCA churchwide organization had no role in the creation, management, funding or termination of the Augsburg Fortress pension plan, according to an April 22 report in the Wall Street Journal.

Plantiffs in the lawsuit are Judith Thorkelson, Karen Walhof, Gayle Aldrich and Jean K. Stanley, all participants in the terminated plan. The suit also included "all others similarly situated" as plaintiffs. Approximately 500 people were affected by the termination of the pension plan.

Named as defendants were Augsburg Fortress; Beth Lewis, president and chief executive officer; John Rahja, chief financial officer; and Sandra Middendorf, vice president of human resources and organizational development; the ELCA; and current and former members of the publisher's board of trustees.

The class action lawsuit seeks to recover losses allegedly suffered by the plantiffs because of what they claim are "breaches of duty" with regard to the termination of the defined benefit pension plan, according to the lawsuit.

The suit also asks the federal district court to declare that the terminated pension plan is not a church plan, but a defined benefit plan regulated by the 1974 Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA).

"We deeply regret any hardship that the termination of our defined benefit retirement plan has caused, but the complaint brought against Augsburg Fortress and other defendants in this matter is wholly without merit," said Lewis, in a statement in response to the suit. "We deny all claims of wrongdoing alleged in the complaint and will seek its dismissal."

"The complaint filed against Augsburg Fortress misrepresents the care with which the plan was administered and the communications that occurred with plan participants," Lewis added.

ELCA Secretary David D. Swartling denied all legal claims made by the plaintiffs against the ELCA.

In 2005 the Augsburg Fortress board of trustees took action to freeze the defined benefit plan, and began offering a 403b defined contribution plan to its employees. The costly defined benefit plan "has been underfunded for about nine years," Lewis said at the time the defined benefit plan was terminated on Dec. 31, 2009.

When that plan was terminated, Lewis said most participants in the defined benefit plan would receive a lump sum payment. Lewis said the trustees provided for a "more equitable allocation of plan assets among plan participants," she wrote in a letter to plan participants. Without the amendment, more than half of the plan participants would have received nothing at all, Lewis wrote.

"We wanted to make certain that we had the most equitable distribution of assets possible," she told the ELCA News Service. "If we had done nothing, the plan would have run out of money in approximately five years and left about 60 percent of those in the plan with no retirement benefits. We didn't think that was equitable or fair."

Distributions were made to plan participants in March, Lewis said.

For information contact:
John Brooks, Director (773) 380-2958 or
Shrimp again. We think Pastor Richard Johnson, editor of Forum Letter raises an interesting question over at ALPB Forum Online:
Now doesn't that strike you as odd? I didn't know that an organization could actually speak. Or, if an organization can speak, I thought it could only speak through official actions by, say, it's "board of directors" (which, we are incessantly told, is the Church Council in the ELCA).

If you read the rest of the story, you heard Beth Lewis quoted a lot. She's speaking for Augsburg Fortress. But who is speaking for the ELCA?... Right now I'm just pondering: Who is this "churchwide organization" that says these things, anyway? Anyone got a clue?
Shrimp hasn't the slightest idea, but we are struck that here's a (seemingly rare) instance where the usually loquacious ELCA Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson is nowhere to be quoted.

No, the only named ELCA official is "ELCA Secretary David D. Swartling denied all legal claims made by the plaintiffs against the ELCA." Sure, there's the "deep concern" and "prayers" of a (suddenly) faceless churchwide organization, which we've been told has "no fiduciary responsibility" for the brothers and sisters who work for the ELCA's publishing ministry. Anyone else here thinking, "Go in peace, be warmed and filled" (James 2:15-17)?

Rather than holding hands singing Kum Bay Ya, someone in the ELCA churchwide organization ought to follow up on an idea Pastor Steven Tibbetts (aka Pastor Zip) raised elsewhere on ALPB Forum Online: the ELCA sets up a fund for these Augburg Fortress employees, similar to the Special Needs Retirement Fund. That fund was established by the 1993 Churchwide Assembly for pastors, those
retired leaders of the church [who] received lower incomes and either they or the congregations were, at times, unable to provide contributions to the pension plan. Consequently, they retired with low pension income and experience a very real financial hardship.
Then have a special churchwide offering -- and don't diddle around for a couple of years planning, as is happening with the Lutheran Malaria Initiative, but get on it now.

So, Bishop Hanson, what's preventing the ELCA from showing that sort of moral leadership?

Shrimp out.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The ELCA's Economic Justice: See You in Court

Shrimp here, with a follow-up on the the Augsburg Fortress pension plan that, "severely underfunded," was abruptly cancelled at the beginning of the year, leaving some 500 Augsburg Fortress retirees and employees with only a small fraction of what they had been promised at retirement.

The Wall Street Journal reported first thing this morning:
Employees and retirees of Minneapolis publisher Augsburg Fortress are suing their employer, alleging in their complaint that it allowed their pension plan to fail, and used its connection to the Lutheran church as a legal shield to avoid paying them all their pensions.

The suit, filed in federal court in Minneapolis on Wednesday, comes more than three months after the company announced it was terminating the plan, saying it had been underfunded for nine years. The plan had only $8.6 million to pay $24.2 million in pension obligations to 500 employees and retirees, said the company, which publishes books for the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, including hymnals, the works of theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and Garrison Keillor's latest book....

The publisher had asked the church for help, but "the church-wide organization advised us that it had no obligations or fiduciary duties" to do so, Ms. Lewis [Beth Lewis, Augsburg Fortress' CEO] noted.

"I'm disappointed that the church hasn't felt more responsibility for this," said Mr. Lipscomb [James Lipscomb, a 33-year Augsburg Fortress employee laid off in 2008]. "If the basis for a church plan is the company's relationship to the church, is it reasonable that the church can feel no responsibility for what its publisher is doing?"

Augsburg Fortress is a separately incorporated unit under the ELCA church wide organization. "The church-wide organization had no role in the creation, management or termination of that plan. That was Augsburg Fortress and its Board of Trustees decision," said John Brooks, a spokesman for the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America.

The suit alleges that the pension at Augsburg Fortress wasn't a church plan, but falls under the federal pension law because it promised pensions to its employees. The complaint claims that the employer violated its fiduciary duty by allowing the plan to become underfunded, and by failing to warn participants of the plans poor condition. And even if it is deemed to be a church plan, it failed its state-law duties to prudently manage the plans and its assets, the suit argues.

Read it all in "Perils of Church-Related Pensions" here.

Shrimp reminds you of the following we quoted last January from the "Questions and Answers Regarding Termination of the Augsburg Fortress Retirement Plan" that Augsburg Fortress sent the affected employees/retiress:
10. Why can't the ELCA churchwide organization make up for the funding deficiency in the plan?

A. We thoroughly explored options for overcoming the funding deficiency, including seeking support from the ELCA churchwide organization. However, the ELCA churchwide organization advised us that it has no obligations or fiduciary duties with respect to the Augsburg Fortress plan. Augsburg Fortress is a separately incorporated program unit of the ELCA and our retirement plan is separate from any plan sponsored by the ELCA.
Now we're going to quote from the "Human Dignity" section of Economic Life: Sufficient, Sustainable Livelihood for All, a Social Statement approved by the 1999 ELCA Churchwide Assembly:
Human dignity: Human beings are created "in God's image" (Genesis 1:27) as social beings whose dignity, worth, and value are conferred by God. Although our identity does not depend on what we do, through our work we should be able to express this God-given dignity as persons of integrity, worth, and meaning. Yet work does not constitute the whole of our life. When we are viewed and treated only as workers, we tend to be exploited.

Employers have a responsibility to treat employees with dignity and respect. This should be reflected in employees' remuneration, benefits, work conditions, job security, and ongoing job training. Employees have a responsibility to work to the best of their potential in a reliable and responsible manner. This includes work habits, attitudes toward employers and co-workers, and a willingness to adapt and prepare for new work situations. No one should be coerced to work under conditions that violate their dignity or freedom, jeopardize their health or safety, result in neglect of their family's well-being, or provide unjust compensation for their labor....

Power disparities and competing interests are present in most employment situations. Employers need competent, committed workers, but this does not necessarily presume respect for the personal lives and needs of individual workers. Individual workers depend on the organization for employment as their means of livelihood, but this does not necessarily presume respect for the organization's interest and goals. Management and employees move toward justice as they seek cooperative ways of negotiating these interests when they conflict. Because employees often are vulnerable and lack power in such negotiations, they may need to organize in their quest for human dignity and justice. When this occurs, accurate information and fair tactics are expected of all parties involved.

We commit ourselves as a church to:
  • hire without discriminating on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, age, disabilities, sexual orientation, or genetic factors;
  • compensate all people we call or employ at an amount sufficient for them to live in dignity;
  • provide adequate pension and health benefits, safe and healthy work conditions, sufficient periods of rest, vacation, and sabbatical, and family-friendly work schedules; ...
Shrimp wonders if top ELCA leadership took any of that in consideration in deciding that it had no fiduciary responsibility for employees of "the ministry of publishing within the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America."

Shrimp out.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

ELM Gives Thanks

Shrimp again. Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries issued this statement yesterday:
Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries (ELM) gives thanks that the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) is now living more fully into the inclusive vision that many have had for this church for so long.

The ELCA made historic advances toward being a more inclusive church when the Church Council formally adopted changes in ministry policies this weekend. The change in policy allows people in same-sex relationships to serve as pastors and rostered leaders in the ELCA.

The documents approved this weekend include a Rite of Reception for extraordinarily ordained pastors on the ELM roster, the ELCA Candidacy Manual, Vision & Expectations (used to establish expectations for rostered leaders), Definitions & Guidelines for Discipline (used for discipline of rostered leaders), and changes to the Board of Pensions policy to include same-sex partners and families. All votes passed overwhelmingly. Members of the ELM roster who wish to begin the process to join the roster of the ELCA may do so immediately.

Twenty years ago two ELCA congregations, St. Francis Lutheran Church and First United Lutheran Church, broke with ELCA policy to call an openly gay man, Jeff Johnson, and two openly lesbian women, Ruth Frost and Phyllis Zillhart. The actions of these congregations and pastors began a movement now known as Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries. Their vision has made it possible for dozens of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people to follow a call to ministry. It is a joyful time in the church as the ELCA opens wider its doors to the fullness of God's creation.

We express gratitude for the congregations and individuals who have long supported gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender pastors during times when they were punished and alienated for doing so and for those who continued to follow a call to ministry despite incredible barriers. We give thanks for the Goodsoil Legislative Team, Lutherans Concerned/North America, the voting members of the ELCA Churchwide Assembly, staff, Church Council, Conference of Bishops and the leadership of Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson.

We give thanks to God and pray that one day all may find that the doors of the ELCA are open wide to them.
Shrimp out.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Lutherans Concerned Triumphant

Shrimp again, with the reaction from Lutherans Concerned/North America.

ELCA Church Council approves all full-inclusion revisions without opposing votes

Sunday, 11 April 2010 17:33

This weekend, the ELCA Church Council meeting in Chicago moved the decision of the 2009 Churchwide Assembly into policy by replacing the language in church documents that excluded ministers in committed same-gender relationships with a policy that allows congregations and organizations to call a fully-qualified minister in a committed, same-gender relationship. And, the Council also approved the way to reinstate ministers who have been removed from the roster because of the previous policy and to receive ELM pastors onto the roster of the ELCA. The Council also made the benefits of the ELCA pension plan available to rostered ministers and employees in committed, same-gender relationships.

There were no votes on the Council opposing the adoption of the revised documents, the pension plan inclusion, and the rite of reception for those Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries pastors who were ordained “extra ordinem.”

The ELCA has reached two milestones long sought by the movement for full inclusion. First, it has eliminated all prohibitions against qualified people in a same-gender relationship serving on the ELCA’s roster of ministers. Second, and more importantly, it created a pathway that frees the gifts of ELCA members to pursue ministry and mission with new vigor. Each of these steps is crucial for both our continued healing and our bold walk into a more just future.

These actions are important because they are a major milestone along the journey of full inclusion. We have a policy that recognizes the gifts of its members to spread the good news of God in Christ Jesus and that will allow the return of those who have been removed or alienated from rostered leadership solely on the basis of the old policy.

Bishop Hanson said that one of the results of the Council’s actions would be new life in the church through new leaders. Bishop Hanson also thanked the Church Council for shepherding this task in most thoughtful way. He lifted the Conference of Bishops’ participation up as key to the process.

As we reflected on the great amount work and effort it took, we observed a paradox. On one hand, in order to follow God’s call for justice, the former policy forced us, as a community, to restrict how we could use our gifts. Many of us spent considerable time and effort working to make the ELCA a more inclusive church. However, even within a relatively narrow focus on the policy concerning LGBT people’s role within the church, we have lifted up crucial questions for the church: What is the relationship of sexuality to salvation in Christ? What is the diversity in God’s wondrous creation? What is sinful? How do Lutherans read and interpret scripture? Who continues to face barriers to ministry and mission? How do we journey together faithfully, in spite of so many differences? What some people have dismissed as a narrow issue has both opened up and profoundly deepened our moral and theological life. God indeed works in mysterious ways.

Although we are closer to full-participation than we ever thought that we would be, there is still further to go. The ELCA continues to be heavily involved in a myriad of issues as it reaches out in Christ’s name and mission. We pray that our well-earned celebration as a community of reconciliation will renew us, will energize us to go yet more miles with even more joy and less fear, together with the whole people of God, as we follow Christ in love, healing, and abundant life.

Since the August decision to change policy, we have heard from many of you that it feels as though celebration is “stuck in our throats.” Verily, the time has come to clear our throats. Currently, censures are being lifted from congregations, for which we can celebrate. Soon, we will start to see pastors received and reinstated across the whole church. By the time we gather together in Minneapolis at Let Justice Roll Down Like Waters, we will be ready to shout out in holy joy! We hope that you can join us in July to add your voice to the chorus of people singing praise and thanksgiving to God.

Finally, there are acknowledgements to make. There are so many people who have worked to overturn the policy of the ELCA for so long. Among them, we offer thanks to God for the past and present service of the Goodsoil Legislative Team, the Regional Coordinators, Board, and staff of LC/NA, countless volunteers in congregations and synods, and the working group of Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries.

Alleluia! Christ is risen! Thanks be to God!

[An expanded version of this précis will appear in the upcoming Concord.]

It's Official: ELCA Church Council Acts

Shrimp here, with the official release from the ELCA NEWS SERVICE:

April 11, 2010

ELCA Council Adopts Significant Revisions to Ministry Policies


CHICAGO (ELCA) -- The Church Council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) adopted a series of historic and sweeping revisions to ministry policy documents April 10, the result of months of extensive writing, comment and review by hundreds of leaders and members following the 2009 Churchwide Assembly.

The Church Council is the ELCA's board of directors and serves as the interim legislative authority of the church between churchwide assemblies. The council is meeting here April 9-12. The next churchwide assembly is in Orlando, Fla., in August 2011.

The changes were called for by the 2009 ELCA Churchwide Assembly, which directed that policy documents be revised to make it possible for eligible Lutherans in committed, publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous same-gender relationships to serve as ELCA clergy and professional lay leaders. The assembly directed that revised policies recognize the convictions of those who believe the ELCA should not allow such service. The assembly also adopted a social statement on human sexuality.

The council adopted revisions to two documents that spell out the church's behavioral expectations of ELCA professional leaders -- "Vision and Expectations: Ordained Ministers in the ELCA" and "Vision and Expectations: Associates in Ministry, Deaconesses and Diaconal Ministers in the ELCA." The council also adopted revisions to a document that specifies grounds for discipline of professional leaders, "Definitions and Guidelines for Discipline," and it adopted revisions to the "ELCA Candidacy Manual," used by regional committees to help guide candidates seeking to become professional leaders in the ELCA.

Council members asked few questions and commented briefly on each proposed document before approving them. Only minor editorial changes were proposed and adopted by the council. Each revised document was adopted overwhelmingly.

The Rev. Keith A. Hunsinger, council member, Oak Harbor, Ohio, who said he does not agree with the sexuality decisions made in August 2009, announced April 11 that he had abstained on each vote on the documents. He explained that he didn't believe that the first drafts of the documents released last fall embodied the full range of decisions made at the 2009 assembly. "My conscience won't allow me to vote for any of these documents, but as a member of the board of directors, I can't vote against the will of the churchwide assembly," he told the ELCA News Service.

However, Hunsinger told the council that the final forms of each document reflected "the breadth and depth" of the decisions, including the fact that "we agreed to live under a big tent," and that multiple voices would be heard. "Because those documents now said that, I feel my ideas and I are still welcome in the ELCA," he said.

The revised policies are effective immediately, said David D. Swartling, ELCA secretary. Final revised text of each document will be posted online at by the end of April, he said.

Following council approval of the policies, the Rev. Mark S. Hanson, ELCA presiding bishop, expressed his appreciation to many, including the council and the Conference of Bishops for leading the revision process over the past few months. He also thanked the Rev. Stanley N. Olson, executive director, ELCA Vocation and Education, the lead staff person working with church leaders and various constituencies through the revision process.

Olson thanked many others who have worked for changes in ministry policies through more than two decades of effort. "This is the work of many -- hundreds, thousands of people who have reflected, thought and prayed. We are still a church that is tense over this, but we are Easter people, and I think we have done an Easter thing today," he told the council.

Prior to voting, the Rev. A. Donald Main, Lancaster, Pa., chair of the ELCA Committee on Appeals, which led the effort to revise Definitions and Guidelines for Discipline, told the council that the document had not been revised since 1993. New sections address matters such as integrity, and substance abuse and addiction, he said.

The Committee on Appeals also "considered each and every word, constantly testing different language so as to be clear and concise as possible, and remain faithful to our charge and to the social statement and ministry policies recommended and adopted by our assembly," Main added.

The two Vision and Expectations documents and the Candidacy Manual are "tools in the service of God's mission through the ELCA, primarily to assist us in that work of calling forth and supporting faithful, wise and courageous leaders," Olson said. The Vision and Expectations documents were most recently revised in the early 1990s, and the Candidacy Manual was revised in the past few years, he said.

"We have not attempted to spell out every possible situation and to give definitive direction for every possible situation," he told the council. "There are broad principles in these documents, and there are guidelines with some details." Olson added the documents call for the ELCA to trust established processes and its leaders who have responsibility for oversight and decision-making.

"Our next step is to orient our staff and the candidacy committees," Olson said. A memo summarizing key policy revisions will be sent this week to help guide synod bishops, staff working with candidates for professional leadership, candidacy committee chairs, seminary presidents and selected staff, and applicants and candidates.

Olson added that the ELCA Vocation and Education program unit, the ELCA Office of the Secretary and others are responsible for monitoring the new policies, and suggesting further revisions and guidelines if necessary.

For information contact:
John Brooks, Director (773) 380-2958 or

Sunday, April 11, 2010

ELCA Church Council Finishes Job, Moves On

Shrimp again, just having checked the ELCA News Twitter Feed:
#ELCA Council affirms timeline for 2011 genetics social statement, asks for conversation on future statements & report & recs in Nov.
1 minute ago via HootSuite

#ELCA Council authorizes rite of "Reception to the Roster of Ordained Ministers" for ELM pastors OK'd by candidacy comms and who have call
6 minutes ago via HootSuite

#ELCA Council amends various Board of Pensions benefit plans to extend benefits to eligible partners in same-gender relationships.
about 2 hours ago via HootSuite

Secretary Swartling says 308 congs. of 10,000+ have taken 1st votes to leave #ELCA -- 228 passed, 87 failed; 89 passed 2nd votes.
about 3 hours ago via HootSuite
The image running through our mind is Nero fiddling...

Shrimp out.

ELCA Church Council Is Busy...

Shrimp here.

The ELCA Church Council has been meeting and ELCA News has been updating on its Twitter feed. Here's the news so far:
#ELCA Church Council re-elects Rev. Rebecca Larson to 4-year term as exec. dir., ELCA Church in Society program unit.
about 5 hours ago via HootSuite

#ELCA Church Council adopts revised Candidacy Manual.
about 6 hours ago via HootSuite

Church Council adopts revised version of "Vision and Expectations: Associates in Ministry, Deaconesses and Diaconal Ministers in the #ELCA."
about 7 hours ago via HootSuite

#ELCA Church Council adopts revised version of "Vision and Expectations: Ordained Ministers in the ELCA"
about 7 hours ago via HootSuite

#ELCA Church Council adopts revised "Definitions and Guidelines for Discipline" established by Committee on Appeals.
about 7 hours ago via HootSuite

#ELCA Church Council adopts revised CW current fund spending auth. for '10 to $69.3 million; World Hunger revised to $20.3 million.
about 11 hours ago via HootSuite

#ELCA PB tells Church Council he's "feeling confident hope" about the ELCA's future.
about 14 hours ago via HootSuite

#ELCA PB reports to Church Council nearly $9 million given by ELCA members for Haiti earthquake relief and recovery.
about 14 hours ago via HootSuite

#ELCA PB tells Ch. Council he sent letter to Pope Benedict XVI pledging prayers for him, for sexual abuse victims and for Catholic Church.
about 14 hours ago via HootSuite
And a report on ALPB Forum Online is that the action to provide for the reception of the 17 pastors of Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries will be during Sunday's sessions.

That's the latest from Higgins Road. Shrimp out.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Whole lotta quaking going on

Scallop here, requesting numbers check.

Around the first of the month in February and March, reports of numbers of congregations exiting the ELCA congregation roster made their way into the blogosphere.

So far:
As of February 3, we have been advised that 220 congregations have taken votes to leave the ELCA. In 156 congregations, the first vote passed; in 64 congregations the first vote failed. 28 congregations have taken a second vote, all of which passed. (This does not mean that all 28 of these congregations have been removed from the roster because Synod Council approval is required for congregations established by the ELCA and former congregations of the Lutheran Church in America, and, in some cases, the vote is disputed because questions exist regarding the process.)

From Shrimp, Friday, Feb. 5, quoting a forwarded report attributed to ELCA Secretary Swartling.
On February 18, an ELCA news release, "ELCA Churchwide Organization Responds to Lutheran CORE Announcement," restated most of the Feb. 3 figures and added:
It also is worthy to note that 16 synods have not reported any congregations that have voted to terminate their relationship with the ELCA.
As reported in the latest (April 2010) issue of The Lutheran,
As of March 4, 62 of the ELCA's some 10,200 congregations passed a second and final vote to leave the denomination. This does not mean that all of those have been removed from the roster because synod council approval is required for congregations established by the ELCA and former congregations of the Lutheran Church in America, and, in some cases, the vote is disputed because questions exist regarding the process. The Office of the Secretary also said an additional 135 passed a first vote, while first votes in 79 congregations failed.
Well, Feb. 3, March 4, and April 5, 6, 7, 8 and now April 9? Time for another CW report? Ya think? Please? Maybe when the ELCA Church Council meets April 9-12?

"Why," one might ask?

Well, "Why NOT?" Statistics tell what anecdotes alone don't.

Pass or fail, the facts would help clear waters that get clouded by generalizations, partial reporting and prognosticating. If we were experiencing earthquakes, we'd take it for granted that such information would be readily availalbe. How much more for faithquakes?

Meanwhile, partial reports continue to filter in:

Captain Thin for ELCA Fallout,

NE Iowa Synod and Southeastern Synod which have website pages showing status of congregations that have taken votes. There might be other synods that have posted such details. Scallop apologizes for not being able to check all 65 synods.* Maybe, just maybe, the folks at TLC (the Lutheran Center) and other synods could take a que from Northeastern Iowa and Southeastern Synods and start their own stats pages.

*Feel free to post your favorite stats-link on congregational votes in reply to this post.

Scallop out.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

ELCT voices a big 'no' to same-sex marriages

Shrimp here. Our title is a headline in The Citizen of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Reporter Mkinga Mkinga begins:
The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Tanzania (ELCT) has distanced itself from the recognition of same-sex marriages by Lutheran churches in the US and Sweden.

The head of the ELCT, Bishop Alex Malasusa, said during his Easter Mass sermon at the Azania Front Church in Dar es Salaam that the local church did not support the decision because it was against God's word.

He said Lutheran churches in the US and Sweden had strayed from the Scriptures, and it was up to Africa to bring them back into line.

"ELCT has refused to recognise the decision to allow same-sex marriages because it is against the Holy Bible. It is in direct contravention of God's word, which has not changed," Bishop Malasusa said.

He added that Tanzania and Africa had taken a common stand on the issue and would not waver.
Read it all here. Tip o' the claw to TitusOneNine. Shrimp out.

The good ship ELCA...

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