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ALPB => On-line Articles => Topic started by: Richard Johnson on August 13, 2009, 10:10:50 AM

Title: A bishop "deeply disappointed"
Post by: Richard Johnson on August 13, 2009, 10:10:50 AM
[Editor's Note: Bishop Larry Wohlrabe of the ELCA's Northwest Minnesota Synod has posted some incisive reflections on the ELCA sexuality proposals on his personal blog  http://larrywohlrabe.blogspot.com (http://larrywohlrabe.blogspot.com), reprinted here with permission.]


It’s summer and the ELCA is embroiled in another extended discussion of human sexuality. We do this sort of thing at least every other year (whenever a Churchwide Assembly is scheduled), and it’s been going on for decades now. Sex must be a big deal in our church.

But no, we nervously respond, sex really isn’t that big a deal—at least it shouldn’t be. Sex and what we believe about sex “is not the gospel,” we say. It is a penultimate thing. How our church decides about issues of human sexuality should not be a church-dividing matter, we contend. In fact, if we repeat that loudly enough and often enough—“Human sexuality is not a church-dividing issue!”—we hope it may even come to pass. People will settle down, “monitor their anxieties” and stop talking about division in the church over something as secondary as sexuality. Sex isn’t really that big a deal, after all!

But it is, dear friends. And we best come clean about that.

Sex is a big deal. In the biblical narrative—the story of our salvation—sex is, at almost every turn, a big deal. It may not be the gospel, but human sexuality is forever entwined with, always bumping up against the good news of God’s extravagant love and grace, told in the story of Israel and Israel’s greatest son, Jesus, and in the ongoing life of the New Israel into which we have all been grafted. Sex is always a big deal in that story. Sex stories abound in the Bible!

Sex is intimately bound up with the good news of our creation by God. It is not just that, in the creation narratives, God’s making of the first humans is the creation of a sexually-paired duo, who are immediately commanded to “be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:28) It’s not just that we bear the image of our creator God as a complementary, male-and-female dyad (Genesis 1:27). Sex is intimately bound up with my creation and your creation. When Martin Luther defines the meaning of the First Article of the creed, he begins by saying that “I believe that God has created me….” In the wondrous love, in the amazing sexual congress between Hans and Margarethe Luther, little Martin was created by God. And we all know that to be true for our own lives—it’s as basic as that. I am here, writing these words, because my parents, Lawrence and Roberta, met, fell in love, married and conceived me.

Sexuality imbues our most startling images for God’s redemption of us and the whole human family, in Jesus Christ our Lord. Searching for the most powerful, memorable images for the relationship between God and God’s redeemed people, the apostolic writer speaks of Christ the bridegroom and his bride, the church (Ephesians 5:32). How could that image not pop up, given the Old Testament’s predilection for speaking of God’s conjugal relationship with Israel, (Isaiah 54:5) his spouse?

In the new community that Jesus Christ has created at the Cross and the Empty Tomb, the language so often chosen for our relationships with one another is grounded in our existence as sexual beings who beget and nurture sons and daughters, sisters and brothers. Such use of family-based similes and metaphors in describing the church makes us nervous, but to ignore or downplay them is to overlook much of the language of the New Testament. Sexuality is never far from the center in Christian existence.

Sex is a big deal in the ordinary lives of human beings, created, redeemed and sanctified by God. Sexuality is elemental, foundational, necessary to our existence as human beings. It’s not just that we’re “obsessed with sex” (though there is truth in that); it’s that sex is a big deal because the “complementarity” of males and females, men and women, is hard-wired into the fabric of our creation by God. Sexuality is the means by which God begets sons and daughters, heirs of the Kingdom, dwellers in the New Creation in Jesus Christ.

And, at the risk of over-simplification, most of our greatest social issues in the 21st century are rooted in sexual matters. Mountains of sociological data point to the fact that as things go in what Alan Carlson and others call the “natural family,”[1] so goes society as a whole. If we care about children, we will care about the parents who beget them and the families that nurture them—simple as that. Which means that we will care deeply about the ordering of sexual attraction between men and women, we will commend marriage to the next generation, and we will do all within our power to strengthen marriages and families.

All of us in the human community have a stake in that; but members of the Body of Christ have a particular stake in that. What we believe, say and do in the realm of human sexuality can—rather than tearing the church apart—build us up in love and make us more faithful servants in God’s mission. Heavens--how we handle the issue of human sexuality might even make us a more attractive, faithful, caring church—the kind of church people might want to join!

Sexuality may not be the gospel, but it is a big deal—and we ignore that at our peril. Sexuality is bound up with the question of the human future—the begetting and the rearing of the next generation. Sexuality furnishes the most pungent similes and metaphors in Scripture for describing the intimate, self-giving love of God for the human family. Relationships grounded in human sexuality—husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, daughters and sons—are woven throughout the biblical story. How our church, how any church, treats marriage and family life will either enhance or detract from our service in God’s mission in the world. Make no mistake: sex is a big deal!

So, I ask, how have we in the ELCA done in formulating a social statement on human sexuality? Has our great church produced a great document that does justice to the gravity and grace of human sexuality? Have we in the ELCA addressed as powerfully and as richly as possible the real social issues that arise from our life as sexually-differentiated human beings? Are we now poised to be a church that has something powerful to say to our society in the early 21st century about the wonder of human sexuality and the tremendous possibilities of well-ordered sexual lives, for the sake of our human future? Are we ready to speak confidently, compellingly to our society as a church that still believes that “the Lord God in his goodness created us male and female, and by the gift of marriage founded human community in a joy that begins now and is brought to perfection in the life to come?”[2]

Alas, as I read Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust, I cannot honestly say that we have done our best to plumb the heights and depths of human sexuality so as to say something meaningful and compelling to the society in which we live. As a colleague in ministry put it, only we Lutherans could take something as exciting as sex and write about it in such a pedestrian way.

Let me name three deep concerns that I have about Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust.

Framing the Issue. Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust, although proposed to us as a theological teaching document consistently fails to exhibit a deep engagement with and thoughtful appropriation of the Lutheran theological treasury. The rich law-gospel dialectic for which Lutherans are known is not the “operating system” in this teaching document. The document sets aside—in a footnote, no less![3]—our time-honored understanding of “orders of creation” as deep, dynamic, caring structures that God has built into the Creation to bring forth and sustain human life in all its multi-form abundance. In the place of such profound theological and ethical categories, Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust sees everything sexual through the sociological lens of “trust in relationships” or “social trust.” (The word “trust” shows up nearly two hundred times in the document!) Now, to be sure, social trust is a very good thing! Even thoughtful pagans will agree to that. But “social trust” is scarcely a suitable “lens” for a distinctively Christian or churchly word about human sexuality.

Sidestepping the Question of Form. The Western Christian tradition has consistently held that human sexuality has about it a normative shape or form. By privileging one form of sexual expression—the one-flesh bond of a man and a woman united in marriage—the tradition has ruled out every competing form of sexual expression. Although this strikes our modern sensibilities as being unfair, the heterosexual structure of human sexuality is actually a divine gift, intimately bound up with the civilizational task of bringing forth and rearing the next generation of human beings. Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust, however, sidesteps the notion that there even is a normative form of sexual expression. All that counts is the quality of sexual relationships (be they heterosexual, homosexual or whatever)—that they be loving, committed, monogamous, lifelong, etc. Driven by the desire to normalize gay and lesbian relationships, this document effectively removes our grounds for critiquing, let alone ruling out, other forms of sexual expression. Perhaps, therefore, we should not be surprised that the following words don’t show up even once in this document: bestiality, bisexual, incest, masturbation, or polygamy. (By the way, “singles” are mentioned only three times in the document!)


Downplaying the Fruitfulness of Sexuality. Although Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust speaks often of families (the word “family” shows up nearly fifty times), it says little about just how such families come into existence. An extra-terrestrial could read the section on "Marriage: Shelter and Context for Trust" (lines 607-750) and still not realize that procreation is integral to marriage. Again, the vocabulary of the document is telling: the words “conceive” and “intercourse” each show up just once, “birth” appears four times, and “mother” and “father” are each mentioned three times. It is amazing to me that a proposed social statement on sexuality can speak so often about intimacy but so seldom about generativity. What a rare opportunity we are missing to teach our young ones about the marvelous crucible for begetting and nurturing children that God graciously gives to us in the “first institution” of holy matrimony!

So, with regret, I must register my deep disappointment with this proposed social statement. Our church has invested tremendous “capital” in this project—both money and human capital—with precious little to show for our efforts. The fault here should not be laid solely at the doorstep of the task force that has drafted this document. They are good and decent people, charged with a daunting task, and asked to discharge their duties in the unsettled atmosphere of a society-wide debate over one small aspect of human sexuality, i.e. the place of persons who identify themselves as gay and lesbian within our church and our society. For far too long, our over-focus on homosexuality has been the “tail wagging the dog”—making it hard, if not impossible, for our church to address adequately the whole gamut of human sexuality.

By dwelling on peripheral matters, we have squandered the opportunity to speak compellingly to the heart of the most important issues of human sexuality in our time. We have failed to muster the maturity and thoughtfulness needed to address adequately the issue at hand. We as a Lutheran church body are capable of doing so much better than this!

[1] http://www.profam.org/THC/xthc_tnf.htm
[2] Liturgy for marriage, Lutheran Book of Worship, p. 203.
[3] Footnote 11 in Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust.
Title: Re: A bishop "deeply disappointed"
Post by: peterm on August 13, 2009, 10:34:00 AM
Thanks for sharing this.  I find it helpful because it stays out of the ditches that have dominated both sides of the discussion.
Title: Re: A bishop "deeply disappointed"
Post by: Scott6 on August 13, 2009, 10:36:04 AM
A great article and well worth wide circulation.

He is absolutely right to say that a topic as rich as human sexuality deserves a thoughtful, incisive and proclamatory treatment, just as he is correct to note that the banalities found in Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust don't rise to that level.

While he charitably and correctly acknowledges the difficult situation in which the Task Force found itself and doesn't lay the blame solely at their feet, I cannot help now but read some of the names of people on the Task Force and realize that my previous high estimation of their theological ability has been sorely damaged by their participation in creating such a weak document.
Title: Re: A bishop "deeply disappointed"
Post by: FrPeters on August 13, 2009, 10:50:47 AM
Well thought out, often eloquently framed, and serious in tone... I don't know the man from Adam but he sounds like just the kind of Bishop Lutherans need...
Title: Re: A bishop "deeply disappointed"
Post by: Marshall_Hahn on August 13, 2009, 11:24:04 AM
An excellent summary of the primary faults of the Statement on Human Sexuality:  Gift and Trust.  In light of Bishop Wohlrabe's critique, one thing that could also be mentioned is the fact that this Social Statement does not actually teach anything.  With regard to the particular issue before the church - how one ought to regard homosesxual sexual relationships - the statement comes to no conclusions.  The Task Force, in that regard, siimply did not fulfill their charge. 

Marshall Hahn
Title: Re: A bishop "deeply disappointed"
Post by: vicarbob on August 13, 2009, 11:28:13 AM
This is a much needed read. I wonder aloud the need to place, bestiality,bisexuality and masturbation,polgamy and incest in the same thought process however. But nevertheless, a most thought-filled and theologically sound sharing of a true shepherd of the Church.
pax
Bob
Title: Re: A bishop "deeply disappointed"
Post by: Scott6 on August 13, 2009, 12:49:56 PM
I wonder aloud the need to place, bestiality,bisexuality and masturbation,polgamy and incest in the same thought process however.

The reason he mentions those is, as he said, the statement "effectively removes our grounds for critiquing, let alone ruling out, other forms of sexual expression."  And that is a point I and many others have been raising for some time now.
Title: Re: A bishop "deeply disappointed"
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on August 13, 2009, 12:53:25 PM
What substitutions or amendments is the bishop proposing so that the Statement might say what he believes it should say?
Title: Re: A bishop "deeply disappointed"
Post by: janielou13 on August 13, 2009, 01:17:27 PM
Another disappointed bishop, Mark Lawrence of South Carolina, gave the following address this morning,,,  http://www.kendallharmon.net/t19/index.php/t19/article/24779/#more
Title: Re: A bishop "deeply disappointed"
Post by: peter_speckhard on August 13, 2009, 03:26:05 PM
What substitutions or amendments is the bishop proposing so that the Statement might say what he believes it should say?
I took the bishop to be calling for a wholesale rewrite with entirely different premises and taking an entirely different approach. The task force was supposed to build a car and they came up with a bird house. Substitutions and amendments will never be enough. Voting it down in its entirety is the only way forward.
Title: Re: A bishop "deeply disappointed"
Post by: Scott6 on August 13, 2009, 03:48:13 PM
What substitutions or amendments is the bishop proposing so that the Statement might say what he believes it should say?
I took the bishop to be calling for a wholesale rewrite with entirely different premises and taking an entirely different approach. The task force was supposed to build a car and they came up with a bird house. Substitutions and amendments will never be enough. Voting it down in its entirety is the only way forward.

I agree.  The document is so vapid that adopting it would be, at the least, embarrassing -- even to Lutherans of a non-ELCA stripe as it claims that what it purveys is Lutheran theology.
Title: Re: A bishop "deeply disappointed"
Post by: pastorg1@aol.com on August 13, 2009, 10:09:54 PM
Re-posted to a more appropriate thread...

Here's a bishop with a sense of "timing" for you- we just aren't listening to these ancient voices anymore:

From, "The Grace of Christ and Original Sin"- Book II. XXXV. 40.

"There is no doubt that marriage would have existed even if no sin had been committed: if for no other reason than that God created the woman to help the man, and not just another man. And the Divine Word: "Be fertile and multiply" is not at all a prevision of damnable sins, but that marriage might be fertile and produce offspring." (Translation mine, from "Saint Augustine
- Philosophie, Polemique, Catechese" Gallimard)

The problem is: concupiscence. In a footnote, the editors state: "Therefore, if God gave a gender to Adam and to his companion, it was in an analogical operatory mode of other bodily members, obeying the orders of the will... (they) were of use to our first parents as arms are to workers and would have been so subservient to the will that they could never have imposed their independent impulses."

What our recent church is in danger of teaching is that ancient temptation, "If it feels good, do it."
Title: Re: A bishop "deeply disappointed"
Post by: Lutheranistic on August 14, 2009, 08:17:35 AM
Bp. Wohlrabe was an Assistant in the SE MN Synod nearly 20 years ago when my wife was ordained and served in that Synod. I always knew him as a servant of great faithfulness and integrity. It's not surprising that he has responded in this most articulate  and considered way. He is truly a gift to the Church..
Title: Re: A bishop "deeply disappointed"
Post by: Gary Schnitkey on August 14, 2009, 04:54:04 PM
Bp. Wohlrabe is correct that the breakdown of the “natural” family is at the root of many social ills.  Seventy-five percent of the people in poverty are never wed mothers and their children.  The vast majority of individuals in prisons come from broken or never formed families.  Much of the difference in performance between African-American’s as a group and Caucasians as a group can be explained by the breakdown in the family among African-American (Don’t worry, Caucasians family breakdown is catching up to African-Americans levels). 

However, Bp Wolradge is very wrong in his diagnoses of the homosexuality issue.  The ELCA is considering the homosexual issue because it does not support the family.  The ELCA has failed to take stands against pre-marital sex, divorce, and abortion.   Nor does the ELCA provide support on other family issues.  At its heart, support of a family comes from recognition that marriage is between a man and a women, that marriage is instituted by God and should not be broken, and that sex should be confined to marriage.  Today, the ELCA could not produce a statement to this effect even if homosexuality was not on the table.

The fact that the homosexuality debate is occurring is a symptom of the root problem, not the root problem itself.  The problem is that liberalism and its lax beliefs on the need for family are pervasive in the ELCA.
Title: Re: A bishop "deeply disappointed"
Post by: G.Edward on September 20, 2009, 01:58:35 AM
What substitutions or amendments is the bishop proposing so that the Statement might say what he believes it should say?

I don't think he's saying anything about substitutions or amendments.  Maybe I'm projecting, but I think he's saying the whole statement misses the mark - which is the literal translation for the usual koine greek word for sin in the new testament.  Isn't that strange?
Title: Re: A bishop "deeply disappointed"
Post by: Charles_Austin on September 20, 2009, 08:43:20 AM
There is, I believe, no possibility for "substitutions" and "amendments" to the social statement. I do not think that has ever been done or can be done, except by a subsequent process to replace the statement.

And it might be good to look at these words, which the bishop sent to his synod (I have added an emphasis for those eager to miss the point):
"Now a pastoral word of counsel for you all:  If you are pleased by these changes in ministry policies, please be mindful of others in your circle of friendship who may not share your joy.  If you are troubled by these actions, please respond in a calm and measured manner.  Avoid hasty reactions, seek out accurate information, listen widely, pray deeply.  I am available and members of the synod staff are willing to meet with rostered leaders and congregational lay leaders, at your invitation. 

"Let us all ask God to walk with our church as we ponder and live into the implications of these actions of our Churchwide Assembly.  Although, like many of you, I was not in favor of changing our ministry policies, I am willing to abide by the decisions of the Churchwide Assembly and to continue to lead our synod forward into God’s future.   God is with us, and God will see us through this chapter in our life together."

I would say: Way to go, bishop!


Title: Re: A bishop "deeply disappointed"
Post by: jramnes on September 20, 2009, 09:18:34 AM
There is, I believe, no possibility for "substitutions" and "amendments" to the social statement. I do not think that has ever been done or can be done, except by a subsequent process to replace the statement.

And it might be good to look at these words, which the bishop sent to his synod (I have added an emphasis for those eager to miss the point):
"Now a pastoral word of counsel for you all:  If you are pleased by these changes in ministry policies, please be mindful of others in your circle of friendship who may not share your joy.  If you are troubled by these actions, please respond in a calm and measured manner.  Avoid hasty reactions, seek out accurate information, listen widely, pray deeply.  I am available and members of the synod staff are willing to meet with rostered leaders and congregational lay leaders, at your invitation. 

"Let us all ask God to walk with our church as we ponder and live into the implications of these actions of our Churchwide Assembly.  Although, like many of you, I was not in favor of changing our ministry policies, I am willing to abide by the decisions of the Churchwide Assembly and to continue to lead our synod forward into God’s future.   God is with us, and God will see us through this chapter in our life together."

I would say: Way to go, bishop!


Having attended one of the forums that the Bishop presented following the CWA, I have to say that there are a lot of members and pastors in the synod that do not agree with his willingness to abide by the decisions. Although there were people representing both views in attendance, my estimate is that the traditionalists outnumbered the revisionsists by about 3 to 1.

We will see how this plays out in the synod.
Title: Re: A bishop "deeply disappointed"
Post by: Erme Wolf on September 20, 2009, 09:43:47 AM
   Sadly, the bishops seem to be convinced that taking the line that they must work for unity above all, and abide by the decisions of the CWA even if they disagree with them on theological grounds, will best serve both the ELCA and the Church.

   If a handfull of the synod bishops would lead by saying that these decisions were in error, even if that error was only in the way in which they were made, such that now the ELCA is fragmenting with some congregations in many synods in open revolt, and that this must be addressed with something more than Band-aids and bromides, that might actually HELP this church body to deal with this mess in a healthy way. 

   I fear that will not happen.  I respect my bishop, and Bishop Wohlrabe, and appreciate the very difficult position they and most of the bishops are in.  I pray for them daily.  But they have a shrinking window of opportunity to take hold and lead. 

    And yes, whoever tries to do this will be in for a very rough time, especially from others in the conference of bishops and at churchwide.  But that is one of the reason the symbol of the office is the shepherd's crook.  The bishops are on the front line, defending the faith and teachings of the apostles handed down to them, so that the sheep don't scatter.  I keep praying that a few will decide to lead rather than manage. 

   But so far, all I'm hearing is that old song: "We're waist deep in the Big Muddy; and the big fool says to push on."
Title: Re: A bishop "deeply disappointed"
Post by: jrubyaz on September 20, 2009, 10:00:11 AM

Erma,

Great post.  What I have shared with many is that even if Bishops supported the resolutions, take a stand and lead, don't cower under the mantle of "we have to pastor everyone and can't take a stand" or "we have to remain neutral".

I have more resects for Bishops on either side of this issue who have shared where they are, rather than trying to play it down the middle. When you lead from the middle, you get squeezed from all sides.......................


   Sadly, the bishops seem to be convinced that taking the line that they must work for unity above all, and abide by the decisions of the CWA even if they disagree with them on theological grounds, will best serve both the ELCA and the Church.

   If a handfull of the synod bishops would lead by saying that these decisions were in error, even if that error was only in the way in which they were made, such that now the ELCA is fragmenting with some congregations in many synods in open revolt, and that this must be addressed with something more than Band-aids and bromides, that might actually HELP this church body to deal with this mess in a healthy way. 

   I fear that will not happen.  I respect my bishop, and Bishop Wohlrabe, and appreciate the very difficult position they and most of the bishops are in.  I pray for them daily.  But they have a shrinking window of opportunity to take hold and lead. 

    And yes, whoever tries to do this will be in for a very rough time, especially from others in the conference of bishops and at churchwide.  But that is one of the reason the symbol of the office is the shepherd's crook.  The bishops are on the front line, defending the faith and teachings of the apostles handed down to them, so that the sheep don't scatter.  I keep praying that a few will decide to lead rather than manage. 

   But so far, all I'm hearing is that old song: "We're waist deep in the Big Muddy; and the big fool says to push on."
Title: Re: A bishop "deeply disappointed"
Post by: Paul L. Knudson on September 20, 2009, 12:02:02 PM
Erma and others, I am afraid the lack of willingness of a minority of bishops to go public in their willingness to stand with us in some shape or form is showing that their window of opportunity is passing.  The messages of the bishops in lock step pushing for unity is just not helping their cause of holding this broken family together.  Even in marriage counseling it would seem there has to be willingness to face the breakdown in all its dimensions more seriously.  If there is fault on all sides, as there is, it does not help when the bishops can do no better than ask us to hang in there.  If we were hearing even six of them, one in ten, speaking up collectively acknowledging the concerns we have and promising to work with us to address these very serious problems, we might have more of us saying we better slow down and give this church some more years to alter its course.

Instead we are simply called to find unity in diversity.  If we thought the diversity was of little consequence, we would not be where we are at going to Fishers.  I respect Bishop Wohlrabe and believe what he wrote is commendable.  I am waiting for a group of our bishops to step up together and address the broad range of theological and missional concerns we are addressing.
Title: Re: A bishop "deeply disappointed"
Post by: G.Edward on September 20, 2009, 10:41:57 PM
It is deeply disappointing that no bishops seem to be willing to step forward and say publicly that the decision was wrong.  Their silence leaves traditional confessional Lutherans no option but to leave the ELCA.  The message I hear in all this is, "We don't care enough about you to respect your bound conscience.  If we ignore you long enough while we institute these changes, maybe you'll get the message and go away on your own.  Meanwhile, we don't want to push you out and loose your $$$ so we'll keep saying "peace, peace" when there is no peace."  By the time most of the ELCA figures out the emperor has no clothes the bishops who participated in this tragedy will be retired and drawing their ELCA pension for life.
Title: Re: A bishop "deeply disappointed"
Post by: Charles_Austin on September 21, 2009, 06:44:11 AM
Go to the ELCA website and read the comments of all the ELCA bishops who have posted on the subject. Let someone create a chart:
Bishops for the statement -
Bishops against the statement -
Bishops who (nuance the subject any way you wish) -
Title: Re: A bishop "deeply disappointed"
Post by: GoCubsGo on September 21, 2009, 11:13:04 AM
Go to the ELCA website and read the comments of all the ELCA bishops who have posted on the subject. Let someone create a chart:
Bishops for the statement -
Bishops against the statement -
Bishops who (nuance the subject any way you wish) -

Great idea Charles, you should do that!
Title: Re: A bishop "deeply disappointed"
Post by: Pr. Jerry Kliner on September 21, 2009, 11:40:54 AM
Go to the ELCA website and read the comments of all the ELCA bishops who have posted on the subject. Let someone create a chart:
Bishops for the statement -
Bishops against the statement -
Bishops who (nuance the subject any way you wish) -

Actually, there are a number of Bishops who have publicly declared themselves in "favor" of the Statement and implementing resolutions.  They are not secret nor subtle.  They include (just off the top of my head):
Bishop Margaret Payne, NE Synod
Bishop Robert Rimbo, Metro NY Synod
Bishop Peter Rogness, St. Paul Area Synod
Bishop Craig Johnson, Minneapolis Area Synod
Bishop Mark Holmerud, Sierra Pacific Synod
Bishop Michael Burke, SE Iowa Synod
Bishop Wayne Miller, Metro Chicago Synod

Many more of them have hade some sort of more tepid response along the lines of "Well, I'm glad we've finally done this even if I wasn't fully in favor of it..." 

Only a couple have said, mostly in private or less-than-public contexts, anything resembling: "It was a mistake, I didn't vote for it..."  This includes, to my personal knowledge:
Bishop Callon Halloway, Southern Ohio Synod
Bishop Ralph Dunkin, West Virginia-Western Maryland Synod
Bishop Kurt Kusserow, Southwestern Penn Synod

...though it is interesting to note that, to my knowledge, all three of these Bishops plan on abiding with the "ELCA"'s decisions and enforcing the revised standards.

Only one Bishop has resigned recently, Bishop Paul Stumme-Diers (Milwaukee Area Synod).  He announced his resignation just prior to the CWA, and I have wondered if he didn't see the direction things were moving and made a decision to get off the train before it left the station...  I don't know that for sure, but still I wonder...

Pr. Jerry Kliner, STS

Title: Re: A bishop "deeply disappointed"
Post by: Kurt Weinelt on September 21, 2009, 11:52:24 AM
...Only a couple have said, mostly in private or less-than-public contexts, anything resembling: "It was a mistake, I didn't vote for it..."  This includes, to my personal knowledge:
Bishop Callon Halloway, Southern Ohio Synod
Bishop Ralph Dunkin, West Virginia-Western Maryland Synod
Bishop Kurt Kusserow, Southwestern Penn Synod
...though it is interesting to note that, to my knowledge, all three of these Bishops plan on abiding with the "ELCA"'s decisions and enforcing the revised standards.....
Pr. Jerry Kliner, STS

Add Bp. Ray Tiemann, Southwestern Texas Synod to this list.
http://images.acswebnetworks.com/1/498/BishopsLetter.pdf (http://images.acswebnetworks.com/1/498/BishopsLetter.pdf)
Kurt
Title: Re: A bishop "deeply disappointed"
Post by: Charles_Austin on September 21, 2009, 12:01:02 PM
I note that Bishop Tieman wrote:
"I believe that the theological underpinnings have not yet been clearly delineated, thereby creating a stronger consensus before such a momentous decision is made."
that suggests that he believes a stronger case could be made and that his opposition was at least partially based on the fact that there is not a greater consensus.
I also note that he said he would abide by the Assembly decisions.


Title: Re: A bishop "deeply disappointed"
Post by: James_Gale on September 21, 2009, 12:19:01 PM
Go to the ELCA website and read the comments of all the ELCA bishops who have posted on the subject. Let someone create a chart:
Bishops for the statement -
Bishops against the statement -
Bishops who (nuance the subject any way you wish) -

Actually, there are a number of Bishops who have publicly declared themselves in "favor" of the Statement and implementing resolutions.  They are not secret nor subtle.  They include (just off the top of my head):
Bishop Margaret Payne, NE Synod
Bishop Robert Rimbo, Metro NY Synod
Bishop Peter Rogness, St. Paul Area Synod
Bishop Craig Johnson, Minneapolis Area Synod
Bishop Mark Holmerud, Sierra Pacific Synod
Bishop Michael Burke, SE Iowa Synod
Bishop Wayne Miller, Metro Chicago Synod

Many more of them have hade some sort of more tepid response along the lines of "Well, I'm glad we've finally done this even if I wasn't fully in favor of it..." 

Only a couple have said, mostly in private or less-than-public contexts, anything resembling: "It was a mistake, I didn't vote for it..."  This includes, to my personal knowledge:
Bishop Callon Halloway, Southern Ohio Synod
Bishop Ralph Dunkin, West Virginia-Western Maryland Synod
Bishop Kurt Kusserow, Southwestern Penn Synod

...though it is interesting to note that, to my knowledge, all three of these Bishops plan on abiding with the "ELCA"'s decisions and enforcing the revised standards.

Only one Bishop has resigned recently, Bishop Paul Stumme-Diers (Milwaukee Area Synod).  He announced his resignation just prior to the CWA, and I have wondered if he didn't see the direction things were moving and made a decision to get off the train before it left the station...  I don't know that for sure, but still I wonder...

Pr. Jerry Kliner, STS


Bishop Jerry Knoche of Maryland-Delaware is retiring effective October 31 for health reasons.
Title: Re: A bishop "deeply disappointed"
Post by: Kurt Weinelt on September 21, 2009, 12:36:58 PM
Quote
I note that Bishop Tieman wrote:
"I believe that the theological underpinnings have not yet been clearly delineated, thereby creating a stronger consensus before such a momentous decision is made."
that suggests that he believes a stronger case could be made and that his opposition was at least partially based on the fact that there is not a greater consensus.
I also note that he said he would abide by the Assembly decisions.

You are absolutely correct, and most of us outside the Austin TX area wish he had come out against those resolutions more forcefully BEFORE the CWA.  To his credit, at least he did forward the Declaration Regarding Rostered Ministry immediately after the Sept. 1 meeting to all SWT congregations.  I presented it to my congregation council, who in turn unanimously approved it and forwarded it to the congregation at a special meeting.  After that meeting, we can discard "The Issue" and can concentrate fully again on our ministry in the community.

BTW, I would not read anything into Bp. Tiemann's statement that he would not sign on to it in part because there was not a "greater consensus."  There IS however an overwhelming consensus AGAINST the resolutions in this synod (outside of a few Austin TX congregations), so that was just one argument among many he used to explain his vote.
Kurt
Title: Re: A bishop "deeply disappointed"
Post by: Ann on September 22, 2009, 04:21:09 AM
Oh, Please, don't forget our RIC pushing, nothing has really changed, b Brauer-Rieke of Oregon.  Some of his sappy comments in a letter to the congregations:
B-R's words in quotes,  some individual quotes within my own personal comments, are also set off with quotation marks.

"First of all my assurance that these decisions are not designed to coerce or require anything new or different from you or your congregation"......(REALLY !!).....
"Congregations have always had, and will continue to have, the authority to call or not call pastors as they feel led." (That is really nice, instead of the cwa saying GLBT pastors are equal to "hetero" pastors, all congregations will have to fight it out at the local level-gay or not gay...who decides, congregation, church council?  If it is such a great step forward, why allow some to opt out (or possibly only for a little while since b BR thinks it may be unworkable).

"Secondly, while the ELCA has now embarked upon a new journey we will take it step by step.  There is much work to be done before any specific new policies or practices are adopted."  (Do you mean that the cart has been purchased and now we must find a suitable horse, barn, feed, driver and put in the fencing....oh, dear, maybe we should have thought of the fencing before the cart decision?)  "Undoubtedly there will be some interim agreements while everything is sorted out, but the Oregon synod will not race ahead of the process."  (No, the cwa already took care of the racing ahead.)  "We will continue to work, pray and discern our way forward with the church as a whole." (Or, I say, whatever fragments are left of congregations.)

"Nobody knows exactly what "safety nets" might be put in place for those who are uncomfortable with these decisions, or what new requirements or privileges might be given to bishops or synods.  It is our commitment as a church, through, to work with questions of this nature."  (Well, so far, my Nephew, on the Church Council, who brought up the actions of the cwa, thinking that the congregation should be informed, has been ridiculed, scolded by the Pastor, and of course, told that it would not make any difference in our church, as we would not have to have "one" if we did not want to.  Then the sermon three days later concerned lack of love and mentioned the council meeting, also, don't let sin win.....so much for speaking out concering the changing of scripture and historic Lutheran tradition.  So much for bound conscience and respecting diversity of opinion.  Several other instances with our call committee, traditional members called "looney" and other vitrolic comments emailed to them...they are VERY polite ladies who were targeted and were certainly taken aback and very saddened by this attack .It was from a call committee member who, it turned out, has a son in a "committed relationship" and had an undisclosed interest in a "gay friendly Pastor".  Which they all had been, by the way, they were just continuing the search.  I would say that this is a foretaste of the persecution to come.  Inclusive seems to be a one way street, tolerance may be a closed street. Lots of other junk going on, none from the traditional side.  There seems to be a lot of boldness on the part of those who are going to "straighten out" any dissenting voices.  The motto must be "Agree, or we will drive you out".  It's working!

Oh, yes, I was mailed from the church office, a four page "ad type" publication from the synod office extolling the virtues of the cwa and how WONDERFUL the event was, from ten of the voting members from Oregon.  I and my grieving "bound conscience" certainly felt better after reading that..lots of unity and love and let's be in conversation etc.  We would like to say, been there, done that over and over again.  Why do they want to talk to us now and have a lot of unity?  No one seemed to care before !!  I think it was sent to me, as I had talked to our interim pastor about some of my reservations.  Got the same old crock, "It won't affect us.....etc.".
Title: Re: A bishop "deeply disappointed"
Post by: jramnes on September 22, 2009, 08:17:58 AM
Go to the ELCA website and read the comments of all the ELCA bishops who have posted on the subject. Let someone create a chart:
Bishops for the statement -
Bishops against the statement -
Bishops who (nuance the subject any way you wish) -
Why? What difference does that make?
Title: Re: A bishop "deeply disappointed"
Post by: Dadoo on September 22, 2009, 08:41:16 AM
Oh, Please, don't forget our RIC pushing, nothing has really changed, b Brauer-Rieke of Oregon.  Some of his sappy comments in a letter to the congregations:
B-R's words in quotes,  some individual quotes within my own personal comments, are also set off with quotation marks.

etc.

e to say, been there, done that over and over again.  Why do they want to talk to us now and have a lot of unity?  No one seemed to care before !!  I think it was sent to me, as I had talked to our interim pastor about some of my reservations.  Got the same old crock, "It won't affect us.....etc.".

Thank you, Ann, for this post. I continue to feel a certain sense of exasperation about CWA's decisions. There seems to have been little if any reflection prior to the assembly on the consequences by those who should have had all the answers. The bound conscience idea sounded good on paper but . . .

It is cliche to say so but there are a number of congregations out there that are very diverse as far as the thinking of their members are concerned.  Many of these have rather conservative pastors but also gay members. Go figure. I am thinking that if one holds to a Lutheran Law Gospel interpretation of life the universe and everything, then this is to be expected.

But how do you respect the conscience of that congregation? In good conscience its call committee might well want to call a pastor who is sensitive to GLBT (or is that LGBT today?) issues. THe result might however, be that they get a pastor who interprets that to mean: "They want me to make them RIC." Doing so, will obviously disrespect the conscience of a significant portion of the congregation and in the process move the proclamation from Law Gospel to inclusion/ acceptance/ endorsement.  Respect for conscience needs to be more than "we won't send the gay pastors." How will that happen. No one thought about it . . .
Title: Re: A bishop "deeply disappointed"
Post by: Charles_Austin on September 22, 2009, 09:15:40 AM
Ann writes:
Oh, Please, don't forget our RIC pushing, nothing has really changed, b Brauer-Rieke of Oregon. Some of his sappy comments in a letter to the congregations:
I comment:
No one has forced any congregation to do anything, have they? And is "sappy" a good way to refer to the comments of one of your pastors?

Ann writes (first quoting her bishop):
"Congregations have always had, and will continue to have, the authority to call or not call pastors as they feel led." (That is really nice, instead of the cwa saying GLBT pastors are equal to "hetero" pastors, all congregations will have to fight it out at the local level-gay or not gay...who decides, congregation, church council?  If it is such a great step forward, why allow some to opt out (or possibly only for a little while since b BR thinks it may be unworkable).
I point out:
Why should congregations "fight it out"? Each congregation can decide on its own, who it will call as pastor. Nothing has changed in that matter.

Ann writes:
Well, so far, my Nephew, on the Church Council, who brought up the actions of the cwa, thinking that the congregation should be informed, has been ridiculed, scolded by the Pastor, and of course, told that it would not make any difference in our church, as we would not have to have "one" if we did not want to.  Then the sermon three days later concerned lack of love and mentioned the council meeting, also, don't let sin win.....so much for speaking out concering the changing of scripture and historic Lutheran tradition. So much for bound conscience and respecting diversity of opinion.  Several other instances with our call committee, traditional members called "looney" and other vitrolic comments emailed to them...they are VERY polite ladies who were targeted and were certainly taken aback and very saddened by this attack
I note:
As has been frequently stated in these forums, second-hand and third-hand hearsay information is not always useful for discussion.

Ann writes:
Oh, yes, I was mailed from the church office, a four page "ad type" publication from the synod office extolling the virtues of the cwa and how WONDERFUL the event was, from ten of the voting members from Oregon.  I and my grieving "bound conscience" certainly felt better after reading that..lots of unity and love and let's be in conversation etc.  We would like to say, been there, done that over and over again.  Why do they want to talk to us now and have a lot of unity?  No one seemed to care before !!  I think it was sent to me, as I had talked to our interim pastor about some of my reservations.  Got the same old crock, "It won't affect us.....etc.".
I note:
You should keep talking with your pastor and not dismiss everything he or she says as the "same old crock." It might help relieve some of the anger that colors your comments.
Title: Re: A bishop "deeply disappointed"
Post by: JEdwards on September 22, 2009, 10:09:34 AM
Ann writes:
Well, so far, my Nephew, on the Church Council, who brought up the actions of the cwa, thinking that the congregation should be informed, has been ridiculed, scolded by the Pastor, and of course, told that it would not make any difference in our church, as we would not have to have "one" if we did not want to.  Then the sermon three days later concerned lack of love and mentioned the council meeting, also, don't let sin win.....so much for speaking out concering the changing of scripture and historic Lutheran tradition. So much for bound conscience and respecting diversity of opinion.  Several other instances with our call committee, traditional members called "looney" and other vitrolic comments emailed to them...they are VERY polite ladies who were targeted and were certainly taken aback and very saddened by this attack
I note:
As has been frequently stated in these forums, second-hand and third-hand hearsay information is not always useful for discussion.
Charles, there are some interesting parallels between this debate and the creationism/evolution debate, and you seem to have adopted the epistemology of the creationists.  Ann and others have advanced a thesis that can be roughly summarized as:  "Many leaders in the ELCA would ultimately like to marginalize those who oppose same-sex behavior."  Like the theory of evolution, this is a thesis that is unlikely to be verified by a single, irrefutable, "smoking gun" observation, but it synthesizes a multitude of "micro-observations" of varying degrees of reliability, and, while it does not explain every observation, no fatal contrary evidence has been identified.  It makes some general, long-range predictions that are difficult to verify within a specified time period.  Perhaps the Creation Institute would be willing to employ you to point out that no one has ever called an ape "Grandma," that thousands of observations of the development of antibiotic resistance might all be compromised by contamination of one of the petri dishes, that "some" scholars of biology have endorsed Intelligent Design, that unless you have directly verified the results of a scientific experiment, the peer-reviewed publication is only "hearsay", that the scientific community should not be so dismissive of Michael Behe, but should continue to "listen", etc.

Jon
Title: Re: A bishop "deeply disappointed"
Post by: Charles_Austin on September 22, 2009, 01:08:57 PM
I have no idea what Jon is talking about in that last post!  ???
Title: Re: A bishop "deeply disappointed"
Post by: Steven Tibbetts on September 22, 2009, 05:15:51 PM
GLBT (or is that LGBT today?)


Ladies first....
Title: Re: A bishop "deeply disappointed"
Post by: G.Edward on September 22, 2009, 09:52:24 PM
GLBT (or is that LGBT today?)


Ladies first....

That doesn't help me.  Who's the lady in the LGBT construction?
Title: Re: A bishop "deeply disappointed"
Post by: Charles_Austin on September 22, 2009, 09:59:50 PM
Gregory Davidson writes:
That doesn't help me.  Who's the lady in the LGBT construction?
I repond:
Oh, dear.
Title: Re: A bishop "deeply disappointed"
Post by: G.Edward on September 22, 2009, 10:06:34 PM
Gregory Davidson writes:
That doesn't help me.  Who's the lady in the LGBT construction?
I repond:
Oh, dear.

Exactly.  Aren't those traditional categories up for grabs as well?  Don't the changes in official church policy and teaching add to the erosion of traditional understandings of many areas in society?  When is it 'prophetic' for the church to stand against the prevailing culture and say, "No" ?
Title: Re: A bishop "deeply disappointed"
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on September 23, 2009, 02:14:34 AM
Gregory Davidson writes:
That doesn't help me.  Who's the lady in the LGBT construction?
I repond:
Oh, dear.

Exactly.  Aren't those traditional categories up for grabs as well?  Don't the changes in official church policy and teaching add to the erosion of traditional understandings of many areas in society?  When is it 'prophetic' for the church to stand against the prevailing culture and say, "No" ?
I look forward to the language of "publicly accountable, life-long, monogamous" relationships strengthening our position on what marriages should be. Too many of our folks do not consider marriages to be life-long or monogamous. I see this as a step to help us stop the erosion of the traditional understanding of marriage.
Title: Re: A bishop "deeply disappointed"
Post by: Keith Falk on September 23, 2009, 09:00:56 AM
Gregory Davidson writes:
That doesn't help me.  Who's the lady in the LGBT construction?
I repond:
Oh, dear.

Exactly.  Aren't those traditional categories up for grabs as well?  Don't the changes in official church policy and teaching add to the erosion of traditional understandings of many areas in society?  When is it 'prophetic' for the church to stand against the prevailing culture and say, "No" ?
I look forward to the language of "publicly accountable, life-long, monogamous" relationships strengthening our position on what marriages should be. Too many of our folks do not consider marriages to be life-long or monogamous. I see this as a step to help us stop the erosion of the traditional understanding of marriage.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAAAAAAAAA... thanks for the laugh on this dreary Wednesday morning