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Messages - Brian Stoffregen

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Your Turn / Re: ELCA Membership Numbers
« on: August 04, 2006, 09:34:04 PM »
I would be more interested in a graph of worship attendance. For instance, our worship attendance has been going up, but during a couple of those years, our membership went down because we were "cleaning" the roles. Our average worship attendance is about 50% of our membership.

Your Turn / Re: ELCA Membership Numbers
« on: August 03, 2006, 05:24:28 PM »
But others tell me that in the ALC and its predecessor bodies; the philosophy was that a bunch of people in a particular locality got together, founded a church and hired a pastor, pretty much without reference to any larger body. I can see how this might engender a different ecclesiology.
In the ALC, if a congregation disbanded, they could turn the property over to any 501.C.3. organization. The district did not take possession of it.

Your Turn / Re: ELCA Membership Numbers
« on: August 03, 2006, 12:35:56 PM »
      I am not an expert on this issue...I merely am asking a couple of questions.  I have heard that ELCA property belongs to the ELCA and not the congregation.

Each congregation is a separate corporation and owns its own property. The model constitution gives congregations the following rights.

C5.03   f. acquire real and personal property by gift, devise, purchase, or other lawful means;
   g. hold title to and use its property for any and all activities consistent with its purpose;
   h. sell, mortgage, lease, transfer, or otherwise dispose of its property by any lawful means;

In regards to the disposal of property, the model constitution says the following:

*C7.01. If this congregation ceases to exist, title to undisposed property shall pass to the ______________ Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

*C7.02. If this congregation is removed from membership in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America according to its procedure for discipline, title to property shall continue to reside in this congregation.

*C7.03. If a two-thirds majority of the voting members of this congregation present at a legally called and conducted special meeting of this congregation vote to transfer to another Lutheran church body, title to property shall continue to reside in this congregation. Before this congregation takes action to transfer to another Lutheran church body, it shall consult with representatives of the ______________ Synod.

*C7.04. If a two-thirds majority of the voting members of this congregation present at a legally called and conducted special meeting of this congregation vote to become independent or relate to a non-Lutheran church body, title to property of this congregation shall continue to reside in this congregation only with the consent of the Synod Council. The Synod Council, after consultation with this congregation by the established synodical process, may give approval to the request to become independent or to relate to a non-Lutheran church body, in which case title shall remain with the majority of this congregation. If the Synod Council fails to give such approval, title shall remain with those members who desire to continue as a congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

C7.05. Notwithstanding the provisions of *C7.02. and *C.7.03. above, where this congregation has received property from the synod pursuant to a deed or other instrument containing restrictions under provision 9.71.a. of the Constitution, Bylaws, and Continuing Resolutions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, this congregation accepts such restrictions and:

a. Shall not transfer, encumber, mortgage, or in any way burden or impair any right, title, or interest in the property without prior approval of the Synod Council.

b. Shall – upon written demand by the Synod Council, pursuant to †S13.23. of the constitution of the (insert name of synod) – reconvey and transfer all right, title, and interest in the property to the synod.

The ELCA does not own church property. The synods have some say over property issues in certain cases. Basically, since the property was dedicate for use as a Lutheran Church, if the congregation votes to join another Lutheran body, they can take the property with them. If they vote to join a non-Lutheran body or become independent, then the synod gets involved. A minority of members who wish to remain Lutheran may be able to keep the property.

Your Turn / Re: ELCA Membership Numbers
« on: August 02, 2006, 08:33:02 PM »
As I recall, the congregation itself did NOT leave--which is to say, the congregation did not leave the ALC, and thus entered the ELCA.

Yup, I'm at the congregation. We're ELCA. Many still complain about the group who left. Although, just last week, there were commenting how many who left here, have also left the TAALC congregation and joined a large Nazarene Congregation.

TAALC is a fascinating assortment of congregations. This got me curious, and I browsed through the web sites of the congregations in California. One congregation with which I'm familiar is a prosperous, old old ALC congregation that pretty much has that old ALC Germanic piety (this is another congregation I got to try to dissuade from leaving--to no avail). Another in Southern California is charismatic; I was fascinated to see on their web site recognition of "two anniversaries" this year--the 85th of the congregation, and the 100th of the Azuza Street Revival, considered to be the "birth" of modern Pentecostalism and particularly of the Assemblies of God. Strange.
As I recall the origins of TAALC, I believe that it was primarily the old Germans in the ALC who formed it just before the formation of the ELCA -- in opposition to the ELCA. Old Norwegian congregations who did not want to be part of the ELCA went to the Lutheran Free denomination. Most of the congregations who withdrew from the ALC or ELCA in the earlier years, went to the AFLC rather than TAALC. This may have changed in recent years.

Your Turn / Re: ELCA Membership Numbers
« on: August 02, 2006, 04:50:18 PM »
It would be interesting to note how many of these 22 congregations left because the pastor had an agenda to leave the ELCA and how many left in spite of what the pastor might have thought.  I've said it before, and it was not popular then, but most congregations leave the ELCA because the pastor has decided to lead them out.
At the congregation I'm serving the pastor led (or was part of) a group that left in 1987 in opposition to the ELCA. The congregation became TAALC. However, the pastor soon retired and remains on the ELCA clergy roster.

Your Turn / Re: Service Book & Hymnal
« on: August 01, 2006, 11:15:33 AM »
Some years ago, as part of a congregation's anniversary celebration, we went back and used SBH for a worship service after years of using LBW. There were a lot of complaints about SBH -- mostly about how much harder it was to read than LBW. The type is smaller. The paper is darker. The print is not as clear. Many also found themselves stubling through the Apostles' Creed. They had become used to the newer version. There are many other issues related to hymnals besides just the text and music.

Your Turn / Re: Service Book & Hymnal
« on: July 28, 2006, 07:35:06 AM »
My favorites:  the Gloria in Excelsis and the alternate Agnus Dei (which came from Swedish sources)

Didn't you also come from Swedish sources?

Of course, Brian may disagree, but he did say some time ago in another thread that he viewed his own interpretation of Scripture to be superior to that of the early church fathers, the apostles, and Jesus himself.

That sounds like an interpretation of something I might have written. I can't imagine me saying anything like that. I certainly don't speak that way or consider that my interpretations are superior to others. (Of course, I think that my interpretations make more sense to me than other interpretations.)

So if somebody cruises through a stop sign, I guess I shouldn't say he broke the law; he only broke my interpretation of the law.

We agree that a stop sign means "stop". Exactly where one needs to stop can be a matter of interpretation. If I'm the second car in line and stop when the first car stopped, but then did not stop again, is that breaking the law? I saw the sign and I stopped.

How close to the crosswalk line do I need to be for it to be a valid stop? If I cross the line and then stop, should I be ticketed for an illegal stop?

So, even with something that seems as clear as a stop sign, there is still interpretation of its application. In addition, even if I have broken the law and illegally driven through a stop sign, a police officer has some discretion about whether to give me a ticket, give me a written warning, or give me a verbal warning. Some of that will be dependent upon his/her interpretation of my actions. Was I being defiant? Did I not see the sign because it was partially hidden or because I was looking down to adjust the radio. Some of that will be the context of the actions. Were there other cars on the street or was I the only moving vehicle? Were pedestrians present or no one?

If the emphasis is on the interpretation instead of the text, the actual text becomes superfluous.

Nope. Interpretation does not start with a blank sheet of paper. It starts with the biblical text. It is an interpretation of the words which we call the inspired Word of God. There is a basis for our interpretation: the words of scriptures; the meaning(s) of those words, the grammar of those words, the syntax of those words, etc.

Revisionists emphasize interpretation for two reasons. First, they can say the text says anything they want.

Not likely. Any interpretation needs to provide arguments for the interpretation. It has to start with a biblical text and take logical steps to reach the interpretive conclusion. Others may disagree with the logic and/or provide a different set of logical steps.

Secondly, the force of counter-arguments is reduced to mere opinion. God cannot express His opinion; nobody can say, "Thus says the Lord"; every disagreement can be reduced to a battle of interpretations and therefore dismissed as a mere political power-play.

A "battle of interpretations" is a battle of the logical steps to reach that interpretation. There have been people who have taken Matthew 5:29-30 literally and actually blinded themselves or cut off a hand. I remember reading about a man who had done this in the newspaper; and recently heard about another man who had taken similar drastic actions against a "sinful part". Could not someone say, "Thus says Jesus, 'If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to be thrown into hell'"? I would hope that everyone would ask, "What does Jesus mean by this?" and come to a non-literal interpretation. Scholars can and do interpret this text in different ways. There have been a couple different ways that I have interpreted this text in sermons.

A revisionist is a church of one and the author of his own holy text.

Nope. God, through the ancient human authors, is the source of our holy text. However, we are honest enough to admit that we are interpreters of that text. It is through our efforts and understanding and prayerful discernment that we seek to hear what God would say to us through the holy text. That is interpretation. It is not making up our own meanings, but listening to God through the text.

"Revisionists" are sinners like everyone else.  I have argued that they are trying to get church bodies, including the ELCA, to adopt a view of human sexuality that is manifestly contrary to God's law.

A difference I've noted between "traditionalists" and "revisionists" is that revisionists most often talk about their interpretation of God's Word. "Traditionalists" say things like "contrary to God's law," when, in fact, they are saying that it is contrary to their interpretation of God's law.

We are reading the same Bible. We both believe that it is the inspired Word of God. We come to different interpretations and application of the words.

I've been receiving and reading the Journal of Biblical Literature for years. It frequently contains essays supporting a particular interpretation of a biblical passage. In a subsequent issue, another scholar may take issue with that interpretation and argue for a different one.

For instance, in the latest edition (Spring 2006), there is a short essay responding to an article in  the Fall 2004 edition that dealt with the interpretation of Matthew 8:5-13. The earlier article, among other things, argues that pais in the text refers to "'boy-love' within a pederastic relationship." The authors argue for this interpretation over the next ten pages, with lots of footnotes. The more recent article, only 2.5 pages, argues that part of their argument, that the Roman army promoted homosexuality, has many holes in it.

So we have two different interpretations of that passage with supporting arguments. Readers are expected to weigh the arguments and determine if one is more persuasive than the other.

Thus, there is not so much a sense of a "right" interpretation in opposition to "wrong" ones, but which arguments are more persuasive at this point in time. (It's possible that another essay with better arguments and a different interpretation could be offered in the future.)

"Traditionalists," it seems to me, are more likely to say that theirs is the "right" interpretation and others are wrong. "Revisionists" are more likely to say that theirs is one of many different interpretations, but the one that they find most persuasive at the present time.

Perhaps that is why revisionists seem more comfortable with ambiguity than traditionalists.

Pete Garrison's original was "I spend my mission money on what makes a difference in my NEIGHBORHOOD."  There were no edits noted on his original post so did you change it?

I was not directly quoting Pete, but making an analogous quote. If the people in the congregations only gave money for what they personally saw as important and for what they personally benefitted from and for the needs within their own households, it is likely our congregations would fold.

I had originally written much more, but then realized, it's not really on topic, so I'll stop.

James Bischoff, San Marcos, Cal, 1999, resigned from the roster after revealing his same-sex committed relationship.

Kelly Fryer also seems to have resigned from the clergy role voluntarily and very openly, citing her inability to comply with Vision and Expectations.

I stand corrected. There have been cases of non-compliant homosexual pastors "willingly" resigning from the roster.

How "voluntary" it truly was, I don't know.  But the Pacifica Synod Bishop got his resignation without filing charges or otherwise engaging the discipline process, so by the definitions you have been asserting for the last few years, it must have been voluntary since you keep telling us Bishops have no other options.

There is this policy in our bylaws: "When there are indications that a cause for discipline may exist and before charges are made, efforts shall be made by the bishop of the synod to resolve the situation by consultation." We may not know what occurs during the consultation process. (A bishop may use a consultation or advisory panel to help in this process.)

I suspect and have said that bishops can put pressure on a pastor to resign. They can threaten to file charges if they don't resign. They can work to keep a pastor from getting another call. Bishops have some power, but they cannot unilaterally remove a pastor from the roster.

Brian, do you really think that speaking of the desire to be faithful is just spin on my part?

Are you so in love with ambiguity that you sneer at simple faith?

Yes. Your "spin" on being faithful is certainly different than the "spin" the homosexual pastors I know put on being faithful.

In fact, I don't know of anyone involved in this forum who isn't a person of faith. People on both sides are seeking to be faithful to the God who has been revealed in Jesus Christ. We have differences about what it means to live faithfully.

"Bishops showing restraint" is the way the pro-gay agenda speaks. The way our Bishop and his assistants have been talking for several years is "we hope you find a place at the table." Problem for  the rest of us is that we still go by "being faithful" and knowing that by Scripture and Confessions and tradition, not by what the spin-meisters are currently spinning.

"Being faithful" is the way the anti-gay agenda speaks. They are doing just as much "spinning" as the "showing restraint" group.

Not so, Brian.  This voting member - and those I talked with - understood Resolution 2, as amended, to be a clear endorsement of the conference of bishops' statement, as originally written, rejecting the attempt to alter to make it say something that was not originally there.

The original intent, as expressed by a couple bishop who helped create the statement, was to be ambiguous.

Wrong again.  The bishop in our synod has disciplined pastors for officiating at  same-sex unions, citing the advice given in the statement of the conference of bishops.

Other bishops have not disciplined pastors for officiating at same-sex unions and used the same statement in support of their actions. How much more ambiguous can you get? Opposite actions based on the same statement?

Your interpretation, Brian.  And you are not the Supreme Court.

Not mine, but the interpretation of the conference of bishops who created the statement.

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