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Your Turn / Re: Tax exemption
« on: November 08, 2019, 05:04:43 PM »

I do not engage in "gotcha" online casuistry with individuals who make accusing public statements against people they do not know, attempt to "get them sent to the principals office" by sending emails to their bishop, and edge toward doxxing in this forum.

If you ever have the opportunity visit our beautiful little patch of the prairie, please feel free to stop in at Zion Lutheran for coffee and conversation, or join us for worship on Sundays at 9:30.

Until then, Christ's peace.


Your Turn / Re: Tax exemption
« on: November 08, 2019, 03:17:37 PM »
No one was banned.  The Forum was offline for several days with technical problems.  See this thread:
You owe Pr. Johnson an apology, for starters.

Your Turn / Re: The Differences Between Lutherans Today
« on: November 02, 2019, 06:58:59 PM »
The candidacy process in the ELCA consists of three steps: Entrance, Endorsement, and Approval. Candidates are overseen by each synod's Candidacy Committee.

Entrance is typically completed prior to acceptance by the seminary. Candidates complete an entrance essay, background check, psychological testing, and formal interview by the committee (or by some members of the committee). The expectation is that candidates will begin the process at least a year before applying to the seminary. Some (like me) were accepted to the seminary first. This does not typically make the committee pleased ;) , and results in the seminary giving the student a one-semester grace-period to complete Entrance before registering for further classes.  An Entrance decision can be one of three options: "Entranced" (ELCA-speak for approved to begin studies), Delayed, or Denied. If denied, the process is over.

Endorsement typically occurs during fall semester of the Middler (second) year for a traditional-track student (not sure when they do it with the other options). The seminarian completes a lengthy series of essays (topics are the same for all ELCA candidates that year) and has an interview at the seminary with two members of the synod committee and their faculty advisor. It is expected (though not always required) that the candidate has completed a unit of CPE prior to endorsement. A seminarian must be endorsed before they can begin the internship year. As before, the options are: Endorsed, Delayed, or Denied.

If denied, the process is over. Some seminarians opt to switch to an MA program (if they were on an ordination track) and complete the school year. If delayed, they may have hoops to jump through (directed readings, more coursework, more CPE, you name it) before internship. In some situations, they may stay on track for an internship year with their class, in others it may be a fourth-year internship or some other arrangement.

Approval occurs during the final year of seminary. Internship evaluations are reviewed by the seminary and the committee. The candidate completes a third series of essays. They may have an interview with members of the seminary faculty (usually the advisor and one or two others). They will return to their home synod for an approval interview with the committee. The entire faculty of the seminary will vote on each candidate (at least they did at Luther), and forward that decision onto the committee, which will make the final decision: Approved for Ordination, Delayed, or Denied. As before, denied means "you're done." Usually (hopefully) it occurs before this step, but denials do happen. It's pretty brutal to see...

Approved candidates are then instructed to fill out their mobility paperwork ("Rostered Leader Profile") and geographic preference information. They may choose to:  (1) Select up to three regions and three synods per region; (2) Check the "I'll go anywhere" box; or (3) Request a restriction: "I'm only willing to serve here, and will wait until I can go here. Everything is submitted electronically to Higgins Road in preparation for the fall or spring assignment process ("The Draft"). Region announcements are made in early winter, and candidates find out which synod they're assigned to when the bishop calls.

Though the overall process is the same throughout the ELCA, there is a LOT of variation between the sixty-five synods in how they conduct the candidacy process. Some are very "hands on" and keep in touch with their candidates, require retreats, etc. Others pretty much have them do the paperwork and show up for the interviews.
Now you know more than you ever wanted to know about all of this...  :)


Your Turn / Re: Tax exemption
« on: October 12, 2019, 11:28:56 AM »
Democrats will walk back from this particular statement.
We went through this before, back in the 80s When some “moral majority”  churches were in essence supporting particular candidates, an action which did and should threaten their tax exempt status.

It's been over 24 hours so far and there has no been no walk back: not from the campaign of Robert Francis, not from the DNC, nor from any other Democratic candidate for president (nor either of my Senators or anyone in the House delegation from Massachusetts).

I don't think there will be a walk back. I think this really is their viewpoint; certainly it is that of Human Rights Campaign. In 10 years it has gone from "My gay marriage isn't hurting anyone" and "Don't believe in same sex marriage? Then don't have one." to "If you don't support this, you are a bigot. You deserve to lose your business. Your church should lose it tax exemption."

And you wonder why religious conservatives support men like Donald Trump. This is your answer.
Dreher's Law of Merited Impossibility: "That will never happen, and when it does, you bigots will deserve it."

Unless "the truth" equals complete and utter agreement with the judgment of "the elites" (for lack of a better umbrella term), it will never be accepted as "the truth." No quarter is ever given in this ongoing battle for country and culture; it's always "accept the decision of your betters or be destroyed." 


2019 ELCA Churchwide Assembly / Re: Friday morning
« on: August 09, 2019, 11:10:49 AM »
Pastor Wells referred to Model Constitution for Synods S13.24 and S13.25, which refer to synod administration of congregations.

2019 ELCA Churchwide Assembly / Re: Thursday afternoon
« on: August 09, 2019, 10:50:26 AM »
A motion to reaffirm something is out of order under Robert's Rules of Order because it leaves ambiguous the status of the original resolution if the motion to reaffirm is lost. The substitution by Reference and Counsel is a way around that problem.
Interesting! I didn't know that one--and I like to know stuff like that.  ;)
I wonder if the 1999 reaffirmation was similarly out of order.  Will have to check the website for the wording.

2019 ELCA Churchwide Assembly / Re: Thursday afternoon
« on: August 09, 2019, 12:24:52 AM »

The resolution below was on the agenda this afternoon but consideration was preempted by time and the orders of the day. Reference and Counsel seemingly deflated it with their substitute motion recommendation. It will be interesting to hear the assembly’s response—or if it gets kicked to the Church Council as unfinished business when the assembly ends.


Motion C: Resolution on Reaffirmation of ELCA Social Statement on Abortion
Submitted by: Mr. Jon E. Hale, Southern Ohio Synod, 6F

WHEREAS, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America adopted a Social Statement in 1991 in which the ELCA “...opposes ending intrauterine life when a fetus is developed enough to live outside a uterus with the aid of reasonable and necessary technology. If a pregnancy needs to be interrupted after this point, every reasonable and necessary effort should be made to support this life, unless there are lethal fetal abnormalities indicating that the prospective newborn will die very soon.”; and

WHEREAS, this 1991 Social Statement was reaffirmed in its entirety by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America 1999 Churchwide Assembly; and

WHEREAS, there has been no formal reaffirmation of either the original 1991 Social Statement on Abortion or the 1999 reaffirmation for the past 20 years by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; and

WHEREAS, at least seven states currently have no prohibition against late-term abortion, and several states are currently considering or have adopted dropping all laws prohibiting late-term abortion for any reason, up to and including during the birthing process itself; therefore, be it

RESOLVED, that the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America reaffirms the church’s commitment to and support of the 1991 Social Statement on Abortion, especially that of Section IV.B entitled “Ending a Pregnancy” as it applies to “This church opposes ending intrauterine life when a fetus is developed enough to live outside the uterus with the aid of reasonable and necessary technology. If a pregnancy needs to be interrupted after this point, every reasonable and necessary effort should be made to support this life...” and Section V.C entitled “The Regulation of Abortion,” as it applies to “... this church supports legislation that prohibits abortions that are performed after the fetus is determined to be viable, except when the mother’s life is threatened...”, and as reaffirmed by the 1999 Churchwide Assembly;

To commend the Social Statement on Abortion which was adopted by the 1991 Churchwide Assembly and reaffirmed by the 1999 Churchwide Assembly, as a resource to our pastors and members dealing with this issue;

To continue to oppose legislation that permits abortions that are performed after the fetus is determined to be viable outside the uterus; and
To oppose legislation that permits willful neglect of otherwise viable babies during delivery or post-delivery.

Recommendation of the Reference and Counsel Committee
We recommend a substitute motion to the assembly:

BE IT RESOLVED to lift up to members, congregations and ministers the value of reviewing our social statements as a resource for deepening and broadening moral deliberation in personal and public life. (The social statements and messages are found at: )
To commend the Social Statement on Abortion for reading or rereading as the debate and discussion in public intensifies. (It was adopted by the 1991 Churchwide Assembly and reaffirmed by the 1999 Churchwide Assembly as a resource to members, congregations and ministers.)

Your Turn / Re: Clergy and Honorary Doctorates
« on: July 10, 2019, 01:28:11 PM »
This discussion always reminds me of an oldie:

A young theologian named Fiddle
Had refused to accept his degree;
Said he, “‘Tis enough to be Fiddle,
Without being Fiddle, D.D.”

I’ll show myself out...  ;)

Your Turn / Re: Looming Shortage of Pastors - Worse Than We Realized?
« on: June 29, 2019, 01:27:47 PM »
I'm interested in the ELCA routes to ordination these days.  They and the offshoot bodies are facing the same circumstances as the Missouri Synod with regards to small/tiny congregations and compensational inabilities.   What are those options and how are they working?  Does anyone here know?

Dave Benke
Here in South Dakota, our Luther House of Study has developed a program called "Kairos" in conjunction with Sioux Falls Seminary (a North American Baptist-affiliated institution). Unlike TEEM, Kairos students graduate with an M.Div. degree, and the cost is significantly less. There is a high level of supervision and mentoring in the program. Core classes are taught by Lutheran theologians. Like TEEM, students serve as vicars in small (mostly rural) congregations. Students affiliate with Luther Seminary for several classes as well, as required by ELCA candidacy policy.

I was extremely skeptical about the program when I first heard about it, but I have seen firsthand how it produces good results and solid Lutheran preachers. I serve as an official mentor to one student, and another more informally. It is not perfect. Personally, I'd rather see folks be ordained instead of "appointed" as Synodically-Authorized Ministers. Educationally, and formation wise, it seems to work well, though. And it is flexible enough to make adjustments as it grows. Without Kairos, a great number of small, rural congregations would not be being served in our synod for the foreseeable future.

The cost for the program is $300/month, which is generally covered in full by the congregation or parish. That fee covers everything but books, the affiliation fee with Luther (which I think is $1000-$1500), and the tuition for the required courses at Luther. 


Your Turn / Re: May 30th Letter on abortion from Bishop Eaton
« on: May 30, 2019, 05:54:23 PM »
I’m on the listserv to receive the press releases as they come out. In this case they issued a second release with the statement “Please note a correction to the third paragraph.” No other information was given.

Original text of said paragraph, released at 10:28am:
“I commend you to study and discuss the ELCA social statement Abortion. Through this social teaching and policy statement, this church seeks to travel a moderating path by supporting abortion as a last resort for pregnancies that are unsafe or a result of rape or incest.”

Corrected text, released at 11:24am:
“I commend you to study and discuss the ELCA social statement Abortion. Through this social teaching and policy statement, this church seeks to travel a moderating path by supporting abortion as a last resort.”

(Apologies for the formatting, I’m typing on my phone.)

How does someone expressing an opinion demean a forum? Asking for a friend.  ::)

Can you point to the section(s) that give congress power to investigate the executive branch?

Article 1, Section 2, Clause 5: The House of Representatives shall choose their Speaker and other Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment.

Article 1, Section 3, Clause 6: The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present.

The right to impeach requires the ability to investigate the charges.
As I understand it, a bill of impeachment must be officially in the works (i.e. a stated goal of the subpoena) before such investigative tools have real staying power and the ability to withstand legal scrutiny. That said, I am not a constitutional lawyer, nor do I play one on TV.

"High crimes and misdemeanors" means pretty much whatever the House of Representatives says it means. If that's the road they want to take, I say have at it--that's how the system is supposed to work. As of yet, though,  they haven't. Their leadership is (wisely, in my estimation of the *nationwide* political climate) holding such efforts at bay. For how long is another question. The cultural and political diviide is widening by the day and nearing the point of no return, I fear. I fervently hope I am wrong.



Your Turn / Re: 2019 Synod Assembies: Something in the Air?
« on: May 18, 2019, 05:45:08 PM »
I'm no expert at ELCA politics, but my impression is that due to the election process, all members a synod who would possibly be eligible to be synod bishop are initially considered candidates for the position. It is during the election process that the number of candidates are reduced and one finally elected.

Is it really reasonable to say that Rev. Halaas ran for the office against the incumbent who had appointed her his assistant?

According to the Constitutions, any rostered ELCA pastor (at our last election, the ELCA rep presiding over the election at least twice specifically mentioned retired pastors as included) is eligible for election as a Synod or Presiding Bishop and can be named on the first ballot of an election, which is effectively a nominating ballot.

The, uh, identification of particular pastors as likely "candidates" or nominees before a Synod Assembly works in several different ways in the various Synods.  One extreme includes Central/Southern Illinois, where any open discussion before the Assembly is actually very strongly discouraged.*   I noticed that South Dakota and NW Minn have on their websites lists of pastors whose names have been raised as possible nominees, and they've even filled out biographies.  (From those lists it appears the current Bishops do not wish to be elected again.)  In the past I've seen synod websites also post "identified" pastors' responses to questions.

I don't know Western Iowa's practice.  I did notice that both of the final two candidates' names, the Revs. Halaas and Tesch, have been "identified" in other nearby synods.

Pax, Steven+

* This is so strong that at the last election, the incumbent Bishop was below 50% after the 4th ballot, yet all of the pastors under call one might have thought as potential candidates ahead of time had immediately withdrawn their names, leaving for the 3rd ballot the Bishop, 2 retired pastors, one chaplain old enough to retire, and two young pastors each having less than 5 years since ordination.
Here in South Dakota there is a two-term limit for the office of Bishop, so Bishop Zellmer is not eligible.  There are roughly 14 synods out of the 65 that have a two-term limit, and I think one synod has a three-term limit. An attempt was made to remove this bylaw at our 2018 synod assembly and was defeated. A similar attempt in Western North Dakota (also two-terms) was also defeated.

I believe Bishop Wohlrabe (NW MN) has stated his intention to retire.


Your Turn / Re: Inner City Mission Work
« on: May 15, 2019, 05:35:06 PM »
Wow.  There's a lot more to it than that, Peter.  If you can't pay the mortgage which was based on the high end price and you having a mid-end job and equity in a rising investment, the one thing a bank will do is foreclose on your home.  We had - and a lot of areas had, like Florida/Arizona, etc., etc. - a veritable boatload of foreclosures most of which were newer buyers who went out on the proviso that everything would turn up roses, and it didn't.  They weren't planning to move - they WERE moved, in what we call eviction.  The flaw in your ointment is "payments they can afford."  I was that guy; I could afford the payments and when the market went down I waited it out, and am at present way ahead.
I guess I'm having a hard time understanding.  If a person unwisely signed a mortgage contract they couldn't afford, and failed to make the payments they promised to pay, what should the outcome be? Similarly, if a renter, having signed a lease, quits paying the rent they promised to pay, what should the outcome be?

I'm not in any way advocating for shady or illegal, eviction/foreclosure practices, nor am I saying that we shouldn't help folks we encounter who are having difficulty finding housing, paying the mortgage or rent, etc. We most certainly should. But doesn't responsibility on the part of the lessee/mortgagee come into the equation, too?


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