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Topics - Marshall_Hahn

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Your Turn / NE Iowa Synod Council Resolutions
« on: November 18, 2009, 12:54:27 PM »
At the November 14 meeting of the NE Iowa synod council, two resolutions were adopted in response to the 2009 CWA.

The first one is presented below.  It passed on a vote of 10 to 5 with 1 abstention.


WHEREAS, The 2009 Churchwide Assembly of the ELCA has adopted 4 Recommendations on Ministry Policies (CA09.05.23; CA09.05.24; CA09.05.26; and CA09.05.27), and

WHEREAS, CA09.05.23 states “that in the implementation of any resolutions on ministry policies, the ELCA commit itself to bear one another’s burdens, love the neighbor, and respect the bound consciences of all”, and

WHEREAS, CA09.05.27, in the 2nd “RESOLVED” states “that this church, because of its
commitment to respect the bound consciences of all, declare its intent to allow structured flexibility in decision-making regarding the approving or disapproving in candidacy and the extending or not extending of a call to rostered service of a person who is otherwise qualified and who is living or contemplates living in a publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationship
”, and

WHEREAS, the 5th “WHEREAS” introducing CA.09.05.27 states,” other members, congregations, candidacy committees, and synods of the ELCA acknowledge those gifts and skills for ministry, but believe that this church must maintain an expectation of celibacy for any gay or lesbian person, whether or not that person is in a publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationship, and thus believe that this church cannot call or roster people in such relationships” and

WHEREAS, the use of “structured flexibility” is portrayed in the “Report and Recommendation on Ministry Policies” as presented to the Churchwide Assembly on lines 488 – 498 of the Pre-Assembly Report in the following manner: 
"To choose structured flexibility does not imply that same-gender-oriented people in publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships would be able to serve everywhere in this church.  The existing discernment processes for approval and call already assume that synods, bishops, candidacy committees, rostered leaders, and congregations will make decisions in keeping with their own conscience and convictions.  If structured flexibility were added to the process, this assumption would still protect any congregation, candidacy committee, synod, or bishop from having to violate bound conscience by approving, calling, commissioning, consecrating, or ordaining anyone in a publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationship.   Similarly, a structured flexibility process would protect the decisions of a congregation, candidacy committee, synod, or bishop who concludes that mission would be served best by approving or calling a particular candidate or rostered leader who is in a publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationship." (bold added), and

WHEREAS, it is evident from these portions of the materials adopted and presented at the 2009 Churchwide Assembly that the “all” whose “bound conscience” the actions of the assembly have committed the ELCA to honor include “synods”, and that this “bound conscience” includes the ability to choose not to approve, call, commission, consecrate, or ordain someone in a publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationship, and

WHEREAS, the “bound conscience” of the Northeastern Iowa Synod can most clearly be determined by the actions taken at synod assembly, and

WHEREAS, actions of the Northeastern Iowa Synod Assembly in 2004 (SA04.06.9), 2005 (SA05.06.38), 2007 (SA07.06.33, SA07.06.36, SA07.06.38 & SA07.06.41), and 2009 (SA09.06.15 & SA09.06.18) have declared the position of the Northeastern Iowa Synod to be that “Marriage, an institution ordained by God, is the life-long union of one man and one woman for the creation of human life and for their mutual love and care… Sexual intercourse is part of the vocation of marriage and is misused in any other context” (SA04.06.9); have opposed any changes in the church’s teaching concerning marriage and sexuality (SA04.06.9, SA09.06.15); and have opposed any changes in the ELCA’s standards for pastors and other rostered leaders as expressed in the 1990 documents “Vision and Expectations” and “Definitions and Guidelines for Discipline” (SA05.06.38, SA07.06.36, SA07.06.38, SA07.06.41 & SA09.06.18); therefore, be it

RESOLVED, that the Northeastern Iowa Synod Council, recognizing the past actions of the Northeastern Iowa Synod Assembly as evidence of the Northeastern Iowa Synod’s strongly-held views with respect to the approving, calling, commissioning, consecrating, or ordaining of one in a publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationship, determines that the standards for rostered ministry as outlined in the 1990 documents, “Vision and Expectations” and “Definitions and Guidelines for Discipline” shall remain in effect for the Northeastern Iowa Synod, and be it further

RESOLVED, that the Northeastern Iowa Synod Council encourage the Northeastern Iowa Synod Candidacy Committee and the Office of Bishop of the Northeastern Iowa Synod to continue to abide by such standards for rostered ministry in the Northeastern Iowa Synod during the period leading up to the 2010 Synod Assembly, and be it further

RESOLVED, that the Northeastern Iowa Synod Council recommends the following Continuing Resolution to the 2010 Synod Assembly of the Northeastern Iowa Synod:

S14.02 A10   In addition to the standards for ordained ministers in the current “Vision and Expectations” as adopted by the ELCA Church Council, this synod shall continue to maintain this expectation from “Vision & Expectations” (1990) in its candidacy process and in its standards for pastors and other rostered leaders:

Ordained ministers, whether married or single, are expected to uphold an understanding of marriage in their public ministry as well as in private life that is biblically informed and consistent with the teachings of this synod. The expectations of this synod regarding the sexual conduct of its ordained ministers are grounded in the understanding that human sexuality is a gift from God and that ordained ministers are to live in such a way as to honor this gift. Ordained ministers are expected to reject sexual promiscuity, the manipulation of others for purposes of sexual gratification, and all attempts of sexual seduction and sexual harassment, including taking physical or emotional advantage of others. Single ordained ministers are expected to live a chaste life. Married ordained ministers are expected to live in fidelity to their spouses, giving expression to sexual intimacy within a marriage relationship that is mutual, chaste, and faithful. Ordained ministers who are homosexual in their self-understanding are expected to abstain from homosexual sexual relationships.

Marshall Hahn

Your Turn / On to Fishers
« on: August 26, 2009, 06:45:43 PM »
Having done my share of grieving, replaying, remonstrating, decompressing, venting, "sharing", comforting, praying, and sleeping following the Churchwide Assembly of the ELCA, I am ready to begin looking forward.

So, in an effort to beat everyone else to it, I am starting this thread on the Lutheran CORE meeting coming up at Fishers, Indiana on September 25 & 26. 
Are you planning to attend?  Who will be coming with you?
What questions do you have about this meeting? 
What hopes do you have for this meeting?
What advice would you give to those who are planning it?

I realize that greater minds than mine are busy working on all of these questions, but I think it may be worthwhile getting some input from the grassroots.  Some of the ideas expressed here may prove to be valuable.  (Well, and some may not, but that can be helpful, too, to get those out of the way!)  And we will not have much time together.  It would be good to make some preliminary plans along the way, be prepared to use our time there productively.

I will start by saying that I have made plans to attend, and I will be accompanied by a young couple who have been involved in the adult study group that looked at the Task Force recommendations.  They have three grade-school children, he is on the church council, and she is the Sunday School choir director.  They represent the overwhelming majority of people in the parish I serve.  (I say this because we have had two congregational votes on these matters in the last 4 years.)  They come with a deep concern about what the church has done, and the desire to respond in some way.

I have many ideas about what I would like to see happen at Fishers, but I will let others express their thoughts first.  I will just say that, while at Minneapolis, I met many people who were looking for some way to respond in a faithful, united way to the decisions made by the ELCA.  From Wednesday afternoon on, I became more and more hopeful about what may come out of our meeting at Fishers and the long-term results of our gathering together.  What do you think?

Marshall Hahn

Your Turn / ELCA Pre-Assembly Stuff
« on: August 06, 2009, 10:18:22 PM »
I received my Pre-Assembly stuff for the ELCA Churchwide Assembly a few days ago, and began reading through it.  (I do actually try to read as much of it as I can - reports and all.  I even find the financial pages enlightening.)  I am wondering if there is any interest among the other voting members in the forum of discussing what you are finding.  With several hundred pages of material - and more to come - I would appreciate other input as to what you have found of interest and explanations to the more arcane material.  And perhaps there are some others who would be interested in what is in the materials, who knows?  Some people actually enjoy this kind of stuff - those who bring a beer and pizza to watch C-SPAN!  I will start.

One thing that jumped out at me right away was the Report of the Church Periodical - The Lutheran.  Most of these reports are pretty bland, to say the least, but this one was almost shockingly blunt.  For example, it says, "Despite the positive cash flow of the past four years, the long-term health, even survival, of The Lutheran magazine remains in question."  I recall a Forum Letter article of a few years past on the declining circulation of the Lutheran - I think it was 300,00 at that time.  The report states that it is now at 269,500, and their break-even analysis says the tipping point would be at 220,000.  Editor Lehmann (I assume he is the primary author of this report - although the Chair, Carol  A. McDivitt is also named at the end) does not pull any punches as to the travails of the magazine over the last 20 years, attributing the decline not only to demographics, and the general decline in magazine readership, but also to the reputation the magazine developed for editorial liberalism and staff elitism.  If 80% of solving a problem is being unafraid of looking at the causes honestly, there may be some hope for The Lutheran.

Anyway, that is one of the first things that caught my eye.  Any others?

Marshall Hahn

Your Turn / 50 Days of Prayer
« on: June 30, 2009, 10:11:12 AM »
In response to Bishop Hanson's call for a season of prayer leading up to the 2009 ELCA Churchwide Assembly, our parish is taking part in the "50 Days of Prayer" beginning this Monday, June 29.  I have included the resources from the ELCA website in our last two newsletters, and in addition to encouraging people to take some time each day to pray for the church, we are holding a prayer service at the church each morning at 8:00, using the order for Suffrages (Responsive Prayer I in LBW).  Following the suggestion to use the readings from the daily services to be held at the assembly, I have set up a series of daily readings to be used Monday - Saturday for the 50 Days:

Daily Readings
June 29~Joel 2:28-32
June 30~Psalm 104:1-4
July 1~Romans 8:18-27
July 2~Psalm 104:5-13
July 3~ John 20:19-23
July 4~Psalm 104:14-23

July 6~Micah 6:1-5
July 7~Psalm 104:24-30   
July 8~Micah 6:6-8   
July 9~Psalm 104:31-35
July 10~Luke 4:16-21
July 11~Psalm 15

July 13~I Corinthians 12:27-31
July 14~I Corinthians 13:1-3   
July 15~I Corinthians 13:4-7
July 16~I Corinthians 13:8-11
July 17~I Corinthians 13:12-13
July 18~Luke 9:1-6

July 20~Philippians 2:1-4
July 21~Philippians 2:5-8
July 22~Philippians 2:9-13
July 23~John 13:1-5
July 24~John 13:6-11
July 25~John 13:12-17

July 27~Leviticus 19:1-2, 9-10
July 28~Leviticus 19:1-2, 11-14
July 29~Leviticus 19:1-2, 15-16
July 30~Leviticus 19:1-2, 17-18
July 31~John 15:9-12
August 1~ John 15:13-17

August 3~Acts 2:42-47
August 4~Luke 20:45-47
August 5~Luke 21:1-4
August 6~Joshua 24:1-2, 14-15
August 7~Joshua 24:16-18
August 8~Psalm 34:15-22

August 10~Ephesians 6:10-13
August 11~Ephesians 6:14-17
August 12~Ephesians 6:18-20
August 13~John 6:56-59
August 14~John 6:60-65
August 15~John 6:66-69

Let me suggest that this thread be used to post our prayers for the assembly during these 50 days.

Gracious Father, we pray for your holy catholic Church.  Fill her with all truth and peace.  Where she is corrupt, purify her; where she is in error, direct her; where in anything she is amiss, reform her; where she is right, strengthen her; where she is in need, provide for her; where she is divided, reunite her; for the sake of Jesus Christ, your Son our Savior.  Amen.

Marshall Hahn

Your Turn / Benne's Letter on Freedom of Choice Act
« on: December 02, 2008, 02:57:41 PM »
Dr. Robert Benne, Director of the Roanoke College Center for Religion and Society, has written the following letter to ELCA Bishop Mark Hanson and VA Synod Bishop James Mauney.  He has given me permission to copy it to this forum for discussion.  I think it is worth considering as this is one of the "changes" that the new administration is likely to propose.

Thanksgiving, 2008

Bishop Mark Hanson, Presiding Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Bishop James Mauney, Bishop of the Virginia Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in   

Dear Bishop Hanson and Bishop Mauney:

I have been much disturbed in recent days about two looming possibilities:  one, that President-elect Obama and the newly elected Congress might soon pass the Freedom of Choice Act, which, as I understand it, would wipe out all the restraints on abortion that have been enacted at the federal and state levels in the last 35 years.  It would allow abortions for whomever, whenever, wherever, however, and for whatever reason.  Such legislation would permit unlimited killing, since terminating nascent human life at any stage is certainly killing.  Also, as it is currently written, the legislation would have no conscience clause.  Doctors and hospitals that have qualms about such killing would either have to perform such acts against their conscience or get out of their respective callings.  Further, public monies would be used to support abortion at home and abroad.

The second looming possibility is that, as far as I can tell, this Church, this “public church,” will likely remain silent amid the controversy that the enactment of the Freedom of Choice Act will cause.  While the ELCA in its many expressions has been a consistent advocate for the amelioration of life, it has not been a consistent advocate for the protection of nascent human life.  Why has there been near total silence during these many years since Roe vs. Wade when there could have been support for minimal restraints—parental notification, full information about the development of the fetus, abolishing “partial birth” abortion, etc.?  But, more importantly, what witness will this public church make when all those minimal restraints will likely be swept away and the doors opened for what I called “unlimited killing?”

Our social statement on abortion asserts:  “The strong Christian presumption is to preserve and protect life.”  Our Advocacy Office in Washington trumpets its motto:  “Step Forward as a Public Church that witnesses boldly to God’s love for all that God has created.”  I assume that to “preserve and protect life” includes nascent life, just as “all that God has created” certainly includes nascent life in the womb, which all of us were at one time.

The broad American public supports the restraints that have been enacted over all these years.  The Pew Forum on Religion in Public Life reports that 75% of the American public (including the non-religious) support legislation against “partial birth abortion.”  73% support parental notification.  Though a small majority continues to believe that abortion should remain legal in most cases, even that majority wants clear restraints on abortion.  If one focuses on Christians who go to church regularly, the support for restraint—and even making abortion illegal—goes up dramatically.  So, if the Freedom of Choice Act is enacted, it will trample on the values of large majorities, as well as the laws they have enacted.  There will be great social unrest, even violence.  Indeed, the culture wars will be fired up immensely.

But Christian leaders like yourselves do not look to the polls to make public arguments.  We as Christians drink from our own wells.  Those wells are deep; the early Christian churches demarcated themselves from pagan society by refusing to abort and to expose their children.  They even took in those who were cast off to die.

Christian teaching throughout the ages has been consistent in viewing nascent life as God-given and therefore sacred.  It has taken seriously Psalm 139:13—“You knit me together in my mother’s womb.”  It was only in the early 70s that the churches “lost their bearings” and plunged into support for unrestrained abortion.  I confess that I too “lost my bearings” at that time.  But most churches—including the ELCA—recovered their respect for life; I did after I saw the consequences of that Supreme Court decision in 1973.  Even so, I do not consider myself an absolutist on these matters, though I do “presume to preserve and protect life.”

Regardless what has happened in the past, I exhort you to take an active role in the defense of nascent life in what may be the most sustained and dramatic legislative assault on “what God has created” that we will see in our lifetimes.


Robert Benne
Director of the Roanoke College Center for Religion and Society

So far, Dr. Benne has not received a reply to the letter, other than an acknowledgment of its receipt.  However, he has received a response from Drew Genzler, the new director of LOGA, the Washington DC Lutheran Advocacy Office, to the effect that LOGA would not support FOCA, and that he plans to attend the "Lutherans for Life"conference this weekend and would put this issue on their agenda.  This is encouraging news.  As Benne points out in his letter, it is impossible to see how the ELCA could do anything but oppose FOCA given the "presumption to preserve and protect life" as stated in our social statement on abortion.

Marshall Hahn

Your Turn / Diocese of Pittsburgh to vote on leaving TEC
« on: November 02, 2007, 02:35:02 PM »
The Diocese of Pittsburgh is expected to vote today on whether or not to begin the process of leaving The Episcopal Church.  You can read the details here:
A couple excerpts from the article outline the debate:

"Resolution 1, which is expected to pass easily, would allow the diocese to define itself as a 'constituent member' of the Anglican Communion and disaffiliate from the American church, realigning with another province after a second vote at next year's convention."

"Resolution 2 seeks to change the language of the diocese's constitution to reflect that it 'accedes to, recognizes and adopts the Constitution and Canons of [the] Church, and acknowledges its authority accordingly.'

It is not expected to pass."

Since this is the diocese of Bishop Duncan, the leader of the "Network" bishops, what takes place in Pittsburgh will have a great deal of effect elsewhere in the TEC.  For the readers here, and, in particular, the ELCA participants, I would encourage you to join with me in praying for our full communion partners in the TEC as these events unfold.    May God guide them in the decisions they make.

Marshall Hahn

Your Turn / Response to the 2007 CWA
« on: September 14, 2007, 04:01:32 PM »
The following resolution was passed at the Northeastern Iowa Synod Council meeting on September 8 as a response to the "restraint or refrain" resolution from the 2007 CWA:


WHEREAS, the Northeastern Iowa Synod, in assembly, in June, 2007, adopted resolutions SA07.6.36; 38; & 41 expressing "its belief that it would be inappropriate to make any changes to Vision and Expectations: Ordained Ministers in the ELCA or Definitions and Guidelines for Discipline of Ordained Ministers before the ELCA has adopted a social statement on human sexuality" and memorializing the 2007 Churchwide Assembly and the ELCA Church Council to make no changes in said documents prior to the adoption of a social statement on human sexuality; and

WHEREAS, the Northeastern Iowa Synod, in assembly, in June, 2007 defeated any proposal encouraging "refraining from" or exercising "restraint in" discipline toward those who are in violation of the aforementioned documents; and

WHEREAS, the 2007 ELCA Churchwide Assembly declined to amend or to direct the ELCA Church Council to amend the aforementioned documents, and

WHEREAS, the 2007 ELCA Churchwide Assembly adopted a resolution in which it "prays, urges and encourages" church leaders to "refrain from or demonstrate restraint" in disciplining rostered persons who are in a "mutual, chaste, and faithful committed same-gender relationship", and the congregations that call them, and

WHEREAS, the procedures for discipline are established in Chapter 20 of the ELCA Constitution, which are to be carried out by the synodical and churchwide bishops, the consultation committees and discipline committees of the church in accordance with the written bylaws, policies and procedures of the church established by the ELCA Churchwide Assembly or ELCA Church Council, and

WHEREAS, none of these constitutional provisions, bylaws, policies nor procedures have been amended nor suspended by the 2007 ELCA Churchwide Assembly, nor has the ELCA Church Council been directed by the 2007 ELCA Churchwide Assembly to effect any such changes, and

WHEREAS, one of the responsibilities of the synodical bishop is to uphold and implement the constitutions, bylaws, policies and procedures in effect within the synod, and

WHEREAS, Rev. Steven Ullestad, Bishop of the Northeastern Iowa Synod, has stated, in response to the actions of the 2007 ELCA Churchwide Assembly, his commitment "to uphold the constitutions, bylaws, policies and procedures" determined by the ELCA, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, that the Synod Council of the Northeastern Iowa Synod, ELCA, commend Bishop Steven Ullestad for his stated commitment "to uphold the constitutions, bylaws, policies and procedures" determined by the ELCA, and be it further

RESOLVED, that the Synod Council of the Northeastern Iowa Synod express its own commitment to uphold the constitutions, bylaws, policies and procedures determined by the ELCA in its role with regard to the ordination, rostering, calling, and disciplining of persons to the roster of the ELCA, and be it further

RESOLVED, that the Synod Council of the Northeastern Iowa Synod direct the boards and committees of the synod, particularly the Candidacy Committee, the Consultation Committee, and the Committee on Discipline to conduct their work in a way that is sensitive to the pastoral needs of the persons involved while remaining faithful to the  constitutional provisions, bylaws, policies and procedures established by the ELCA.

Marshall Hahn

Letters to the Editors / 390,000 and Falling
« on: March 31, 2005, 02:08:12 PM »
I received my latest Forum Letter on the same day that The Lutheran came.  It was an instructive juxtaposition.  After reading the Forum Letter's review of Pr. Olin K. Sletto's "My Turn" column from the March 2005 issue in which he celebrates his "openness" in welcoming non-Christians and Christians alike to Holy Communion, I turned to the current "My Turn" column in the April issue.  (It is titled "My View" in this issue.  Has this changed, or did - heaven forbid! - Forum Letter get it wrong?)  This month we are treated to the views of Traci Anthony, a lay woman from Zion Lutheran Church in Hamilton, Ohio.  Apparently Ms. Anthony had received a revelation informing her that her judgmental position that marriage should be between a man and a woman was contrary to the love of God.  God told her so.  In a dream.  I guess that settles it.  

I realize that the disclaimer at the bottom of the column states that "these reader viewpoints do not necessarily reflect the views of The Lutheran or the positions of the ELCA," but does the word "editor" mean anything at The Lutheran?  Perhaps the column should be renamed "Heresy of the Month."  I can hardly wait to see what fun things we get to read in next month's issue.  

A little further on in the April issue, we read about the wonderful things happening at Extended Grace "faith community" in Grand Haven, Michigan.  Billy Joel CDs for gathering music, drumming circles, yoga, and so on.  There is also the transgendered member who is guest preacher on occasion.  In the section on "Creative Outreach", this is the "faith community" from among all 11,000 congregations of the ELCA that is highlighted as an example for us all.  Of course, when I saw the byline - Julie Sevig, the resident GLBT advocate at The Lutheran - it all made sense.  

The  Forum Letter also mentioned some of the problems facing Augsburg/Fortress, among which are the declining circulation figures for The Lutheran.  (390,000 and falling.)  It isn't going to get any better.  Last fall, the church council at one of the churches I serve voted to forgo the every member plan for The Lutheran and just purchase 20 copies that can be picked up in the narthex.  About 5 get picked up each month.  Ten years ago I would have objected and argued to keep sending the magazine into people's homes "as an evangelism tool."  No more.  Next month I will be bringing the current issue to council and recommending that the other church I serve forgo the every member plan and that we purchase 10 copies for each church - for now.  

Are postal rates so high that The Lutheran is doing everything it can to reduce circulation?  If so, it is working.

Marshall Hahn

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