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Messages - RayToy

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Your Turn / Re: 2019 Synod Assembies: Something in the Air?
« on: June 15, 2019, 09:59:01 PM »
ELCA News reports:

Yehiel Curry elected bishop of the ELCA Metropolitan Chicago Synod

CHICAGO (June 11, 2019) The Rev. Yehiel Curry, Chicago, was elected June 8 to serve a six-year term as bishop of the Metropolitan Chicago Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). The election took place during the synod assembly, held June 7-8 at the Tinley Park (Ill.) Convention Center.

Curry was elected on the fifth ballot, with 258 votes. The Rev. Heidi Torgerson, director for mission personnel and leadership formation, ELCA Global Mission, received 226 votes.

The bishop-elect has served as pastor of Shekinah Chapel Lutheran Church in Riverdale since 2013. He served as mission developer of Shekinah from 2007 to 2012.

Curry received a Bachelor of Arts from Lewis University in Romeoville, Ill., in 1995 and a Master of Divinity from the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago in 2013. The Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago is one of seven ELCA seminaries.

He will be installed in October at a location to be determined.

The Rev. Wayne N. Miller has served as bishop since 2007 and will retire Aug. 31.

Information about the ELCA Metropolitan Chicago Synod is available at

Another one that appears to have been a pastor for less than a decade being elected as bishop?
I was just going to note the same thing. M.Div in 2013 and bishop in 2019?
Similar pattern for Lower Susquehanna Synod Bishop Dunlop--served his only parish 2005 - 2013, then won his first election.

    Well, he appears to have been the lay leader of a special population congregation and was going to seminary while leading this congregation.  Notice the different title from 2007-2012.  Still, that is only 12 years.


Your Turn / Re: Ordain Women Now's Reasoned Response
« on: July 10, 2015, 08:24:54 PM »
Since we are on the subject of Communion, does anyone besides me, remember the old WELS custom of having a congregational dismissal BEFORE the Holy Communion service began? Let me explain at little more.

Back in the mid-1980s I was living in the metro Milwaukee area and I was WELS.  Most WELS churches then had Holy Communion once a month, although there were a few that had it twice a month.  But whenever Holy Communion was celebrated, the service went like this:

General Prayer
Lord's Prayer
Dismissal of those not staying for Holy Communion
Organ Postlude (during which most of the congregation left the church and the pastor went to the door to greet them)

Then after about 10 minutes, the pastor returned to the Chancel
And the Communion Liturgy started, usually with only a handful of people left, scattered all over the church in a largely empty building.

Anyone else ever have that experience?  I don't think WELS does this anymore.

     I actually remember something similar occuring in an ALC congregation in southern California (inhabited by a large number of midwestern immigrants).  I also remember at least one person complaining about the practice (not me, I was only there during breaks in college and seminary), and that practice was gone within that period of time I was in town.


An anecdote to illustrate.

     In the state of Maryland, you can choose your electrical supplier apart from your delivery company.  Most people in my area use BGE (Baltimore Gas and Electric) as both their supplier and their delivery company.  However, other supply companies (Constellation Energy, Spark Energy, EnergyPlus, etc) have stepped up their conversion game.  I remember having a conversation with a customer service representative, and I asked him, "does your company own any power plants, and if so, where are they located?"  He then started his spiel by saying that he thought my question was motivated by a concern that I might not have continuous power coverage, and that I could be sure that I would.  I needed to interupt him a few times, finally telling him that he took one too many customer services classes on "answering the question behind the question."  I asked him if his company owned powerplants, and if so, where were they located because I wanted to know if his company ownede nay power plants, and if they did, where were they located.

     There has been a similar dynamic with the Affordable Care Act.  Opponents have offered various reasons for their opposition (overreach of the Federal government, concerns about flaws in similar systems in other countries, etc) as well as alternatives in policy (allowing insurance companies to operate across state lines, transitioning certain prescription medications to over the counter, allowing states to experiment amongst themselves).  The proponents of the ACA have not responded to these actual concerns and policy suggestions with discussions about why these assumptions and proposals are flawed. Instead the proponents have declared that the opponents of the ACA do not hold any principled objection to the ACA, but are opposed because of personal animus towards the president because he is African American.  In other words, the idea that the Federal government should have greater involvement in the healthcare delivery system in the United States is an established fact.  There is no room for debate or discussion in this idea anymore than discussing the law of gravity in everyday life. Therefore opponents are not putting forth thoughtful arguments as to why they are opposed to this policy.  They are nothing more than racists.

  Instead, oppostion must be explained in terms of pathology.  What motivates people to be opposed to the truth?  Although racism has been the established answer, Sutton proposes eschatology to be a possibility. 

    For me, I do not buy the premise that the Federal government must have a greater role in the United States healthcare delivery system to be an established fact.  Thus, I do not find Sutton's thesis to be particularly interesting or insightful. 


Your Turn / Re: Is there a doctor in the house?
« on: November 20, 2014, 10:48:26 PM »
Yahoo! Way to go, Doctor!

Actually, Pr. Weedon, to be correct given the august institution from whence the doctorate was earned, the correct response is, "Wahoo! (wa)"

With that thought in mind, Wahoowa!

College of Arts and Sciences

Or our friends the Unitarians will always accommodate but, then, thinking about it, there is any difference between them and the  wheezing, greying, and dying mainline.

the latter are Christian

Well, who's to say?  Some people in the UU Church consider themselves to be Christian.  Who are we to say they aren't?

   How about the other UUs who say they are not?  ;D

Your Turn / Re: Abortion and Politics
« on: April 06, 2014, 08:29:27 AM »
     It strikes me that this problem stems from the idea that employers are required to provide health insurance as part of an overall compensation package in the first place.  If employers were only required to pay their employees in the form of money (salary) or time (vacation and sick days), then we would not be having this conversation.

     An analogy (albeit an imperfect one) would be requiring employers to provide tobacco as part of the workers pay.  The employers may object on a number of different grounds to paying their employees in a form other than cash.  Likewise, the employees may object to being paid with something they may not use.  Furthermore, even if they decide to sell the tobacco to convert it into cash, they may have objections to that.

    In the case of the Hobby Lobby situation, I get the impression that some folks who are on the government's side of the argument are saying that Hobby Lobby wants to prohibit its emplyees from using a legal product that the employees desperately want and need.  The fact of the matter is that Hobby Lobby does not want certain services covered in its health insurance package, and it would be fair to say that a significant number of employees don't want those services covered either. 

    Are there emplyees who want these services?  Of course such people exist. But Hobby Lobby is not forcing them to sign legally binding statements that say they will refrain from using contraceptives or abortion services, and that if they are discovered doing so, they will be subject to termination.  Employees are still free to pay for these services from their own discretionary funds, just as they are free to choose their own auto insurance, or internet service, or cable TV provider.

     Furthermore, because the ACA requires that these services be provided without copays, unlike other services such as hypertension or diabetes, it seems that those who support the adminstration's position are claiming that Hobby Lobby wants to deprive their employees of this service by not providing coverage in their health plan.  Such an assertion seems to imply that not providing copay free coverage is tantamount to prohibition.  However, just because one has health insurance does not mean that the cost of medical services are completely covered.  If one accesses the health system, there are still out of pocket costs.

    Going back to the original point, it seems that this whole argument over the content of health insurance policies can be avoided by not forcing employers to compensate their employees in a form in which one or both parties object.  So we have two proposals that seek to avoid the conflict all together.

1) Remove health insurance as a form of direct compensation for employers to employees.  That way, employers don't need to examine whether or not they have moral or religious scruples over the content of the health insurance policies and employees can shop for what they want.

2) Make birth control pills over the counter.  This idea was proposed many pages ago.  This action would lower the cost for the consumer and remove the objectionable part of the health insurance coverage from the equation.

     These two proposals are a solid realistic response to the ACA.  I find it odd that those who support the ACA instead propose the idea that Hobby Lobby, Conestoga, the Catholic Church, et al should not coalesce around these ideas, but instead to just admit that they are hypocritical and wrong for wanting to force their religion down the throats of their employees and should just pay up.


Your Turn / Re: Abortion and Politics
« on: March 23, 2014, 09:24:25 AM »
Crying Wolf on Religious Liberty . . .

From the article itself:

This week, the owners of two secular, for-profit corporations will ask the Supreme Court to take a radical turn and allow them to impose their religious views on their employees by refusing to permit them contraceptive coverage as required under the Affordable Care Act.

    This opening line is problematic from the start.  These two companies are not requiring that their employees refrain from contraceptive use.  These two companies wish to pay their a employees a salary and provide them with a health plan.  The health plan they want to provide would not have certain forms of contraception as a covered benefit.  Employees would still be free to pay for contraception from their salary or from any other source of personal funds.



Your Turn / Re: Catholics and Obamacare
« on: January 31, 2014, 09:19:12 PM »
OK, jumping in here. 
      The ACA requires health insurance companies to provide contraceptive services free of charge as their default setting.  Religious institutions can exempt themselves from this requirement by filling our certain forms(Form EBSA 700, if you want to know).  However, contraceptive coverage must be provided by a third party, paid for by the insurer.  Because of the nature of contraception (it is an expected cost similar to an oil change as opposed to an unexpected cost such as an auto accident) the cost of these products are simply calculated as part of the premium.  Since the same insurance company is now in charge of paying the third party for contraceptive coverage, that cost is also passed on to the consumer.  Thus, even if the religious institution is paying less for its contraception-free coverage than its secular counterparts, it is still paying more than it would have if the contraceptive requirement was not part of every policy's coverage as a default.

     Now, it is a huge matter of debate whether it is a societal good to provide pre-paid contraceptive coverage to everybody.  Again, birth control methods are consumer products that are made in factories with real people and real machines who have real salaries and real maintenance costs.  Thus, even if the end user does not pay for these products directly, somebody somewhere must.

     Assuming that providing pre-paid birth control is such a powerful societal good that it justifies over-riding the convictions of those who do not wish to have or provide this product to their workers, there is still the question if compelling private insurance companies to provide this coverage is the best way to do so.  Afterall, we have established that the religious exemption does not actually exempt religious institutions from paying this cost but really only sets up an additional middle-man that helps to hide the transaction from institution to user.

     Given these two very big "ifs," why not go for a less invasive root?  For example, if birth control pills were to be converted to an over-the-counter medication, the cost of obtaining them would certainly drop.  It would be unnecessary to see a doctor to obtain a prescription.  Given that Tylenol is are an OTC medication (an overdose of acetaminophen is fatal), I have a difficult time believing that birth control pills are any more dangerous.

     Of course, condoms are already inexpensive.  If birth control pills were made less expensive (and they are not that costly to begin with), these two methods would represent a major cost saving to many people.  And, because this cost cutting measure does not require people with religious convictions to pay for other people's product purchasing, there is no issue of societal good (which is only assumed here for the sake of argument, and not a given) vs. religious freedom.

     But, then again, I could be wrong.


Your Turn / Re: Where are the men?
« on: January 14, 2014, 12:49:19 AM »
I think we need to get over our fear that doing things to help young men might be labeled "backlash".  If men from older generations feel guilty about the privileges they enjoyed, then they ought to repent and do whatever they think they need to do to atone.  (You can even flagellate yourself with a bull pizzle if it makes you feel better.)  Sacrificing the young men of today and of future generations in an attempt to justify ourselves or atone for our own guilt is perverse.  Young men need mentors, they need guidance, encourage, discipline and the rest.  Denying it to them will not take away our sins, nor will it help young women, who will likely be in relationships with these young men.

Yes exactly. That article I linked made the point that maybe men do need to step back, Lord knows the treatment of women at times especially in this country has been downright sinful, but at the very same time we cannot discourage positive examples of men. The regrettable reaction today is if someone tries to assert an example of "what it means to be a man," or even an example of a "good man," it is met quickly with suspicion and negativity. But society, and particularly Christians, need examples of men who are not misogynistic playboys, whether they are man boys or metrosexuals because both end up in the same place with women, but men who are simply good men (however that necessarily and contextually shakes out to be).

M. Staneck

     I must agree with this idea of helping boys being met with suspicion.  One of our congregation's long term goals is to increase participation of our youth.  I am in charge of our Easter Vigil.  Our pastor has asked that the opening part of the service be moved outdoors. To figure out the logistics, I will be working with two of our post confirmation boys, their dads,  and our Youth and Children's Director (also a man) to find out how to best complete the task given our circumstances.  When I mentioned this plan in our Worship Committee, I was immediately asked why I was not concerned about girls.  I simply replied that of course I wanted our youth to participate, but was particularly concerned with boys.  We both let the matter drop because the next obvious place to go was the gender ratio in the life of the congregation.  Although as a congregation, we are doing fairly well, I think it would have been an uphill climb for her argument-wise since I am the only man on this committee apart from the pastors.

     Personally, I think these efforts that are specically aimed towards boys are necessary.  Here's why.  When I was in kindergarten, "Free to Be" came out.  From kindergarten onward, I knew that anything a boy could do, a girl could do just as well or better.  Now , for the record, I believe that it is good for girls to develop their talents to the best of their ability.  But when looking back on that world, I can't help but suspect that some boys may have heard something unintended. I think too many boys heard that they had nothing unique to contribute because anything they could do, a girl could do just as well or better.  Therefore, wouldn't it be better to stay out of the way?  After all, it would be wrong to do something mediocre and take time and attention away from a really super talented girl. And all girls are special in their in their own way.  We learned that in school.


Your Turn / Re: Ebay vestments
« on: November 01, 2013, 03:40:09 PM »

      FWIW, all four of my deacon stoles were purchased on ebay.  ....


Ray.  What is OSSD?

Peace, JOHN

I'm not Ray, but it's The Order of St. Stephen, Deacon.  Here's their website:

It's affiliated with an ELCA church, Peace Lutheran Church in  Glen Burnie, MD.

    Well, the current Archdeacon is affiliated with Peace, Glen Burnie, but the Order is not limited to that congregation.  I am in a unique situation in that I am a member of Salem, Catonsville but my call is to the Community of St. Dysmas, a congregation with four locations within in the Maryland Prison system.  My task within CSD is to go to Episcopal congregations and tell them and their pastors that we exist and we could use help.  In the thirty year history of CSD, nobody has ever thought of doing that before, so both the pastor and planning committee figured it was worth a try.


Your Turn / Re: Ebay vestments
« on: October 31, 2013, 10:22:48 PM »

      FWIW, all four of my deacon stoles were purchased on ebay.  My green one was an Autom product that may have come from the factory, or may have been re-purchased as distressed stock (not that you could tell) that cost $16 including shipping.  I believe my white one had a similar background, and I got that for $12 including shipping.  My purple one, I believe, was home crafted and sold for a little less than $25 including shipping.  Finally, my red one was bought from Poland for a little over $40 including shipping.  In a sign that seemed oddly appropriate, the thread that held the stole together snapped during my setting apart ceremony.

     Anyway, I still need to pick up a blue stole and a gold stole.  If ebay has a blue one that I like, I would probably snap it up for the right price.  I see one for sale on Amazon, but I am guessing that the $1000 price tag is a misprint.  I may need to buy one from, which has one that I like for about $58 including shipping.  As for the gold one, I will think about that one when Easter gets closer.


Your Turn / Re: Ordained Diaconate?
« on: May 27, 2013, 09:49:22 PM »
"Rostered," Pastor Austin.  :) In MNYS and several synods throughout the ELCA (Florida Bahamas, for example), there is a setting apart and deacons are then put onto the roster.  I do think that even more could be done with an ordained diaconate than our rostering process.   As the new bishop of the F-B synod stated of the three-fold ministry:  Word and Sacrament/Word and Service.  It gives a credibility in the secular world and allows in the church that people have been called to different ministries....not "better than"...not "a higher calling"...just different. 

      To throw a monkey wrench into the conversation, recognition does not imply rostering.  In the Delaware-Maryland Synod, there is a motion afoot to recognize the Order of St. Stephen Deacon as a Synodically recognized organization, but the only roster is within the OSSD.  Individual deacons may be rostered as AIMs or diaconal ministers, but the OSSD roster (as best as I know) will not become a synodical roster (I think :o).

(Scheduled to be set apart this Saturday)

Your Turn / Re: Bishops Are Worthy of Double Honor!
« on: November 30, 2012, 01:24:44 AM »

     OK, there is something about this thread that troubles me in spite of the fact that I am not a member of the Missouri Synod, nor do I play one on TV.  It seems to me that there are a whole bunch of issues that may or may not be resolved which is fueling the question of "swanky resorts" (what ever that may be).

1) There seems to be at least one or two commissions or groupings of people that are meeting under the auspices of the Synod.  As with any human institution, one question is "are these groups still useful, or have they outlived their usefullness?"  If one really thinks that these groups no longer have a purpose, I can see why one might object to large amounts of money being spent on them.

2) Assuming these groups do serve a purpose, one might wonder if live meetings are necessary given new technologies of conference calls, Skype, live streaming, and so on.  If this is the underlying issue, then the idea of using the phrase "swanky resorts" strikes me as unnecessarily provocative and takes away from the issue of the costs of any kind of travel and/or lodging.

3) If these groups are of a nature that live meetings are necessary, then would it be possible to have these meetings in a local congregation somewhere?  Let me repeat that I have no idea of how big or small these groups are.  If the groups are sizeable, I can see the possiblility of few, if any congregations having the kind of facilities necessary for such a meeting.

4) Could these meetings be held at one of the colleges or seminaries?  Again, I have no idea how big or small these groups are.  Given that these institutions have students, I could see logistical problems with room space as an issue.

5) Given the business nature of these meetings as well as the national scope of the group membership, it seems to me that if we have gotten this far in our issue tree, then the most logical place to hold such a gathering would be in a large hotel that has the kind of facilities necessary to conduct business.  Such a large hotel could be characterized as a "swanky resort."  If the objection to a "swanky resort" is made at this point, then I suspect that the real objection is either at #1 or #2.

6) The location of the large hotel is the last part of the issue tree.  It seems to me  that the choices are either St. Louis (because of so much of the Synod's "brand" being located there) or somewhere other than St. Louis.  Reasons for "other" could include a desire to move the meeting around to reflect the national membership and/or cost.  At any rate, it seems to me that if there was  a list of criteria for facilities to meet, and the place that fit all the requirements came in at the lowest price, then I see no problem.  All along the issue tree, there were places to hold differing reasonable positions.  If we have come this far, then I believe that the argument that "swanky resorts need to avoided" needs to be accompanied by an assertion that "this meeting should be held at X instead."

      It's late at night, and I have no idea if anything I wrote made any sense, but I felt I needed to write this.   Now back to lurking.


<lurk mode on>

Your Turn / Re: General election/debates/politics thread
« on: October 06, 2012, 11:22:16 AM »
. . . Obama was advertising himself as born in Africa in publications up until just prior to his run for president. This was not others making the claim about it, it was him putting his own bio out there and making a point of being foreign-born.

I haven't read his books. Do you have a citation? Or did he claim it elsewhere, e.g., on his applications to college or law school, or application for a passport? Maybe on his early campaign literature from when he ran for the Illinois state senate. This is a new one on me, that he personally claimed he was born in Africa--not just someone else saying he was. Help me out.


     Here is the link to an ABC news story that was done in May.


Your Turn / ELCA Candidacy Question
« on: May 10, 2012, 11:56:12 PM »
   I have some questions regarding candidacy.  In these two examples, I am curious if there is a single policy, or if the situation depends on the Synod.

Situation A

     A candidate for ministry decides not to pursue a call for ordained ministry at the time he graduated from an ELCA seminary with an M. Div.  Several years later, he decides to pursue parish ministry and goes to his candidacy committee.  What happens?  (Choose as many as needed.)

a) He enrolls in an STM program
b) He does another unit of CPE
c) He does another parish internship
d) He does an additional year of study at a seminary.
e) He enrolls in classes for a second M. Div.

Situation B

      A candidate for ordained ministry decides not to pursue ordained ministry after graduating from an ELCA seminary with an M. Div.   Several years later, she decides that she wants to become a deaconess.  What happens? 

a) She enrolls in an STM program.
b) She returns to seminary for an MAR degree.  Although she has taken most, if not all the classes, she takes them again for the second degree.
c) She does another unit of CPE
d) She does an internship with the Deaconess Community.
e) other

       I really am curious to know what happens.


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