Author Topic: The thread for info on churches voting to change affiliation & all follow-up.  (Read 817216 times)

James_Gale

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Re: The thread for info on churches voting to leave the ELCA & all follow-up.
« Reply #4260 on: November 19, 2010, 09:37:48 AM »
You can't have a second vote fail and then go back to just a second vote.

Why?  I read the model ELCA constitution, and I don't see how it prohibits that procedure.  If it's a matter of advisability, that I can understand.  But how is it a matter of "can't"?

Scott --

I think that the argument for "can't" is relatively strong.  Here's what I argued upstream a bit:


I agree with you that the constitution does not state expressly that a failed second vote ends the process, thereby sending a congregation back to the beginning.  But let me give you a simplified version of what seems to me to be the strongest argument from the synod's perspective that Zion's second "second vote" was not effective.

Under the process for leaving the ELCA, a congregation must vote to leave once and then be open to consultation with the synod bishop for a period of at least 90 days.  After that, if a congregation "still desires to terminate its relationship," it may do so through a successful second vote.  The word "still" from subsection (d) is critically important.  The process requires two votes because in order to leave, the congregation must "still" want to leave (as evidenced by a 2/3 vote) upon the conclusion of the consultation period.  A failed second vote shows that the congregation does not "still" wish to leave.  Thus, the process for leaving has failed.  It is done and over.  A later 2/3 vote to leave is not evidence that a congregation "still" wants to leave.  Instead, it is evidence of a renewed desire to leave.  For this reason, it cannot constitute a successful second vote.  It could, however, constitute a successful first vote.  And if after 90 days of consultation the congregation then holds a successful vote to leave, it will have shown that it "still" has the desire to leave and the process will be complete.

One could argue that any other construction would be absurd.  If Zion were right, a congregation could take second votes indefinitely until one succeeded.  It would never need to take another first vote or engage in further consultation.  That makes no sense.  

There are passable counter-arguments to all of this.  I offer this post simply to illustrate that there is strength to the ELCA position on this question.  And it is for this reason that congregations should proceed prudently when evaluating the risks associated with relying on a second "second vote."

Jim

Thanks for this, Jim.

As you mention, there are counter-arguments, perhaps the easiest being that a successful, though repeated, "second" vote indicates that the congregation "still" desires to leave.  Unless there is an explicit statement saying that the two successful votes have to be contiguous, what you have is an equally strong argument saying that it is nowhere required, and that the "still" argument, while quite clever, is a stretch as other interpretations are equally (and less complexly) available..

Frankly, having lived through many conflicts regarding contract interpretation, I think that my "still" argument would prevail in court.  I think that this is so based on the text alone.  Your proposed interpretation of "still" would fail, I think, because it renders the term a nullity.  In other words, if "still" means what you suggest, the constitutional text would mean precisely the same thing with the term "still" included as with it deleted.  Courts don't like such interpretations.  They will prefer interpretations that give meaning to all terms. 

But it's far from a slam dunk, that's for sure.  And we'll probably never get a judicial resolution to prove me right or wrong.

The nullity point is interesting -- thanks for that.  In any case, however, you could still ( ;) ) read it like I did above where what the "still" refers to is a continuing expressed desire by congregation members to leave after meeting with the bishop and waiting at least 90 days.  The "still" still has meaning in this context and is not a nullity, because it is entirely possible that after meeting with the bishop and after a 90 day period folks have changed their mind such that the desire to leave is no longer being expressed -- the congregation does not "still" want to leave.  This interpretation is buttressed by the sentence itself which reads: "If this congregation, after consultation, still desires to terminate its relationship..." where the "still" is explicitly related to the bishop's consultation.

Point being, this isn't a "can't" rubric; it is well within the realm of interpretation to say that, by way of positive argument, the constitution nowhere explicitly requires 2 contiguous votes (which is true), and, by way of response to the "still" argument, the "still" refers to an ongoing expressed desire by members of the congregation to leave after 90 days and a consultation with the bishop such that folks haven't been persuaded to remain in the ELCA (the "still" has meaning in this case and is not a nullity).

You should have been a lawyer!!!  This, for us, is what passes for fun, believe it or not.

Under your reading, "still" has meaning.  But the constitutional provision would operate in the way you propose even if the word were deleted.  It is in this sense that it is a "nullity."  It adds nothing.  And courts don't like interpretations under which terms add nothing, particularly when an alternative is available.

I'd also contest the way that you're defining "still."  The word suggests a continuously held perspective.  That continuity is broken by an unsuccessful second vote.  "Still" doesn't come and go.  It persists.

Speaking of which, with respect to this conversation, I must be still for a bit.  If I persist, it will be at the expense of other matters that are less fun but require attention.

Scott6

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Re: The thread for info on churches voting to leave the ELCA & all follow-up.
« Reply #4261 on: November 19, 2010, 09:41:33 AM »
You can't have a second vote fail and then go back to just a second vote.

Why?  I read the model ELCA constitution, and I don't see how it prohibits that procedure.  If it's a matter of advisability, that I can understand.  But how is it a matter of "can't"?

Scott --

I think that the argument for "can't" is relatively strong.  Here's what I argued upstream a bit:


I agree with you that the constitution does not state expressly that a failed second vote ends the process, thereby sending a congregation back to the beginning.  But let me give you a simplified version of what seems to me to be the strongest argument from the synod's perspective that Zion's second "second vote" was not effective.

Under the process for leaving the ELCA, a congregation must vote to leave once and then be open to consultation with the synod bishop for a period of at least 90 days.  After that, if a congregation "still desires to terminate its relationship," it may do so through a successful second vote.  The word "still" from subsection (d) is critically important.  The process requires two votes because in order to leave, the congregation must "still" want to leave (as evidenced by a 2/3 vote) upon the conclusion of the consultation period.  A failed second vote shows that the congregation does not "still" wish to leave.  Thus, the process for leaving has failed.  It is done and over.  A later 2/3 vote to leave is not evidence that a congregation "still" wants to leave.  Instead, it is evidence of a renewed desire to leave.  For this reason, it cannot constitute a successful second vote.  It could, however, constitute a successful first vote.  And if after 90 days of consultation the congregation then holds a successful vote to leave, it will have shown that it "still" has the desire to leave and the process will be complete.

One could argue that any other construction would be absurd.  If Zion were right, a congregation could take second votes indefinitely until one succeeded.  It would never need to take another first vote or engage in further consultation.  That makes no sense.  

There are passable counter-arguments to all of this.  I offer this post simply to illustrate that there is strength to the ELCA position on this question.  And it is for this reason that congregations should proceed prudently when evaluating the risks associated with relying on a second "second vote."

Jim

Thanks for this, Jim.

As you mention, there are counter-arguments, perhaps the easiest being that a successful, though repeated, "second" vote indicates that the congregation "still" desires to leave.  Unless there is an explicit statement saying that the two successful votes have to be contiguous, what you have is an equally strong argument saying that it is nowhere required, and that the "still" argument, while quite clever, is a stretch as other interpretations are equally (and less complexly) available..

Frankly, having lived through many conflicts regarding contract interpretation, I think that my "still" argument would prevail in court.  I think that this is so based on the text alone.  Your proposed interpretation of "still" would fail, I think, because it renders the term a nullity.  In other words, if "still" means what you suggest, the constitutional text would mean precisely the same thing with the term "still" included as with it deleted.  Courts don't like such interpretations.  They will prefer interpretations that give meaning to all terms. 

But it's far from a slam dunk, that's for sure.  And we'll probably never get a judicial resolution to prove me right or wrong.

The nullity point is interesting -- thanks for that.  In any case, however, you could still ( ;) ) read it like I did above where what the "still" refers to is a continuing expressed desire by congregation members to leave after meeting with the bishop and waiting at least 90 days.  The "still" still has meaning in this context and is not a nullity, because it is entirely possible that after meeting with the bishop and after a 90 day period folks have changed their mind such that the desire to leave is no longer being expressed -- the congregation does not "still" want to leave.  This interpretation is buttressed by the sentence itself which reads: "If this congregation, after consultation, still desires to terminate its relationship..." where the "still" is explicitly related to the bishop's consultation.

Point being, this isn't a "can't" rubric; it is well within the realm of interpretation to say that, by way of positive argument, the constitution nowhere explicitly requires 2 contiguous votes (which is true), and, by way of response to the "still" argument, the "still" refers to an ongoing expressed desire by members of the congregation to leave after 90 days and a consultation with the bishop such that folks haven't been persuaded to remain in the ELCA (the "still" has meaning in this case and is not a nullity).

You should have been a lawyer!!!  This, for us, is what passes for fun, believe it or not.

Under your reading, "still" has meaning.  But the constitutional provision would operate in the way you propose even if the word were deleted.  It is in this sense that it is a "nullity."  It adds nothing.  And courts don't like interpretations under which terms add nothing, particularly when an alternative is available.

I'd also contest the way that you're defining "still."  The word suggests a continuously held perspective.  That continuity is broken by an unsuccessful second vote.  "Still" doesn't come and go.  It persists.

Speaking of which, with respect to this conversation, I must be still for a bit.  If I persist, it will be at the expense of other matters that are less fun but require attention.

Cheers!  Thanks, Jim!

Mike Bennett

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Re: The thread for info on churches voting to leave the ELCA & all follow-up.
« Reply #4262 on: November 19, 2010, 10:09:23 AM »

Good articles--but I made the mistake of reading some of the comments!

It's been my unscientific but consistent experience that online comments to news reports at newspaper and similar sites are written by the lowest, most twisted and terrifying people on earth.  And it doesn't seem to matter what the quality of the newspaper is.  Scary.

Mike Bennett
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Brian Stoffregen

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Re: The thread for info on churches voting to leave the ELCA & all follow-up.
« Reply #4263 on: November 19, 2010, 12:08:44 PM »
If I understand what Brian has posted recently, John, he told us that God answered their prayers differently in 2009 than he did in 2006.

Apparently the answer in 2006 and since the beginning of time, was "No, I won't grant your petition that your homosexual pastors should be able to engage in homosexual behaviors."

In 2009 God:

(1) Changed his mind.
(2) Realized the ELCA is advanced enough now to be able to handle homosexuality.

Or some combination of/or all the above.

If I had to speculate on how God thinks -- which we are unable to fathom -- I would think (3) God realized that many homosexuals have reached a maturity level so that they are willing and able to enter into a life-long, monogamous, loving relationship. Not too different from state legislatures deciding the same thing and that these relationship should be legal -- whether as registered domestic partners or marriage -- and share the same benefits of heterosexual married couples. It's not that God changed, but that we humans finally got it. For some people, the not goodness of being alone is solved by a person of the same gender. (It isn't solved by people of any sexual orientation by one night stands. Sexual behavior is not the same thing as companionship.)

We can argue similarly that in 1970, we finally "got it" that God can and does use females as ordained ministers just as effectively as males.

Do use a biblical example, Joseph believed that the right thing to do was to quietly divorce marry [?? Mary ?] since she had become pregnant - and he wasn't the father. What he believed was right, wasn't what God wanted him to do; so God acted to change his mind. Similar Peter's belief about unclean foods and the illegality of a Jew entering the home of a Gentile was changed by God through a series of events. I don't believe that Cornelius and his household were converted as much as Peter and the Jews who were with him in that story.

Are you arguing that it is a good thing when Christians "mature" (your term) to the same degree as their surrounding political institutions of this world?

Consider that τέλειος -- used in "Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect" also carries the idea of being mature or fully grown; and how Paul uses the word:


1Cor 2:6 Yet among the mature we do speak wisdom, though it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to perish. [But we speak God’s wisdom, secret and hidden, which God decreed before the ages for our glory.]

1Cor 14:20 Brothers and sisters, do not be children in your thinking; rather, be infants in evil, but in thinking be adults.

Eph 4:13 until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ.

Phl 3:15 Let those of us who are mature be of the same mind; and if you think differently about anything, this too God will reveal to you.

Col 1:28 It is he whom we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone in all wisdom, so that we may present everyone mature in Christ.

Col 4:12 Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ Jesus, greets you. He is always wrestling in his prayers on your behalf, so that you may stand mature and fully assured in everything that God wills.

Scriptures certainly point to a difference between mature/adult believers and immature ones. Note also that the conversion of Peter in Acts 10 was for him to go against the culture of the Jews and even of Jewish Christians.
"The church … had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

John Theiss

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Re: The thread for info on churches voting to leave the ELCA & all follow-up.
« Reply #4264 on: November 19, 2010, 12:57:26 PM »
Brain, I hope you will have time to respond to my post rather that to the one by Pr. McCain.  So if I understand you correctly it is not the ELCA that "matured" but homosexuals?  And the ELCA now recognizes that homosexuals have matured and can now enter into God pleasing unions due to that new maturity?  Or did the ELCA mature to the point of realizing that homosexuals can enter into God pleasing unions?  Or were you not really speaking about maturity in response to me but to Pr. McCain?  Thus again, if you have time, could you please respond to my previous post?  Thank you.

jrubyaz

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Re: The thread for info on churches voting to leave the ELCA & all follow-up.
« Reply #4265 on: November 19, 2010, 02:06:31 PM »

With almost 16000 posts I am sure Brian has time.....   ;D ;)


Brain, I hope you will have time to respond to my post rather that to the one by Pr. McCain.  So if I understand you correctly it is not the ELCA that "matured" but homosexuals?  And the ELCA now recognizes that homosexuals have matured and can now enter into God pleasing unions due to that new maturity?  Or did the ELCA mature to the point of realizing that homosexuals can enter into God pleasing unions?  Or were you not really speaking about maturity in response to me but to Pr. McCain?  Thus again, if you have time, could you please respond to my previous post?  Thank you.

Chuck Sampson

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Re: The thread for info on churches voting to leave the ELCA & all follow-up.
« Reply #4266 on: November 19, 2010, 02:26:52 PM »

With almost 16000 posts I am sure Brian has time.....   ;D ;)




ya think?

Pilgrim

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Re: The thread for info on churches voting to leave the ELCA & all follow-up.
« Reply #4267 on: November 19, 2010, 02:46:50 PM »
Brain, I hope you will have time to respond to my post...

"Brain"? Typo or sarcasm? Inquiring minds want to know!  ;D
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Steven Tibbetts

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Re: The thread for info on churches voting to leave the ELCA & all follow-up.
« Reply #4268 on: November 19, 2010, 02:49:23 PM »

Point being, this isn't a "can't" rubric; it is well within the realm of interpretation to say that, by way of positive argument, the constitution nowhere explicitly requires...

If necessary, the legal matters of Zion, Clear Lake, her pastors, and their relationship to the ELCA will be decided in the courts -- which are extrememly reluctant to intercede in such situations and in which most precedent (witness the Episcopalians) with very few exceptions follows the interpretation offered by the denomination.  

And, if they go to the courts, whatever happens will be yet one more demonstration of the old maxim that bad cases make for bad law.

Christe eleison, Steven+
« Last Edit: November 19, 2010, 10:49:43 PM by Pastor Zip »
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Brian Stoffregen

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Re: The thread for info on churches voting to leave the ELCA & all follow-up.
« Reply #4269 on: November 19, 2010, 04:48:20 PM »
Brain, I hope you will have time to respond to my post rather that to the one by Pr. McCain.  So if I understand you correctly it is not the ELCA that "matured" but homosexuals?  And the ELCA now recognizes that homosexuals have matured and can now enter into God pleasing unions due to that new maturity?  Or did the ELCA mature to the point of realizing that homosexuals can enter into God pleasing unions?  Or were you not really speaking about maturity in response to me but to Pr. McCain?  Thus again, if you have time, could you please respond to my previous post?  Thank you.

I was responding to your post with this statement: Note also that the conversion of Peter in Acts 10 was for him to go against the culture of the Jews and even of Jewish Christians.

In at least one model of faith development, (from Will Our Children Have Faith, John Westerhoff III) concludes with a mature faith that is such a strong personal conviction that one is willing to die for it -- and that this faith only comes after a period, he calls "Searching Faith," where one questions and expresses doubts about the faith that one was handed by others. To use my terms, one has to ask, "Is this really what I believe?" before one is able to state with personal conviction, "This is what I believe." Otherwise, the faith expressed is just repeating what others have said; at the most immature level, it is like young children repeating the Lord's Prayer or a table grace without really understanding the words, but they know that they are the words they are supposed to say.

"Maturity" in faith, like maturity in life, means, being responsible for one's own faith and actions and not letting others, such as culture, peers, parents, etc., determine what one will do. The input of others is considered and can be influential, but decisions and actions stem from the mature person. Such a person takes responsibility for his or her own actions. Arguments like, "the devil made me do it" or "everybody else is doing it" or "he told me to do it" don't come from mature folks.
"The church … had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

John Theiss

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Re: The thread for info on churches voting to leave the ELCA & all follow-up.
« Reply #4270 on: November 22, 2010, 01:24:18 PM »
Sorry, "Brain" was a typo, though admitting that is not to imply "Brian, no brain"  ;)

Brian, in the case of Peter I believe that God gave a direct revelation to him.  Are you suggesting that is the case for the ELCA?  If so, would you be so kind as to share when and to whom it was given?  If not, then the example is really not relevant to the question you were trying to answer.

Thank you again for your willingness to provide an answer.

DeHall

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Re: The thread for info on churches voting to leave the ELCA & all follow-up.
« Reply #4271 on: November 22, 2010, 01:43:29 PM »
....."Maturity" in faith, like maturity in life, means, being responsible for one's own faith and actions and not letting others, such as culture, peers, parents, etc., determine what one will do. The input of others is considered and can be influential, but decisions and actions stem from the mature person. Such a person takes responsibility for his or her own actions. Arguments like, "the devil made me do it" or "everybody else is doing it" or "he told me to do it" don't come from mature folks.
:o

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: The thread for info on churches voting to leave the ELCA & all follow-up.
« Reply #4272 on: November 22, 2010, 02:05:31 PM »
Sorry, "Brain" was a typo, though admitting that is not to imply "Brian, no brain"  ;)

Brian, in the case of Peter I believe that God gave a direct revelation to him.  Are you suggesting that is the case for the ELCA?  If so, would you be so kind as to share when and to whom it was given?  If not, then the example is really not relevant to the question you were trying to answer.

Thank you again for your willingness to provide an answer.

The "revelation" if you want to use that term, came from many folks studying scriptures and concluding that it does not prohibit PALMS nor homosexuals in committed relationships to serve as ordained minister.

It came from some folks seeing homosexual pastors in committed relationships doing effective ministry with their "flock" and in their communities. Or, to use other words, they witnessed God blessing their work as pastors. That is as direct a revelation as Peter and those with him had at Cornelius's house. These uncircumcised Gentiles were doing exactly what the Jewish believers had done under the influence of the Holy Spirit.
"The church … had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

kls

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Re: The thread for info on churches voting to leave the ELCA & all follow-up.
« Reply #4273 on: November 22, 2010, 02:21:20 PM »
The "revelation" if you want to use that term, came from many folks studying scriptures and concluding that it does not prohibit PALMS nor homosexuals in committed relationships to serve as ordained minister.

It came from some folks seeing homosexual pastors in committed relationships doing effective ministry with their "flock" and in their communities. Or, to use other words, they witnessed God blessing their work as pastors. That is as direct a revelation as Peter and those with him had at Cornelius's house. These uncircumcised Gentiles were doing exactly what the Jewish believers had done under the influence of the Holy Spirit.

And from many folks deciding to NOT study many parts of scripture stating otherwise, apparently.  Just because a pastor appears to be "blessed" in their work doesn't mean God is behind it.  Itching ears being scratched has grown many a church and created many a popular pastor . . .

Pilgrim

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Re: The thread for info on churches voting to leave the ELCA & all follow-up.
« Reply #4274 on: November 22, 2010, 02:21:35 PM »
It came from some folks seeing homosexual pastors in committed relationships doing effective ministry with their "flock" and in their communities. Or, to use other words, they witnessed God blessing their work as pastors.

Tim only notes: As I recall, God also "used" Balaam's ass to do effective ministry. Hopefully this does not suggest the next arena in which the spirit will move, or we'll be getting the Theology according to PETA, with exegetical support from Brian S!  :P
Pr. Tim Christ, STS