Author Topic: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation  (Read 96506 times)

DCharlton

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Re: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation
« Reply #180 on: December 30, 2011, 06:29:35 PM »
The last page brings to mind the theological double speak that frustrates many of us who remain in the ELCA:

A.  We are told that anyone who leaves the ELCA over issues of sexuality is denying the unity we have in Christ.  Here both the images of the Body of Christ and the Family of God are employed.

B.  ELCA leaders then demand strict adherence to the interpretations of the current Secretary of the ELCA as the measure of good standing in the ELCA.  These make dual association with other members of the Family of God cause for discipline.

A.  To support the Family Imagery employed by those who argue for unity, we are told that, since we all pray the Our Father, we ought to be able to live as family.

B.  Prominent congregations within the ELCA refuse to pray the Our Father with impunity.

A.  Those who leave the ELCA are called schismatic.

B.  Those who refuse to pray the Our Father are considered members in good standing of the ELCA.

In summary:

In spite of criticizing those who consider matters pertaining to the Left Hand Realm to be church dividing, the ELCA consistently disciplines rostered leaders and pastors for failure to abide by its policies, which pertain to the Left Hand Realm.*  It consistently refuses to discipline rostered leaders and congregations over matters pertaining to the Right Hand Realm. 

*I am not claiming that the ELCA is wrong in doing this, but only that its actions contradict its condemnation of others for allowing temporal matters to be church dividing.  In other words, its hypocritcal to condemn those who left the ELCA over temporal matters, while it disciplines others over temporal matters.

« Last Edit: December 30, 2011, 06:46:54 PM by DCharlton »
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Dadoo

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Re: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation
« Reply #181 on: December 30, 2011, 06:33:07 PM »
I have been on leave from call on three occasions. At no time, dealing with three different synods for supply preaching and interim ministries, did anyone ever suggest that I was anything but a full member of the ELCA clergy roster.
At no time did anyone suggest that I could not preach or preside. As a matter of fact, I was sought out to do so.
Someone will have to show me where anything says a pastor on leave from call is not allowed to perform pastoral duties.

Charles,

You are certainly allowed to perform pastoral duties while on leave from call. But, you have to be specifically invited to perform them by a proper authority, be that a congregational council, bishop, or a fellow pastor according to S14.14.

And you are a full member of the clergy roster while on leave though the constitution does stipulate that your vote at synod is dependent on you being under call according to S7.21a. So, on leave from call pastors are not allowed to vote according to the latest ELCA model constitution for Synods unless your synod made use of S7.22 to give them vote. That also applies to retired pastors for whom the synod must make intentional provision. In many synods that means a waiting list is formed to make sure the 60 - 40 lay - clergy or 50 - 50 male - female ratios are not violated by the presence of too many retired or on leave pastors.

Now see what I did:

I used a document called the constitution written as an earthly document by mere humans who wrote governing documents. It describes ELCA. Praying to God the Father is part of it in its opening articles but it does not exhaust the scope of the constitution. And also note that without it, the matter of your call or your standing as a minister of word and sacrament, or the existence of that office would be undefined. There is something transcendent but also something very earthly about ELCA.

In the case at hand the earthly is the issue. Just so that we can get back to Eau Claire: What would you, Charles, say to the pastors and council of Grace Lutheran Eau Claire, to convince them that they should stay ELCA?
« Last Edit: December 30, 2011, 07:15:20 PM by Dadoo »
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Mel Harris

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Re: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation
« Reply #182 on: December 30, 2011, 11:59:03 PM »

Someone will have to show me where anything says a pastor on leave from call is not allowed to perform pastoral duties.


Since others have pointed to a required provision in ELCA synod constitutions, this someone will point to the Augsburg Confession.

Quote

Article XIV
Of Ecclesiastical Order


Of Ecclesiastical Order they teach that no one should publicly teach in the Church or administer the Sacraments unless he be regularly called.


Mel Harris

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Re: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation
« Reply #183 on: December 31, 2011, 12:27:26 AM »

Someone will have to show me where anything says a pastor on leave from call is not allowed to perform pastoral duties.


Since others have pointed to a required provision in ELCA synod constitutions, this someone will point to the Augsburg Confession.

Quote

Article XIV
Of Ecclesiastical Order


Of Ecclesiastical Order they teach that no one should publicly teach in the Church or administer the Sacraments unless he be regularly called.


Mel Harris

Mel, that is confusing. It was my understanding that a pastor is ordained by a denomination, but he is ordained into the ministry of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. Other denominations can (and do) make up their own rules about whether or not he can be called to one of their congregations, but if a pastor wants to transfer his affiliation between two Lutheran denominations, the one he's moving will examine him and accept or reject him, but they won't re-ordain him.
 
So, which call is the "regular" call, the call that comes from God and starts the process towards ordination, that only happens once, or the call that comes through the call committee of a congregation to come and be the parish pastor of a congregation, a call which might be repeated several times during a pastor's vocational career? And what about if a pastor is "called" to serve as a hospital chaplain, or an instructor at a seminary, or an administrator of a church organization? Are those calls real calls? Does a pastor who takes such a call remain a pastor? Can such a pastor accept pulpit supply calls? 

Terry W Culler

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Re: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation
« Reply #184 on: December 31, 2011, 08:48:12 AM »
This is a question about which Lutherans disagree.  As I understand the LCMS argument, this statement means that there can be no such thing as an interim pastor, because such is not a regular call.  I can't speak for WELS or ELS, but they might have the same understanding.  Many of us, however, believe an interim call is well within the leeway allowed to a congregation, ie. they can call someone for a period.  Personally, I think this can be read and treated both ways and therefore we ought not fight about it.  The question of chaplaincy is easily solved by simply having a congregation call a chaplain and then charge him with that task.  He is properly called and properly tasked.
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Re: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation
« Reply #185 on: December 31, 2011, 09:46:58 AM »
There is the "call" which is spiritual and to some extent personal. There is the "call" that is endorsed by the church leading to ordination. There is the "call" that is the agreement to serve in a particular ministry. This third "call" is mediated and supervised by one of those pesky human things we call a church or a denomination or a synod. And it is dependent upon some more pesky human things such as constitutions and regulations and protocols.
In ELCA, being rostered, means you can preach and preside. How and when you do that is mediated elswhere.
 

DCharlton

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Re: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation
« Reply #186 on: December 31, 2011, 11:14:20 AM »
There is the "call" which is spiritual and to some extent personal. There is the "call" that is endorsed by the church leading to ordination. There is the "call" that is the agreement to serve in a particular ministry. This third "call" is mediated and supervised by one of those pesky human things we call a church or a denomination or a synod. And it is dependent upon some more pesky human things such as constitutions and regulations and protocols.
In ELCA, being rostered, means you can preach and preside. How and when you do that is mediated elswhere.

Then we can conclude, can't we, that unity in the ELCA requires agreement on more than "the Gospel" however that is defined.  Agreement on Left Hand matters is also necessary.  Unity in the Family of God may not be sufficient to maintain one's place on the roster of the ELCA.  That's not news to most of who were ordained in the ELCA (or in other church bodies I assume). 

The thing is, I am not aware of any on the traditionalist side who argued that it wasn't the case.  As I recall, it was the Presiding Bishop and others who in the aftermath of CWA 2009 chided traditionalists for allowing matters of the Left Hand Realm to divide the ELCA.  It is primarily the pro-HSGT partisans who insist that things like policy and guidlines for rostered leaders ought not be considered a big deal.
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Re: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation
« Reply #187 on: December 31, 2011, 11:24:52 AM »
This is a question about which Lutherans disagree.  As I understand the LCMS argument, this statement means that there can be no such thing as an interim pastor, because such is not a regular call.  I can't speak for WELS or ELS, but they might have the same understanding.  Many of us, however, believe an interim call is well within the leeway allowed to a congregation, ie. they can call someone for a period.  Personally, I think this can be read and treated both ways and therefore we ought not fight about it.  The question of chaplaincy is easily solved by simply having a congregation call a chaplain and then charge him with that task.  He is properly called and properly tasked.

If that's the case, how does an LCMS congregation handle pulpit supply when their one and only called pastor is on vacation? Are not retired pastors still "regularly called" enough to handle pulpit supply for one Sunday?

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation
« Reply #188 on: December 31, 2011, 11:29:39 AM »
We most certainly are family, not because of theological agreement, but because we pray, "Our Father ." My brothers and if I had sisters would be family because we call Paul Stoffregen "our father". Theologies are something we create. Adoption into God's family is something God has done for all of us.
For all your erudition, I do not think that you understand us.  Either that or you are so dismissive of us and what we find important that you consider our concerns unworthy of consideration or acknowledgement.  For all your praise of diversity, you seem totally unwilling to consider that there might be diversity in what some find important, and then to dismiss their concerns as not worthy of consideration.  I doubt that you mean it, and would deny saying so, but from my side your dismissiveness towards what many in the LCMS (and some in the ELCA) consider important even vital to our faith feels like contempt.


Who is the "us" that you claim I do not understand? Remember, I attended an LCMS college. My wife grew up LCMS. Albeit, my exposure to the LCMS was in the State of Oregon, where they often said, "We're a long ways from St. Louis." I, as an ALCer, was attending the college at a time where there was fellowship between our two church bodies.


I wonder, what is more important to you than together calling God, "Our Father"? My brothers and I don't agree on everything, but we do agree that Paul Stoffregen is our father. We agree, in spite of our differences, that we are brothers, children of the same father -- and it pleases him greatly when we get along with each other (which we do).


I don't see in scriptures any third category of partially members of the family -- there are people for whom God is their father, which makes them all brothers and sisters to each other -- members of the same "family" and there are people for whom God is not their father, who are not members of that family.


Or, to use a biblical image, people re either connected to the Vine or not.
"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]

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation
« Reply #189 on: December 31, 2011, 11:34:30 AM »
It appears Stoffregen has missed even more than you observed. God's "family" is nothing like human families. For one thing, if praying to "Our Father" meant we were all literally brothers and sisters, then the human race would have perished a long time ago, because marriage would also be incest! Since that is absurd, it can only mean that thinking of each other as parts of a "family" is metaphor, and not literally the case. And, when metaphors are used to describe situations, they often aren't so exact that they can be used as proof of nuances of meaning.


Apparently you don't believe that there was a literal Adam and Eve whose children had to engage in incest for there to be a third generation. Does this mean you joined the critical, liberal side in biblical interpretation?
"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]

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation
« Reply #190 on: December 31, 2011, 11:42:28 AM »
We most certainly are family, not because of theological agreement, but because we pray, "Our Father ." My brothers and if I had sisters would be family because we call Paul Stoffregen "our father". Theologies are something we create. Adoption into God's family is something God has done for all of us.

Most certainly! So why is so much fuzz being made about a congregation wanting to get her pastors from different church body or about them sending their support to somewhere else? Why bother them about these technicalities? They pray to the same father after . . .

 ;D


Because just as each of my brothers has enter into a covenant relationship with their wives and children, so also denominational congregations have entered into a covenant relationship with the denomination -- and congregational members have entered into a covenant relationship with their congregation.


Even though we are commanded to love our neighbors as ourselves, we have a special love and relationship and concern for our own spouses and children. They are not and should not be treated like any ol' neighbor; but the second most significant persons in our lives (after God whom we are to fear, love and trust above anything else). Congregations are to have a similar special relationship with their denomination. Members are to have a similar special relationship with the congregation they have joined.
"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]

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation
« Reply #191 on: December 31, 2011, 11:57:10 AM »
The last page brings to mind the theological double speak that frustrates many of us who remain in the ELCA:

A.  We are told that anyone who leaves the ELCA over issues of sexuality is denying the unity we have in Christ.  Here both the images of the Body of Christ and the Family of God are employed.


I have not heard that argument used at all. Whether or not a congregation or individuals leave the ELCA, we are still united in Christ. We don't always act like it.

Quote
B.  ELCA leaders then demand strict adherence to the interpretations of the current Secretary of the ELCA as the measure of good standing in the ELCA.  These make dual association with other members of the Family of God cause for discipline.


Members and congregations have a covenant relationship with their denomination -- and the closest analogy that we have to a covenant relationships is marriage. Once in that relationship, we agree to follow certain rules and behaviors. Throughout scriptures, turning to another God is called adultery -- being unfaithful to the marriage vows. God's covenant with us is summarized with: "I will be your God and you will be my people." In marriage: "I will be your husband/wife and you will be my wife/husband." And, "We will be your congregation and you will be our denomination." While there are means to get out of the marriage and denominational relationship; but once in them, the proper steps have to be taken to get out.


Quote
A.  Those who leave the ELCA are called schismatic.


It depends on their rhetoric and actions after leaving. If they continue to encourage congregations to leave and bad-mouthing the ELCA, that is being schismatic -- working at tearing apart their former denomination. If they believe that leaving was the best choice for themselves, that is not seeking to tear apart the ELCA.

Quote
B.  Those who refuse to pray the Our Father are considered members in good standing of the ELCA.


Not necessarily. Those who pray "Our Father" should be considered members in good standing of the family of God and should be treated as a brother or sister in Christ, regardless of who they have married or which denomination they have entered a relationship with.


As I recall, this sub-thread began with the question of what is our unity. I said that it begins with having a common Father. That is not all that is involved in uniting a group of people in a family or a congregation or a denomination. There is an old saying: "The family that prays together, stays together." My hunch is that when factions within a congregation no longer gather to pray together, the unity given them by God is eroding.

« Last Edit: December 31, 2011, 12:03:17 PM by Brian Stoffregen »
"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]

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation
« Reply #192 on: December 31, 2011, 12:08:57 PM »
This is a question about which Lutherans disagree.  As I understand the LCMS argument, this statement means that there can be no such thing as an interim pastor, because such is not a regular call.  I can't speak for WELS or ELS, but they might have the same understanding.  Many of us, however, believe an interim call is well within the leeway allowed to a congregation, ie. they can call someone for a period.  Personally, I think this can be read and treated both ways and therefore we ought not fight about it.  The question of chaplaincy is easily solved by simply having a congregation call a chaplain and then charge him with that task.  He is properly called and properly tasked.


In many of our synods, the synod council extends a Letter of Call to interim ministers. They are under call to the Synod to serve as interim ministers where needed. There are also some specialized ministries to which the Synod council extends calls, e.g., a campus ministry when there is not an organized congregation that can extend a call.
"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]

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Re: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation
« Reply #193 on: December 31, 2011, 12:15:27 PM »
The thing is, I am not aware of any on the traditionalist side who argued that it wasn't the case.  As I recall, it was the Presiding Bishop and others who in the aftermath of CWA 2009 chided traditionalists for allowing matters of the Left Hand Realm to divide the ELCA.  It is primarily the pro-HSGT partisans who insist that things like policy and guidlines for rostered leaders ought not be considered a big deal.


Only one sentence in V&E that was consider both unjust and a non sequitur within the paragraph. And, in some ways, they considered the details of our policies and guidelines an even bigger deal than the "traditionalists," because the language of disciplinary actions repeated uses the word "may". According to the details of our documents, no bishop was required to seek the removal of pastors from the roster because they had failed to meet an expectation in V&E.
"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]

DCharlton

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Re: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation
« Reply #194 on: December 31, 2011, 12:29:06 PM »
The last page brings to mind the theological double speak that frustrates many of us who remain in the ELCA:

A.  We are told that anyone who leaves the ELCA over issues of sexuality is denying the unity we have in Christ.  Here both the images of the Body of Christ and the Family of God are employed.


I have not heard that argument used at all. Whether or not a congregation or individuals leave the ELCA, we are still united in Christ. We don't always act like it.

Then you weren't paying attention.  It was used over and over again.

Quote
Quote
B.  ELCA leaders then demand strict adherence to the interpretations of the current Secretary of the ELCA as the measure of good standing in the ELCA.  These make dual association with other members of the Family of God cause for discipline.


Members and congregations have a covenant relationship with their denomination -- and the closest analogy that we have to a covenant relationships is marriage. Once in that relationship, we agree to follow certain rules and behaviors. Throughout scriptures, turning to another God is called adultery -- being unfaithful to the marriage vows. God's covenant with us is summarized with: "I will be your God and you will be my people." In marriage: "I will be your husband/wife and you will be my wife/husband." And, "We will be your congregation and you will be our denomination." While there are means to get out of the marriage and denominational relationship; but once in them, the proper steps have to be taken to get out.

Since you chose the analogy of marriage, I use it as well.  The relationship between traditionalists and the ELCA is like that between a woman and her philandering husband.  For 20 years he plays fast and loose with his marriage vows.  When the wife finally decides to leave, he lectures her about marital faithfulness.  For 20 years the ELCA played fast and lose with the marriage vows (constitutions and policies) it had made with its members.  When those members and congregations finally decided to leave, they were lectured on marital faithfulness (just as you have done above).

Quote
Quote
A.  Those who leave the ELCA are called schismatic.

It depends on their rhetoric and actions after leaving. If they continue to encourage congregations to leave and bad-mouthing the ELCA, that is being schismatic -- working at tearing apart their former denomination. If they believe that leaving was the best choice for themselves, that is not seeking to tear apart the ELCA.

Many were called schismatic for the simple act of leaving. 

Quote
Quote
B.  Those who refuse to pray the Our Father are considered members in good standing of the ELCA.


Not necessarily. Those who pray "Our Father" should be considered members in good standing of the family of God and should be treated as a brother or sister in Christ, regardless of who they have married or which denomination they have entered a relationship with.

Try reading it again Brian.  I'm talking about those who refuse to pray the Our Father.  Many who refuse to pray the Our Father are considered members in good standing. 

Quote
As I recall, this sub-thread began with the question of what is our unity. I said that it begins with having a common Father. That is not all that is involved in uniting a group of people in a family or a congregation or a denomination. There is an old saying: "The family that prays together, stays together." My hunch is that when factions within a congregation no longer gather to pray together, the unity given them by God is eroding.

No one that I'm aware of, except those trying to get people and congregations to stay in the ELCA, have argued that having a common Father is sufficient for congregational or denominational unity.  In fact, you were the one who sought to confuse a discussion of the "family ties" within the ELCA with a discussion of the Church as the Family of God. 
« Last Edit: December 31, 2011, 12:37:11 PM by DCharlton »
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