Author Topic: Weddings, Bishops, Youth, Oh my!  (Read 2440 times)

Richard Johnson

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Weddings, Bishops, Youth, Oh my!
« on: August 13, 2005, 02:43:55 PM »
The last memorial to be taken up came from the Northern Great Lakes Synod, and asked that synodically authorized lay ministers be authorized to preside at weddings where an ordained pastor is not available (subject to state laws). The Committee recommended referral to the Division for Ministry, in consultation with several others, to bring a report and recommendations to the April 2006 Church Council meeting. Bishop Ray Tiemann of Southwest Tiemann is the one who asked that the matter be removed from the en bloc motion, and he stated he had done so to allow the Church Council to hear some discussion of the matter before it comes to them. Such discussion followed. The argument for this was that there are rural areas where synodically authorized lay ministers are functioning as pastors, and yet are unable to do this basic piece of pastoral care. The argument against was that this would continue to erode the unique role of the pastoral office. In the end, the Assembly approved the recommendation to refer, 736-172. (Overheard in the men’s room shortly after the vote: a pastor muttering, “They can have all the weddings, I don’t care!”)

After a hymn break, the Assembly heard a report from Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service and from Lutheran Services in America. They also heard from Beth Lewis, head of Augsburg Fortress. Ms. Lewis presented a David Letterman style list of reasons why we should patronize Augsburg Fortress. Some of them weren’t very persuasive to me (#6, Mark Hanson’s book, falls in that category, I must admit), though others have some potential (#2, the online sundaysandseasons.com) and her claim of improved service (#3, over 99% of orders are out the door within 24 hours [the rest are still there somewhere]). But #1 was the most provocative: When you order from Augsburg Fortress, she said, you are making a stewardship decision. “We are your publishing ministry.”

Stewardship, of course, has many dimensions and elements, and they are often complicated. Tonight I’m forgoing the banquet celebrating 35 years of the ordination of women, not because I don’t think that’s an event worth celebrating, but because dinner in the hotel’s pricey restaurants are considerably cheaper than the banquet ticket. So I’d like to go to the banquet, but in the stewardship balances, the banquet seems the wrong decision for me. In the same way, I’d like to patronize Augsburg Fortress, and I do so when I can. But there are still plenty of times when the better stewardship—and I’m not merely talking money here—seems to demand making a different decision.

The Reference and Counsel Committee was next. A resolution calling for reflection on “a methodology for new mission starts that reflects the challenges of today’s mission field in the United States . . . in faithfulness to biblical models of financing, building up, encouraging, and holding new mission congregations accountable for Great Commission outreach.” The motion was to refer to the Vocation and Education program unit, in collaboration with Evangelical Outreach and Congregational Mission unit. Motion carried 842-14.

A motion made by Michael Cooper-White, President of Gettysburg Seminary, proposed a study assessing the merits of electing bishops by ecclesiastical ballot. Reference and Counsel recommended referring to the Office of the Presiding Bishop and the Conference of Bishops to report to the Church Council. Cooper-White’s motivation seems to have been primarily a feeling that some other process might lead to greater diversity in the Conference of Bishops, as well as a concern that the ecclesiastical ballot forces incumbent bishops into an untenable political situation in the last years of their term (though one wonders how that would be different in any other system that allows for re-election). The Assembly agreed to the referral, 723-157.

A motion calling for greater encouragement and participation of persons with disabilities came from Constance Kilmark, South-Central Synod of Wisconsin. R&C moved referral to Vocation and Education unit, and the Assembly agreed, 867-31.

A proposal for a continuing resolution asking that the Nominating Committee strive to ensure that at least two members of the Church Council be between the ages of 24 and 30, and two under the age of 24. The R&C Committee moved referral to the Office of the Secretary for report and possible recommendation. The original author of the proposal, Mikka McCracken of NW Minnesota, moved to substitute the original proposal (which would have the effect of implementing this as proposed immediately). There was long debate. I thought I had fallen asleep and awakened in about 1970. Eventually, the motion to substitute the immediate implementation was defeated 377-532, and the motion of R&C to refer was approved 790-128, and the Assembly stood in recess.

roj in Orlando 8/13/05 5:45 p.m. EDT
The Rev. Richard O. Johnson, STS

Mikka McCracken

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Re: Weddings, Bishops, Youth, Oh my!
« Reply #1 on: August 24, 2005, 02:07:53 PM »
Dear Mr. Johnson,

Correctly, there is a stipulation ensuring that two of the church council members must be under the age of the 30 at the time of their election. The proposal was keep that in place, and also to ensure two member on the church council under the age of 24 at the time of their election. Not to ensure that there would be two BETWEEN the ages of 24 and 30.

Why did you think you were in the 1970s?

Sincerely, Mikka McCracken

Richard Johnson

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Re: Weddings, Bishops, Youth, Oh my!
« Reply #2 on: August 24, 2005, 08:03:15 PM »
Quote

Correctly, there is a stipulation ensuring that two of the church council members must be under the age of the 30 at the time of their election. The proposal was keep that in place, and also to ensure two member on the church council under the age of 24 at the time of their election. Not to ensure that there would be two BETWEEN the ages of 24 and 30.

Why did you think you were in the 1970s?

Sincerely, Mikka McCracken


I will happily accept your correction, at least unless I get around to looking it up myself and find that you weren't correct!  ;D

Well, back in the seventies in a different church body, when I was, oh, three decades or so younger than I am now, I was actively involved in efforts to ensure youth participation. I thought those battles were long settled, but apparently I was wrong.  :-/
The Rev. Richard O. Johnson, STS