Author Topic: Hearing on revision of Vision & Expectations  (Read 2080 times)

Richard Johnson

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Hearing on revision of Vision & Expectations
« on: August 06, 2019, 09:07:54 PM »
Tonight I'm attending the "hearing" on the revision of Vision & Expectations. This is sort of an outlier, since there's nothing about this on the agenda. But it was set up as an opportunity to explain what's happening with this proposed revision, hear people's ideas, etc. Chaired by Pr. Peder Johansen who is apparently a Council Member on the task force working on this. He turns this over to Philip Hirsch, executive director of ELC Domestic Mission unit. The draft called "Trustworthy Servants of the People of God" (see May 2019 Forum Letter) was so problematic that it apparently has been withdrawn.The email Hirsch sent out to all "rostered leaders" recently  said "Our inclination is to begin fresh and not try to edit" TSPG "and to start with your voices." So this session is part of listening to "our voices."

I'm a little surprised that the place isn't packed; I thought there'd be a lot of people here for this one, but there are several empty seats. But maybe they are just trickling in after a short dinner hour.

As Hirsch explains this decision, he seems to be saying that a primary reason for it is that groups like ELM (Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries), weren't invited to be part of the process. He then adds seminary students and ethnic communities to those who "weren't included." The Domestic Mission unit has called together some listening groups. What they noticed is that there are two things conflated, one the need to deal with misconduct among the clergy, and the other a more aspirational piece about "expectations." In other words, the problem is that V&E was being used in a disciplinary way.

There's more than sexuality that needs to go into a document like this. Cultural sensitivity to racism, for instance, needs to be included.

First speaker notes that V&E had excellent theological grounding, while TSPG did not, it went right to behaviors. What's your intent for a new document? Response: a statement of faith has got to be part of the new document.

What's your intention to include folks that represent the more traditional or conservative ELCA members? Response: the bishop we have on the group is Kurt Kuserow, deliberately chosen because he represents the more traditionalist view. We want to be sure that we reach out to all four "categories" in the sexuality study (i.e., the various positions on homosexuality).

Minneapolis pastor who identifies herself as using she/her/hers pronoun. (I can see where this is going.) She wants to be sure that if there is to be an aspirational document, it has to be clear that is what it is and why we need it. It can't be used as a cudgel against LGBTQ community, but also e.g. seminarians, young leaders who may have different ideas about relationships (i.e., they want to have sex outside of marriage). I don't think we should have this document at all.

SW PA pastor. Commend church for moving past a document used to separate those "good enough" to be pastors from those not good enough. We also need guidelines on how we are to care for ourselves; the temptation is for leaders not to do so.

Chicago pastor who uses she/her/hers pronouns. I don't believe we can have a document like this without it being weaponized.

Pastor from Upper Susquehanna Synod. He doesn't identify his pronouns.  ::) Let's talk and think about money also. As we prepare people to go into rostered leadership in this church, one of the most important things we need to do is to outline realistically the economic realities of the communities into which they will be called.

Minnesota young adult lay person: Church needs leaders who can credibly relate to their congregations. I've seen peers go through candidacy process in conditions that encourage them to lie about their relationships and beliefs.

Pastor in Northern Illinois synod. Was involved in a discussion of TSPG that included some Presbyterians. In their church, expectations are for all members, not just clergy. She also saw a document from the UCC which was brief and very good (didn't focus on sex). Have you considered other church's comparable documents. Answer: some of us have, but we will be doing that more intentionally. Adds that we have different expectations for pastors because of the power dimension.

Pastor from MN (she/her/hers)--how many on the task force are single? Response: two of the twelve. Pastor says she is single, and she observes that single pastors are treated much more suspiciously than married people, who are assumed to be OK. When the people who are having the conversation are all married, that's a problem. (This gets applause)  Response: Listening group is not intended to be totally inclusive. Her comment: 50% of people are single.
Pr. Johansen points out that the statement in TSPG against cohabitation was there in order to have it in congruence with the sexuality statement.

Minnesota "queer pastor, also married, pronouns she/her/hers". Church has been too interest in "CYA" (I think that means cover your ass) rather than the gospel. We need to be bound by the gospel, not by an unethical document.

Pastor from WVA/WMD synod, serving on candidacy committee. "We've been watching very carefully." We want a document steeped in the Lutheran heritage. As a clergy woman I have to squint a little to see myself in the Augsburg Confession, but I can see myself.

Pastor from SW TX: What does the church need? We need to talk about sex, when it's good and when it's bad. We need to say our pastors have sex, so deal with it. A huge part of the problem is that we're not talking about it. We want to control sex, but not talk about it. We talk about clergy having power, but female clergy actually experience men having power over them, and we need to recognize that.

Candidate for ministry, on internship. Affirm what committee is trying to do. We need a document outlining expectations. I was excited by the title of the document TSPS--"trustworthy" is what we need to be, and I need to know what is expected of me. Not just about sex.

Woman pastor: I've been married 35 years, but I don't see why my experience should be normative. Document puts terrible burden on pastors--we need self care, there's no document telling congregations they need to care for their pastor. (applause)

Iowa pastor: remember the single people. I was single when I was ordained. I dated, got engaged, got married. I felt relief on my wedding day that now I wouldn't be asked to account for my life in a certain way. Once I got married my economic reality changed, so I could consider different calls. While you're listening, include single income households.

Pastor Texas: what the church needs is healthy pastors/leaders who can have healthy relationships. Documents we've had have forced people to make decisions that have caused rushed marriages, bad marriages, etc. We don't need seminarians or pastors rushing into marriages. We don't need a document like this at all. (muttering of affirmations all around me)

College student excited to start candidacy process. It's crazy to me that people are already talking to me about V&E, that I should start practicing those values already. She is LBGTQ woman of color. This isn't realistic; we know our high school and college students are having sex. We need to hear their voices.

Pastor from Brooklyn. When I went through candidacy no one asked me about my sex life, because I had a heteronormative appearing marriage. Nobody asked me. This church is dying for a sexual ethic. We know the truth: we don't hold congregants to any standard, we're so desperate to have them come to our church. These documents are "white supremacist and heteronormative, based on some 1950s standards that we'll never see again"

NE PA pastor (she/her/hers) We don't need a new document, because we don't need any document. We already have what we need in our baptismal vows.

Pastor from Luther college (she/her/hers). Whatever we get, it shouldn't be a revision of V&E because of its history. We need to officially renounce that document.  Response: We plan to begin from scratch, not revise either V&E or TSPG. Deadline is fall 2020

Ohio pastor: When I started my candidacy I was married, then divorced, single mom. Multiyear hiatus, now in my first call at 60 years old. There are churches who want pastors and can't afford them, we need to stop putting labels on people.

MN pastor (he/him/his). We don't need an aspirational document

Chair of synod candidacy committee. I've listened, I agree with much, but how about practical realities. What is a candidacy committee supposed to do? We've repudiated V&E but we don't have a new document. Response: Church council did debate that very question. They voted not to rescind V&E but leave it in place until a new document is decided. So we continue to use a document that's not being used for the purpose for which it was originally intended? Makes no sense. What can we do at this assembly to address this problem? Johansen: Constitution requires that there be a document, so we can't just scrap the present document until there's a new one. In the meantime, let's be better stewards of the existing document (i.e, don't misuse it). Conference of bishops did advise their candidacy committees not to misuse document.

Astonishing. Just astonishing.
The Rev. Richard O. Johnson, STS

J. Thomas Shelley

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Re: Hearing on revision of Vision & Expectations
« Reply #1 on: August 06, 2019, 09:18:38 PM »
What is with the pronoun bravo sierra?

Did the moderator request that speakers "state their pronouns" or is this the latest fetish of the wacky world of judicatory meetings?
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Richard Johnson

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Re: Hearing on revision of Vision & Expectations
« Reply #2 on: August 06, 2019, 09:32:15 PM »
What is with the pronoun bravo sierra?

Did the moderator request that speakers "state their pronouns" or is this the latest fetish of the wacky world of judicatory meetings?

No, the moderator did not ask that they state their pronouns. So I choose option B. Worth noting that of the seven who stated their pronouns, five were from MN and one from Chicago, so maybe it's an upper midwest thing.
The Rev. Richard O. Johnson, STS

Eileen Smith

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Re: Hearing on revision of Vision & Expectations
« Reply #3 on: August 06, 2019, 09:43:31 PM »
I am really enjoying your coverage - not just the content but the style.  I have to say that I moved between moments of humor and sadness as I read the comments above.  One acts/lives a certain way prior to ordination as, gosh, high school students are having sex.  "... I had a heteronormative appearing marriage."  I need to get out more as I know of no one who talks like this. 

As to the social statement, it would seem it has already been adopted. 

Eileen
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TERJr

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Re: Hearing on revision of Vision & Expectations
« Reply #4 on: August 06, 2019, 09:44:55 PM »
What is with the pronoun bravo sierra?

Did the moderator request that speakers "state their pronouns" or is this the latest fetish of the wacky world of judicatory meetings?

No, the moderator did not ask that they state their pronouns. So I choose option B. Worth noting that of the seven who stated their pronouns, five were from MN and one from Chicago, so maybe it's an upper midwest thing.

Itís not just an upper Midwest thing. It is endemic among the nattering classes and academia. They are now considered de rigueur in email signatures along with titles, office numbers, etc.

Richard Johnson

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Re: Hearing on revision of Vision & Expectations
« Reply #5 on: August 06, 2019, 09:49:45 PM »
What is with the pronoun bravo sierra?

Did the moderator request that speakers "state their pronouns" or is this the latest fetish of the wacky world of judicatory meetings?

No, the moderator did not ask that they state their pronouns. So I choose option B. Worth noting that of the seven who stated their pronouns, five were from MN and one from Chicago, so maybe it's an upper midwest thing.

Itís not just an upper Midwest thing. It is endemic among the nattering classes and academia. They are now considered de rigueur in email signatures along with titles, office numbers, etc.

I wonder how long this is going to last? Really, what they should be saying is, "I prefer the pronouns 'I, me, mine.'" It's all about me, you know.
The Rev. Richard O. Johnson, STS

J. Thomas Shelley

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Re: Hearing on revision of Vision & Expectations
« Reply #6 on: August 06, 2019, 10:10:36 PM »
What is with the pronoun bravo sierra?

Did the moderator request that speakers "state their pronouns" or is this the latest fetish of the wacky world of judicatory meetings?

No, the moderator did not ask that they state their pronouns. So I choose option B. Worth noting that of the seven who stated their pronouns, five were from MN and one from Chicago, so maybe it's an upper midwest thing.

Itís not just an upper Midwest thing. It is endemic among the nattering classes and academia. They are now considered de rigueur in email signatures along with titles, office numbers, etc.

I wonder how long this is going to last? Really, what they should be saying is, "I prefer the pronouns 'I, me, mine.'" It's all about me, you know.

Lutheran clergy of all people should know better than to have such bondage of the will and a world view that is so incurvastus in se.

Kyrie eleison x 40
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Chrismated Antiochian Orthodox, eve of Mary of Egypt Sunday, A.D. 2015

TERJr

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Re: Hearing on revision of Vision & Expectations
« Reply #7 on: August 06, 2019, 10:15:17 PM »
It will last forever because it is a bold prophetic stance against oppression that puts us on ďthe right side of historyĒ by liberating everyone to decide for zim/zerself.

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Re: Hearing on revision of Vision & Expectations
« Reply #8 on: August 06, 2019, 10:28:05 PM »
An emerging reality where I live is that the ELCA is attracting a fairly narrow range of candidates for ministry, specifically of the position 4 and whatever is next variety. The candidates mentioned above would seem to suggest that this is the case throughout the church. Would you agree?

Richard Johnson

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Re: Hearing on revision of Vision & Expectations
« Reply #9 on: August 07, 2019, 08:53:23 AM »
An emerging reality where I live is that the ELCA is attracting a fairly narrow range of candidates for ministry, specifically of the position 4 and whatever is next variety. The candidates mentioned above would seem to suggest that this is the case throughout the church. Would you agree?

I certainly wouldn't disagree. There may be some regional variation.
The Rev. Richard O. Johnson, STS

Mark Brown

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Re: Hearing on revision of Vision & Expectations
« Reply #10 on: August 08, 2019, 11:06:54 AM »
An emerging reality where I live is that the ELCA is attracting a fairly narrow range of candidates for ministry, specifically of the position 4 and whatever is next variety. The candidates mentioned above would seem to suggest that this is the case throughout the church. Would you agree?

I certainly wouldn't disagree. There may be some regional variation.

My mother used to have an axiom, and approaching 80 she still holds to it.  She said that any profession that allows itself to become majority women will soon be all women.  Her correllary was that the moment of crossover was when the pay raises stopped.  (A little bit for everyone in mom's observations there.)  Her primary point to her son was don't fight the way of the world by picking a feminizing profession (or institution).

But reading reports like this - especially the pronouns part and the "we need to talk about sex" parts - make me ponder something.  As a creature of great inertia and contrariness, if I had been ELCA from birth, what would have pushed me out and would anything have done so?  I'm on the outside so I'm not sure I could even answer that hypothetical, but that meeting is something that I think I would have cut my wrists rather than been present at.  I know I would have been hearing my mother's axiom in my head and saying "yep, still true, so why didn't I listen".  And I'd have a hard time imagining anyone not in "bucket 4" as not thinking roughly the same.  Moving from subtle "not for me signals" to active "get out" signals.



James S. Rustad

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Re: Hearing on revision of Vision & Expectations
« Reply #11 on: August 08, 2019, 12:54:51 PM »
My mother used to have an axiom, and approaching 80 she still holds to it.  She said that any profession that allows itself to become majority women will soon be all women.  Her correllary was that the moment of crossover was when the pay raises stopped.  (A little bit for everyone in mom's observations there.)  Her primary point to her son was don't fight the way of the world by picking a feminizing profession (or institution).

But reading reports like this - especially the pronouns part and the "we need to talk about sex" parts - make me ponder something.  As a creature of great inertia and contrariness, if I had been ELCA from birth, what would have pushed me out and would anything have done so?  I'm on the outside so I'm not sure I could even answer that hypothetical, but that meeting is something that I think I would have cut my wrists rather than been present at.  I know I would have been hearing my mother's axiom in my head and saying "yep, still true, so why didn't I listen".  And I'd have a hard time imagining anyone not in "bucket 4" as not thinking roughly the same.  Moving from subtle "not for me signals" to active "get out" signals.

I've been ELCA for nearly all of my life.  I was baptised in an LCMS congregation but mom and dad joined a church near them that became part of the ELCA during the merger.  I think I might have been less than a year old.

Most recently I've been attending an ELCA church for about five years without formally joining it because I'm uncomfortable with where the ELCA seems to be going.

The statement that the documents were "white supremacist" would have been plenty for me to walk out of the meeting.  It just confirms my discomfort with the ELCA.  The water is too hot for me and I'm now seriously looking for a non-ELCA church.