CHICAGO: Same-sex salvation

Started by JMOtterman, July 25, 2007, 11:20:53 PM

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JMOtterman

CHICAGO: Same-sex salvation

BY SUSAN HOGAN/ALBACH
Religion Reporter/shogan@suntimes.com
Chicago Sun Times
July 25, 2007

The Lutheran pastor soon to be bishop of the Metropolitan Chicago Synod wants his denomination to lift a celibacy requirement for gay and lesbian clergy.

"That's where I think the church is going," Bishop-elect Wayne Miller of Aurora said. "That's where I think it needs to go."

He's hoping the change will come next month in Chicago, where the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is conducting its churchwide assembly. Nearly a third of the denomination's 65 synods are asking for a policy shift in clergy standards.

WHERE THE FAITHS STAND

Catholics: The church, which only ordains celibate men, says homosexuality is "intrinsically disordered," but that it is not a sin to have a "homosexual orientation."

Episcopal Church (U.S.): Supportive of gay clergy, including a bishop in a same-sex relationship, which put the denomination at odds with some in the worldwide Anglican communion.

Presbyterians (U.S.): Clergy are required to live either in "fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman, or chastity in singleness."

United Church of Christ: Not only supports gay clergy, but endorses same-sex marriage.

United Methodist: Because homosexuality is considered "incompatible" with Christian teaching, "self-avowed practicing homosexuals" aren't ordained.

Judaism: More liberal branches allow for gay and lesbian rabbis.

Islam: Imams aren't ordained and homosexuality is considered immoral. Eventually, gay and lesbian clergy in monogamous, same-sex relationships could be allowed to serve.

John Roberts of Chicago also hopes it could lead to the reinstatement of gay clergy removed from ministry. He says he was ousted as pastor of a Michigan church in the 1990s after he confided to his bishop that he was gay.

"He gave me 11 days to leave the parish and not tell anyone," the 58-year-old Roberts said. "I still feel that call to pastoral ministry."

With 4.8 million baptized members, the ELCA, with headquarters in Chicago, is the nation's seventh-largest denomination. The Metropolitan Chicago Synod includes 217 congregations in Cook, DuPage, Kane and Lake counties.

Homosexuality is a long-debated issue at mainline church conventions. The ELCA opted for a middle-of-the-road path allowing for gay clergy who are celibate. Heterosexual clergy can be married.

A gay pastor from Atlanta was recently removed from the ELCA clergy roster because he was in a non-celibate committed relationship. Some synods, such as Chicago, have tried not to force the issue.

"Some of the churches with the most growth in this synod are led by gay pastors in committed relationships," said Bishop Paul Landahl, 69, who has led the Metropolitan Chicago Synod since 2001.

Landahl said he approaches the issue pastorally and with compassion.

"I have a daughter [who is in] a same-sex committed relationship," he said. "It's been part of my life. To see her connected to a church that's kind of slammed the door on gay and lesbian people is a miracle in and of itself."

More than 1,000 voting church members are expected at the Aug. 6-11 assembly at Navy Pier.

Miller, 57, will begin his six-year term as bishop on Sept. 1. He'll be formally installed Sept. 9 at the downtown Episcopal cathedral because it can accommodate the sizable turnout expected.

If the rules for gay clergy aren't relaxed, Miller acknowledges that he'll feel tension between his personal beliefs and his vows as bishop to uphold the policies of the church.

"That is the dilemma of a bishop at this particular moment in history," he said.

END


LutherMan

QuoteIf the rules for gay clergy aren't relaxed, Miller acknowledges that he'll feel tension between his personal beliefs and his vows as bishop to uphold the policies of the church.

Are ELCA bishops not expected to personally believe in the teachings and doctrine of their church body?

Brian Stoffregen

Quote from: LutherMan on July 26, 2007, 09:41:51 AM
QuoteIf the rules for gay clergy aren't relaxed, Miller acknowledges that he'll feel tension between his personal beliefs and his vows as bishop to uphold the policies of the church.

Are ELCA bishops not expected to personally believe in the teachings and doctrine of their church body?

In a sense, Vision and Expectations and Definition and Guidelines could be considered more as policy statements than as our teachings and doctrines. Our social statements, which require a 2/3 majority vote at a Churchwide Assembly, spell out the teachings and doctrines of the ELCA (that go beyond the constitutional Confession of Faith). We have not yet created such a statement regarding sexuality. We have a mixed bag. We prohibited practicing homosexuals from the ordained ministry; and we have approved statements welcoming homosexuals into our congregations. V&E and D&G were only approved by the church council.
I flunked retirement. Serving as a part-time interim in Ferndale, WA.

LutherMan

Thank you for explaining that Pr. Stoffregen.  If I remember correctly, didn't the constituting church bodies agree to disagree before the formation of ELCA and to define teachings and doctrines after the merger? 

Brian Stoffregen

Quote from: LutherMan on July 26, 2007, 01:16:44 PM
Thank you for explaining that Pr. Stoffregen.  If I remember correctly, didn't the constituting church bodies agree to disagree before the formation of ELCA and to define teachings and doctrines after the merger?
Let's just say that they didn't have all the kinks worked out of the system at the time of the new church. They had, what they believed (me, too), enough agreement, e.g., the Confession of Faith, to form a new church. One of the big areas of discussion was what percentage of a pastor's salary would go into the pension fund. The ALC's had been 9% and the LCA's was 12%. (If I remember right.) Synods differ on the way retired clergy are treated. In some, all are voting members at synod assemblies by virtue of their ordination. In others, like ours, only 10% are given the right to vote at synod assemblies. Who should pay for the retirees to attend? Such questions come out of different philosophies of the predecessor bodies -- that were never quite debugged at the beginning of the new church. (In the ALC, only elected delegates from congregations were given vote -- and even the pastor had to be elected by the congregation to be a voting member at District Conventions. In the LCA, all ordained clergy were given vote.)
I flunked retirement. Serving as a part-time interim in Ferndale, WA.

Michael_Rothaar

Quote from: JMOtterman on July 25, 2007, 11:20:53 PM
CHICAGO: Same-sex salvation

BY SUSAN HOGAN/ALBACH
Religion Reporter/shogan@suntimes.com
Chicago Sun Times
July 25, 2007

The link to the article itself should probably have been given: http://www.suntimes.com/lifestyles/religion/482305,CST-NWS-Luth25.article

On the Sun-Times page, you can see that the section

QuoteWHERE THE FAITHS STAND
Catholics: The church, which only ordains celibate men, says homosexuality is "intrinsically disordered," but that it is not a sin to have a "homosexual orientation."
Episcopal Church (U.S.): Supportive of gay clergy, including a bishop in a same-sex relationship, which put the denomination at odds with some in the worldwide Anglican communion.
Presbyterians (U.S.): Clergy are required to live either in "fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman, or chastity in singleness."
United Church of Christ: Not only supports gay clergy, but endorses same-sex marriage.
United Methodist: Because homosexuality is considered "incompatible" with Christian teaching, "self-avowed practicing homosexuals" aren't ordained.
Judaism: More liberal branches allow for gay and lesbian rabbis.
Islam: Imams aren't ordained and homosexuality is considered immoral.

is, in fact, a sidebar, and not part of the body of the piece.

Knowing that will calm the reader down after reading this startling assertion from a paragraph in the original posting here:

Islam: Imams aren't ordained and homosexuality is considered immoral. Eventually, gay and lesbian clergy in monogamous, same-sex relationships could be allowed to serve.

I mean, there's a lot of negative things to be said about Muslims but at least...

No, not going there.

One bit that caught my eye -- does anybody recognize the story behind this :

QuoteJohn Roberts of Chicago also hopes it could lead to the reinstatement of gay clergy removed from ministry. He says he was ousted as pastor of a Michigan church in the 1990s after he confided to his bishop that he was gay.

"He gave me 11 days to leave the parish and not tell anyone," the 58-year-old Roberts said. "I still feel that call to pastoral ministry."

The name came out of nowhere, and with no further identification (like being from LC or NAMBLA or something). Is it a memorable case that I just missed somehow?

Mike Rothaar
Retired from roster of active ELCA pastors 01 Jul 2012.
Mind and Spirit still working.

Richard Johnson

Quote from: Brian Stoffregen on July 26, 2007, 12:42:33 PM
Quote from: LutherMan on July 26, 2007, 09:41:51 AM
QuoteIf the rules for gay clergy aren't relaxed, Miller acknowledges that he'll feel tension between his personal beliefs and his vows as bishop to uphold the policies of the church.

Are ELCA bishops not expected to personally believe in the teachings and doctrine of their church body?

In a sense, Vision and Expectations and Definition and Guidelines could be considered more as policy statements than as our teachings and doctrines. Our social statements, which require a 2/3 majority vote at a Churchwide Assembly, spell out the teachings and doctrines of the ELCA (that go beyond the constitutional Confession of Faith). We have not yet created such a statement regarding sexuality. We have a mixed bag. We prohibited practicing homosexuals from the ordained ministry; and we have approved statements welcoming homosexuals into our congregations. V&E and D&G were only approved by the church council.

Actually, bishops are not constitutionally required to believe in the teachings and doctrines of the ELCA. They are only required to preach, teach, and administer the sacraments in accord with the Confession of Faith. Same thing with pastors, really. As I've pointed out before, the ordination rite doesn't require a pastor to aver that he or she believes Scripture and Confession; only that he or she will teach and preach according to them. Exception is for those of us coming into the ELCA from the ministry of other church bodies; we are required to state that the Lutheran confession is in fact our own confession.
The Rev. Richard O. Johnson, STS

ptmccain

Richard, that's a very interesting observation about the requirement to believe, or lack thereof. Made me go take a peek at our [LCMS] ordination rite to see if we require personal assent and belief. [I know it is assumed, but...assumptions are assumptions, not certainties].

OK, the wording of the questions put to the ordinand are as follows:

Do you believe and confess the canonical books of the Old and New Testaments to be the inspired Word of God and the only infallible rule of faith and practice?

Do you believe and confess the three Ecumenical Creeds....as faithful testimonies to the truth of the Holy Scriptures, and do you reject all the errors which they condemn?

Do you confess (lists the individual documents in the Book of Concord) -- as these are contained in the Book of Concord -- are also in agreement with this one Scriptural faith?

So...I would say that this is a requirement of personal belief, though I suppose somebody intending to deceive would find some way to so understand these questions as to not necessarily asking if the person personally agrees with all this, but that would be a stretch, I think.

Vern

As previously noted, I stand opposed!!


???Vern

Richard Johnson

Quote from: ptmccain on July 26, 2007, 02:16:00 PM
Richard, that's a very interesting observation about the requirement to believe, or lack thereof. Made me go take a peek at our [LCMS] ordination rite to see if we require personal assent and belief. [I know it is assumed, but...assumptions are assumptions, not certainties].

OK, the wording of the questions put to the ordinand are as follows:

Do you believe and confess the canonical books of the Old and New Testaments to be the inspired Word of God and the only infallible rule of faith and practice?

Do you believe and confess the three Ecumenical Creeds....as faithful testimonies to the truth of the Holy Scriptures, and do you reject all the errors which they condemn?

Do you confess (lists the individual documents in the Book of Concord) -- as these are contained in the Book of Concord -- are also in agreement with this one Scriptural faith?

So...I would say that this is a requirement of personal belief, though I suppose somebody intending to deceive would find some way to so understand these questions as to not necessarily asking if the person personally agrees with all this, but that would be a stretch, I think.

I like yours a lot better than ours, which is:

The church in which you are to be ordained confesses that the Holy Scriptures are the Word of God and are the norm of its faith and life. We accept, teach, and confess the Apostles', the Nicene and the Athanasian Creeds. We also acknowledge the Lutheran Confessions as true witnesses and faithful expositions of the Holy Scriptures. Wil you therefore preach and teach in accordance with the Holy Scriptures and these creeds and confessions?
The Rev. Richard O. Johnson, STS

ptmccain

Wow, really? Geesh, that has a loophole in it the size of Montana. Couldn't even a non-Christian take that promise, in the form it is worded?

I'm not trying to be harsh here, but I'm truly stunned by this. I had no idea it was like this for you folks.


Richard Johnson

Quote from: ptmccain on July 26, 2007, 02:37:16 PM
Wow, really? Geesh, that has a loophole in it the size of Montana. Couldn't even a non-Christian take that promise, in the form it is worded?

I'm not trying to be harsh here, but I'm truly stunned by this. I had no idea it was like this for you folks.

Well, that's the LBW. So maybe it came from the Missourians on that committee. Could have happened!  ;D
The Rev. Richard O. Johnson, STS

ptmccain

True, it could have happened. What are the questions in the new ELW materials, I wonder.

Brian Stoffregen

Quote from: ptmccain on July 26, 2007, 05:50:23 PM
True, it could have happened. What are the questions in the new ELW materials, I wonder.
The Occasional Service book (or whatever it will be called) related to ELW has not been published yet. I don't even think that there are preliminary rites published.
I flunked retirement. Serving as a part-time interim in Ferndale, WA.

Steven Tibbetts

Quote from: Richard Johnson on July 26, 2007, 01:59:07 PM
Same thing with pastors, really.

While not part of the LBW/OSB rite, I have heard that at least one ELCA Synod (in Texas) has the ordinand sign a copy of the Augsburg Confession during the rite.

pax, spt+
The Rev. Steven Paul Tibbetts, STS
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