Daily Archives: August 22, 2009

A New York Times article on the Lutheran Decision

On Friday, delegates juggled raw emotion, fatigue and opposing interpretations of Scripture.

Before the vote but sensing its outcome, the Rev. Timothy Housholder of Cottage Grove, Minn., introduced himself as a rostered pastor in the church, “at least for a few more hours,” implying that he would leave the denomination and eliciting a gasp from some audience members.

“Here I stand, broken and mournful, because of this assembly and her actions,” Mr. Housholder said.

The Rev. Mark Lepper of Belle Plaine, Minn., called for the inclusion of gay clergy members, saying, “Let’s stop leaving people behind and let’s be the family God is calling us to be.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Lutheran, Other Churches, Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)

Force of Cohabit: Making or Breaking a Marriage?

It seems, to many, like the sensible thing to do: Move in with your boyfriend or girlfriend, spend more time together, save money by splitting the rent and see if you can share a bathroom every morning without wanting to kill each other.

But if you were Scott Stanley’s kid, he’d beg you not to do it.

Stanley, a University of Denver psychologist, has spent the past 15 years trying to figure out why premarital cohabitation is associated with lower levels of satisfaction in marriage and a greater potential for divorce.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Theology, Young Adults

Connecting Military Families Thousands of Miles Apart

Visit msnbc.com for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

This is just wonderful.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Blogging & the Internet, Children, Marriage & Family, Military / Armed Forces, Science & Technology

Lutheran CORE leaders renounce ELCA decision to allow pastors to be in same-sex relationships

“Lutheran CORE is continuing in the Christian faith as it has been passed down to us by generations of Christians. The ELCA is the one that has departed from the teaching of the Bible as understood by Christians for 2,000 years,” said the Rev. Paull Spring of State College, Pa., chair of Lutheran CORE. “I am saddened that a Lutheran Church that was founded on a firm commitment to the Bible has come to the
point that the ELCA would vote to reject the Bible’s teaching on marriage and homosexual behavior. It breaks my heart.”

“The assembly has voted to remove the ELCA from the universal Christian consensus on marriage and homosexual behavior. Lutheran CORE intends to remain faithful to the clear teaching of Scripture and the consistent teaching of the Christian Church worldwide and throughout time,” said Ryan Schwarz of Washington, D.C., a member of the Lutheran CORE Steering Committee, who was a finalist in Friday’s
election for ELCA Vice President.

Read it all.

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Lutheran, Other Churches, Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)

LA Times–Lutherans lift barrier for partnered gay clergy

Theologians and church analysts said both votes could influence other Protestant denominations — including Presbyterians and United Methodists — that are struggling to reconcile conflicts over homosexuality and the Bible.

One scholar characterized the move by the two groups as a “watershed moment in American Christianity” that could further divide churches already laboring to stem the flight of traditionalists.

“Those who have been actively campaigning for a change of this sort in the other mainline denominations will see this as a sign that they should intensify their efforts,” Richard Mouw, president of Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, said in an e-mail. “For those of us who have opposed this on biblical grounds, it is bound to reinforce the sense that we are no longer welcome in the mainline.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Lutheran, Other Churches, Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)

The State (Columbia, S.C.): Lutheran Debate mirrors split among Episcopalians in S.C. and beyond

But for some lifelong Episcopalians the national church is moving too far and too fast.

“It’s like a friend of mine said, before 2003, I was sitting on the front row, after 2003, I was sitting in the middle, and after this General Convention, I’m sitting on the back pew, with one eye on the door,” said David Keller, a member of Christ Church in Greenville.

Keller led the 1994 diocesan nominating committee in that selected Henderson as bishop of the Upper Diocese. But Keller said he has gradually retreated from administrative church responsibilities as the national and local church has struggled with the gay and lesbian issue. A loyal lay reader of the scriptures, he said he is taking a sabbatical from that Sunday routine as well.

“An awful lot of people that I know who are very upset about what is going on have already stopped going to church or just jumped ship,” said Keller, who as a delegate to the 2003 national convention voted against Robinson’s ordination.

He said he was in a “wait and see attitude” and was keenly interested in the theological counsel of South Carolina’s other Episcopal bishop, Mark Lawrence, who leads Lowcountry Episcopalians and considers himself an orthodox Episcopalian.

Read it all.

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, * South Carolina, Lutheran, Other Churches, Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)

Washington Post: 'Monogamous' Gays Can Serve in ELCA

Quoting the Bible and denomination founder Martin Luther, delegates sought to place the decision within their interpretation of their Lutheran faith.

“We live today with an understanding of homosexuality that did not exist in Jesus’ time and culture,” Tim Mumm, a lay delegate from Wisconsin and supporter of Lutherans Concerned, an gay-rights organization, said during the debate. “We are responding to something that the writers of Scripture could not have understood.”

But other said the recommendations weaken the Biblical standards of the church.

“As Luther taught us, Scripture does not have a wax nose,” said the Rev. Ryan Mills, a delegate representing Texas and Louisana. “It cannot be twisted into anything we want it to say. But that’s just what we’re doing with these following recommendations.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Lutheran, Other Churches, Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)

ELCA News: ELCA Assembly Opens Ministry to Partnered Gay and Lesbian Lutherans

Pastor Richard Mahan of the ELCA West Virginia-Western Maryland Synod was among several speakers contending that the proposed changes are contrary to biblical teaching. “I cannot see how the church that I have known for 40 years can condone what God has condemned,” Mahan said, “Nowhere does it say in scripture that homosexuality and same sex marriage is acceptable of God.”

But others said a greater acceptance of people who are gay and lesbian in the church was consistent with the Bible. Bishop Gary Wollersheim of the ELCA Northern Illinois Synod said, “It’s a matter of justice, a matter of hospitality, it’s what Jesus would have us do.” Wollersheim said he had been strongly influenced by meetings with youth at youth leadership events in his synod, a regional unit of the ELCA.

Read it all.

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Lutheran, Other Churches, Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)

Benjamin Ladner: The Episcopal gamble

Churches, of course, reflect the diversity of the American people who make up their membership, so it is not surprising that tensions between conservatives and liberals in churches echo views expressed in so-called secular culture. However, an added ingredient helps fuel the intensity of disagreement in church settings. People in Christian churches of all stripes affirm the reality of a divinely revealed truth, namely that the essence of the sacred is love, which is the touchstone of all human interactions. This is no mere abstract doctrine. The way we treat other people ”” accepting them with dignity as equals and loving them as we love ourselves ”” is at the heart of what Christianity is all about.

This disarmingly simply message can be, as the Scriptures say, a “stumbling block” for many. It asserts that the dignity of individuals supersedes any institutional claim ”” even by the church ”” that would diminish this dignity in any way. Loving my neighbor takes precedent over loving my church and reducing individuals to stereotypes.

What the Episcopal Church has done, and has done boldly and decisively, is to make a choice, a gamble of faith, without being able to predict or control the ultimate impact on the institution. It is likely that those who supported the action are humbled by the immensity of the risk, encouraged by a memorable moment of collective courage and comforted that the choice they made is consistent with the deepest meanings of the Christian faith.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Conflicts

Mary Wakefield–Teaching: a job with no kudos

I am less understanding. How and why are teachers allowed to bunk off at will? Why are so many of them so apathetic about doing what must be the most important job there is?

Neither Hannah nor Elliott knew, so the work experience crew set to and conducted an inquiry into the matter. In the last few weeks they’ve googled schools around the world and they’ve concluded, Mr Balls, that the English system is specially designed to demoralise teachers.

The first question they have is: why do we expect so little from teacher training applicants? The only academic credential you need to train to be a teacher is a C grade at GCSE in English and maths. Surely we want most of our little darlings to aim at least a bit higher than that? What’s the sense in requiring less of teachers than we do of pupils?

The second question is: why can’t a teacher be sacked? However badly a teacher does; however much attendance or enthusiasm plummets on his watch, unless he’s actually caught groping some Year 7 tot, it’s almost impossible to get rid of him.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Education, England / UK

Charleston, S.C., Post and Courier: Lutheran assembly OKs gay unions

In a phone conversation before the afternoon session, during which delegates would decide the issue of ordination, [South Carolina Bishop Herman R.] Yoos said he voted in favor of recognizing same-sex unions but that he planned to vote against ordaining gays and lesbians in committed, publicly accountable relationships.

“My position is we need to live with same-sex unions blessed and recognized for a period of time to discern whether to take the next step or not.” Yoos said he is not necessarily opposed to the idea, but he is cautious about moving too fast. He called the new policy a profound and historical change but worried that two such changes in quick succession might be one too many.

Proponents of the new policy pledged to work with the church to achieve reconciliation.

“Today I am proud to be a Lutheran,” Emily Eastwood, executive director of Lutherans Concerned/North America, said in a statement. “The ELCA has always had gay ministers, now those and all ministers are free to claim who they are and to have the love and support of a life-long partner, regardless of orientation or gender identity, which is all we ever asked.”

The Rev. Steve Plonk, pastor of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Mount Pleasant, said the debate certainly has infiltrated his congregation, which includes some who want the church to lead on the issues of gay marriage and ordination, others who embrace a more orthodox view and insist the church shouldn’t even discuss the matter and still others who hope for careful, gradual progress.

Read it all.

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, * South Carolina, Lutheran, Other Churches, Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)

From the Local Paper: Can embattled South Carolina governor be effective?

But in the past two months, Sanford has been out of state for 25 days, more than half of which was spent in Europe trying to reconcile with his wife and children.

That’s fine to those who view the time off as coming during the dog days of summer, a time Sanford could spend best as a father and a husband first.

For others, the time away while the state is suffering doesn’t sit well, especially as more than 11 percent of workers in South Carolina can’t find jobs.

To be sure, Sanford is in lame-duck territory, no different than any term-limited politician at the end of his tenure. Sanford, a Republican, has a little more than 16 months remaining in office, and his recent troubles only make it harder for him to make the policy and taxation changes he seeks.

But Rep. Todd Rutherford, a Columbia Democrat who has called for Sanford to resign, said for the governor to prove that he should remain in office is “looking rather daunting.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Politics in General, State Government

AJC: Same-sex unions accepted by Evangelical Lutherans

Pastors in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America can bless same-sex unions after a vote Friday by delegates at the Churchwide Assembly in Minneapolis.

“I’ve been a life-long member at Redeemer Lutheran Church [in Atlanta], and I was never comfortable asking my church to bless my relationship,” said Bob Gibeling, who is at the assembly.

“This offers great hope to me that when I find a future life-long partner, my own beloved congregation will want to bless that union.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Lutheran, Other Churches, Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)

Living Church: ELCA to Allow Same-Sex Blessings

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s 11th Churchwide Assembly continued debating human sexuality on Friday morning, and approved allowing congregations to bless same-sex couples by a vote of 771-230.

After a long week of hearings and debates, some voting members of the ELCA assembly cried as they spoke, or choked back tears. Even a resolution that called on ELCA members to “bear one another’s burdens, love the neighbor, and respect the bound consciences of all” became a point of contention.

Pastor Steven Frock of the Western Iowa Synod cited Jesus’ warning that those who cause little ones to sin face a sharp judgment in eternity.

“Are you willing, and can you so casually, place your mortal souls at risk?” he asked. “If you have any doubts at all, I ask you not to step off this precipice.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Lutheran, Other Churches, Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)

Doug Leblanc FactChecks Newsweek on the Episcopal Church

What ruins the piece for me is that Newsweek has not corrected errors first pointed out by fellow Godbeat scribe Frank Lockwood. It openly corrected one error: The claim that President Reagan ever identified himself as an Episcopalian. It quietly corrected two other problems: Referring to the church’s General Convention as an annual rather than a triennial meeting, and referring to President Ford as if he were still alive. (Under a sacramental reading of Hebrews 12:1, one could make the case for referring to President Ford’s faith in the present tense.)

But Newsweek has let stand some howlers involving membership statistics. As one of many journalists cursed with innumeracy, I sympathize with Miller on these mistakes. I once wildly overstated the membership of the Episcopal Diocese of Springfield, but as soon as I realized my error I alerted my editor to it, and he corrected it.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Media