Category : Lutheran

(JTNYCR) A Profile of St. Lydia's, a NYC Dinner Church Tied to the Lutheran and Episcopal traditions

The journey to St. Lydia’s began when Emily Scott and Rachel Pollak came from the Western United States to the East Coast to attend St. Lawrence College. Scott, an Episcopalian, hailed from Bothwell, Washington. Pollak, a Unitarian, came from Salt Lake City, Utah. Both also went on to complete graduate degrees at Yale Divinity School in 2007. By this time they were friends sharing ideas about what “doing church” would look like in the Twenty-first Century.

Scott graduated from the Institute of Sacred Music as a liturgist and musician. She had a passion for worship, arts and liturgy that emerged from her upbringing as an Episcopalian. Pollak received a Master of Arts and Religion from Yale. However, their paths diverged after Pollak moved to study at the Art Institute of Chicago while Scott stayed on the East Coast to work at a local church in New York City.

After she moved to the massive city, Scott began holding more and more dinner parties. The first traces of an idea about a new church can be seen in those friendly gatherings….

Part one is here and part two is there. Read them both.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Episcopal Church (TEC), Lutheran, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues

Episcopal Church and ELCA Presiding Bishops Issue joint statement on EPA and carbon emissions

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Lutheran, Other Churches, Presiding Bishop, Religion & Culture, Theology

Presbyterians plan to buy Lutheran church in Charleston, West Virginia

Although parishioners at St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church held their last service there in November, hymns might be heard again from the nearly 100-year-old church as soon as this fall. Riverview Presbyterian Church, now on Kanawha Boulevard, plans to buy the church building and move in.

“It had always been the hope of folks from St. Paul and Trinity [Evangelical Lutheran Church] that it would be purchased by a church or a community organization, so this is a real godsend,” said Trinity Lutheran’s Rev. Randy Richardson.

The Trinity and St. Paul congregations joined last year because of St. Paul’s dwindling membership. There were only about 40 voting members when the church closed.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, Lutheran, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Presbyterian, Religion & Culture, Urban/City Life and Issues

(CC) Mark Granquist–Ways to be Lutheran: New churches experiment with polity

American Lutherans became a full part of American Protestantism just in time to participate in its decline. From its high of more than 9 million members in 1965, the total number of American Lutherans declined to just over 7 million in 2013, representing about 2 percent of the American population. Though Lutheran numbers generally plateaued through the 1970s and 1980s, both the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Lutheran Church”“Missouri Synod have declined markedly over the past 25 years. The ELCA went from 5.2 million members in 1988 to 3.9 million in 2013; the LCMS declined less severely, from 2.7 million members in 1988 to 2.3 million in 2013. The decline in giving to the national programs and offices of these two denominations is also fairly dramatic, though more pronounced in the ELCA.

Besides suffering from the same negative demographic trends facing other mainline Protestant denominations in this period””aging membership and an inability to retain younger members””the ELCA since 2000 has witnessed the departure of nearly 500,000 members who have coalesced into two new and distinct centrist Lutheran denominations: the Lutheran Congre­ga­tions in Mission for Christ (2001) and the North American Luth­eran Church (2010). Though the scale of these departures is noteworthy in itself, this development is all the more interesting for the new patterns and new directions that these denominations are attempting to develop. Their rejection of the ELCA (and implicitly the LCMS) has forced them to experiment with new ways of being Lutheran Christians in the American context, and they are actively exploring these possibilities.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Ecclesiology, Lutheran, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Theology

David Yeago joins NALS and Trinity School for Ministry for Theology and Ethics

Dr. David Yeago has been appointed to the faculty of the North American Lutheran Seminary and Trinity School for Ministry in Ambridge, Pennsylvania, as Professor of Systematic Theology and Ethics.

“I am honored and delighted to join the faculty at Trinity School for Ministry in partnership with the North American Lutheran Seminary,” said Dr. Yeago. “Trinity’s commitment to the historic Christian faith, focus on Biblical theology, and passion for the mission of the Gospel correspond to my own priorities as a Christian theologian. I look forward to new friendships with new colleagues as we work together to form students for service to Christ and his Gospel in the Church and in the world.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Lutheran, Other Churches, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology

(Sightings) Martin Marty–on the End of Elite Denominational Headquarters

Once upon a time, from the UUA on down, “Headquarters” buildings were statements of power: “Look! We are important! ”˜Notice us!’” But just as cathedrals don’t tower in an age of skyscrapers, so impressive-looking headquarters no longer draw notice. And “secularization” is only part of the reason for this change.

When we look at secular analogues, we see that newspaper and other publishing empires are down-sizing for many reasons, including digitalization and the demands and opportunities that come with the internet. Today denominational and agency business is largely transacted in ways that permit employees to work from home, committees to meet by Skype, Conference Call, and other digital means. Many in the “secular” public make up their minds about the power and value of religious works and workings not based on images of huge Interchurch Centers or denominational Power Houses, but based on what they do….

Planners in religious agencies may regret turning the key to close the Big House doors for the last time, but wise planners are using their skills and energies to advance their work through non-elite, less-strategically-located bases of operation.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Episcopal Church (TEC), History, Lutheran, Methodist, Other Churches, Presbyterian, Religion & Culture, Theology, United Church of Christ

(RNS) Alban Institute, a resource for mainline institutions, to shutter

As mainline Protestant denominations continue decades of decline, one of the main institutions helping educate its leaders announced Wednesday (March 19) that it will shut its doors.

Since it was founded four decades ago, the Virginia-based Alban Institute has guided mostly mainline congregations through consulting and publishing. Its founder and former president, the Rev. Loren Mead, became well-known for his speaking and writing about the future of U.S. denominations and was one of the first to predict denominational decline.

“When I started as a parish pastor, I found there wasn’t much help or continuing education,” said Mead, a retired Episcopal priest. “I am glad I have been able to contribute to the church, but I have not been able to solve its turnaround.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Ecclesiology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Lutheran, Methodist, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Presbyterian, Religion & Culture, Sociology, Theology, United Church of Christ

(WSJ) A Profile of NYC Lutheran Bishop Robert Alan Rimbo

Churches under Bishop Rimbo’s purview are trying some unorthodox measures. In Williamsburg, Mr. McKelahan organized a life-size crossword puzzle inside the Lorimer Street/Metropolitan Avenue subway stop, where topics included Mexican art and nuclear physics, along with a few biblical questions. (Clue: Hebrew name meaning “He will laugh.” Answer: Isaac.)

Another interactive art project used giant dye-filled soap bubbles on foam at an event on Governor’s Island. Mr. McKelahan said that, while not explicitly religious, soap bubbles carry a spiritual message in that they must burst “if they are to leave a lasting impression”””referring to a passage in the Book of John.

“Did most people pick up on this spiritual message? Probably not,” he said. “But hopefully they see that the church is inviting them to work together in bringing joy and beauty into the world.”

Mr. McKelahan, who at 28 is one of the New York metro area’s youngest ordained Lutheran ministers, said it was Bishop Rimbo’s idea to send him to Williamsburg.

“I met with Bishop Rimbo and explained to him, ‘I’m really interested in making art as worship, all my friends are atheists,'” Mr. McKelahan said. “Bishop Rimbo said, ‘There’s this neighborhood in Brooklyn called Williamsburg where lots of young creative people are moving. We are trying to figure out how to minister to them. Would you like to do something with them?’ Even though I’d never heard of Williamsburg, I couldn’t say yes fast enough.”

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Evangelism and Church Growth, Lutheran, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues, Young Adults

In Martin Luther’s Church the Pastor Asks: Where Have All the Protestants Gone?

Pastor Johannes Block can consider himself Martin Luther’s successor. He’s the vicar of Stadtkirche St. Marien zu Wittenberg, Luther’s own church. The church is the St. Peter’s Basilica of Protestantism.

Here, Luther preached his incendiary sermons against Vatican corruption that led to the Reformation and the rise of the Protestant movement. It is where Protestant pastors were first ordained.

But on a typical Sunday, Block looks out over a mere 50 to 100 people in the pews: a tiny number in a city of 135,000, especially one whose official name is Lutherstadt (Luther City) Wittenberg. Indeed, nowhere in Germany is the share of Protestants lower than right here in Luther’s homeland.

Read it all from Newsweek.

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Lutheran, Other Churches

(Living Church) Robert Jenson–Ecumenism’s Strange Future

Not only were the mainline denominations beset by divisive internal controversy; they were simultaneously smitten by a wasting disease, whose agent is variously identified but whose presence is plain. Their theological, demographic, and financial declines are related and continue unchecked. They are already too internally riven to pay much attention to division from others.

The ecumenical movement centered on “the dialogues” was carried by these now distracted and enfeebled bodies and the Roman Catholic Church. And there is no one to pick up the burden on the Protestant side. Evangelicals are rarely bothered by questions of eucharistic fellowship ”” or by sacramental matters generally ”” and when they do think about such fellowship they assume that they are all in it anyway. In the dialogue days, when a meeting included evangelicals they would regularly demand moving from worries about sacramental fellowship to more interesting matters.

So what do we do now? I think the first thing is to remember that we pray for something we will not do: “thy Kingdom come.” God will take care of that, and when he does he will sort out his Church in ways that will surely surprise us. It may happen any minute, so let us keep on praying for the unity of the Church.

If there is to be a long meantime, perhaps we may suppose that God will be up to something in it.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Christology, Church History, Ecclesiology, Ecumenical Relations, Episcopal Church (TEC), Lutheran, Other Churches, Theology

As Lutherans Exit Pews in Brooklyn Church, Arab Christians Move In

Hymns echoed down the stairwell on a cold December morning. But they were not in English, or in the Norwegian of the Knudsens, Pedersens and other long-dead Scandinavians who are commemorated on the faded stained-glass windows.

Downstairs the descendants of the Norwegians continued to worship as they have done for decades at Our Saviour’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Brooklyn’s Bay Ridge neighborhood.

But the Arabic prayers and responses heard upstairs were from a newer congregation that shares the building. The Salam Arabic Lutheran Church has become a home for Arab Christians, many of whom fled the Middle East. Some escaped violence in Syria and Iraq. Others say life was made difficult by armed gangs, kidnappers and extortionists, jihadi extremists or Israeli soldiers and settlers.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Foreign Relations, History, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Lutheran, Middle East, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Politics in General, Preaching / Homiletics, Religion & Culture, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues

Retired Lutheran bishop serving as interim rector at St. John's, a TEC parish in Iowa

The Rev. Michael Last, retired bishop of the Western Iowa Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, has been called as the interim rector of St. John’s Episcopal Church.

Last, 67, began his new position on Nov. 1.

The previous rector, the Rev. Wendy Abrahamson, left at the end of April to become rector at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Grinnell.

Read it all and the parish website is here.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Ecumenical Relations, Episcopal Church (TEC), Lutheran, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, TEC Parishes

(Citizen-Times) Rob Neufeld looks start of churches in Western North Carolina

“In the western section of the diocese,” the Rev. John Stark Ravenscroft told North Carolina Episcopalians in 1825, “the prospect (of advancing the faith) is very discouraging, though not without hope.”

“Spiritual destitution” is how Bishop Levi Silliman Ives characterized our region’s religious landscape 19 years later, though the physical landscape was “beautiful and striking, far beyond my powers of description.”

Methodists, Baptists and Presbyterians had made great spiritual progress in Western North Carolina as early as the 18th century. Samuel Edney, head of the Methodist church’s Swannanoa circuit, established the first camp meeting west of the Blue Ridge in what is now Edneyvillle in the 1790s; in 1797, the Rev. George Newton turned Asheville’s Union Hill Academy into a Presbyterian school named after him. The French Broad Baptist Church was organized in Henderson County in 1780, and regional churches formed the French Broad Baptist Association in 1807.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Baptists, Church History, Episcopal Church (TEC), Lutheran, Methodist, Other Churches, Presbyterian, United Church of Christ

To Stave Off Decline, Churches Attract New Members With Beer

With mainline religious congregations dwindling across America, a scattering of churches is trying to attract new members by creating a different sort of Christian community. They are gathering around craft beer.

Some church groups are brewing it themselves, while others are bring the Holy Mysteries to a taproom. The result is not sloshed congregants; rather, it’s an exploratory approach to do church differently.

Leah Stanfield stands at a microphone across the room from the beer taps and reads this evening’s gospel message.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Alcohol/Drinking, Evangelism and Church Growth, Lutheran, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Young Adults

(RNS) Cathy Grossman–Mainline Protestants: Vintage or vibrant?

Half a century ago, the denominations under the mainline umbrella dominated the American faith landscape. Now, after decades of declining numbers, only about one in five U.S. adults identifies with a mainline denomination such as United Methodists, the Episcopal Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Presbyterian Church (USA) and American Baptists.

Could replacing the “mainline” name help stem the slide? The challenge came from scholar and Presbyterian pastor Carol Howard Merritt. Writing in the venerable Christian Century magazine, she called for a new brand that conveys her view of the mainline’s rising diversity and social justice leadership.

“The image of an all-white, elitist church is not going to fly for generations to come,” said Merritt, an author and speaker who lives in Chattanooga, Tenn. “’Mainline’ was a good historic marker but the future needs to reflect who we are now.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Episcopal Church (TEC), Lutheran, Methodist, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Presbyterian, Religion & Culture, United Church of Christ

Nadia Bolz-Weber–Tattoos on the arms, curse words on the lips and a story of grace

“Any time you can take an insult and make it your own, it’s a win,” explains Bolz-Weber, who speaks in Winnipeg Friday, Oct. 4 and Saturday, Oct. 5.

And she’s not the only one who believes in transforming words, and even lives. On her recent book tour promoting her new bestselling memoir, Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner & Saint, the recovering alcoholic and former stand-up comic has attracted crowds of up to 900 people wanting to hear her story, and maybe share some of theirs.

“I think people are eager to have a whole life faith, to have the sacred story connected with their reality,” explain Bolz-Weber of the huge response to her book, which exposes her struggle with drugs and alcohol, her move to faith, and her efforts to stay there.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Canada, Lutheran, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry

(ACNS) Communiqué of the Anglican-Lutheran International Coordinating Committee

The Co-ordinating Committee studied the mandate given by the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) and the Anglican Communion. The focus of this work is to monitor and encourage existing Anglican-Lutheran relations, as well as to advance co-operation between the two Churches in areas where there are not yet any formal agreements. To enable the Committee to function as an encourager as well as a catalyst, the Committee has begun a process of mapping agreements, initiatives and projects in different regions. This mapping project is an ongoing task for the Committee and we urge Churches, in both communions, to provide information to further this task.

The Committee has also initiated a process promoting Anglican-Lutheran collaboration in the observance of the 2017 Reformation anniversary. As part of this the Committee intends to provide study material based around the official LWF theme Liberated by God’s Grace. This material would be designed to be used in joint Anglican-Lutheran study groups where both denominations are present as well as by separated groups. It is hoped that this material will relate to different ages and contexts. The purpose is to highlight that reformation is ongoing and that 16th century Reformation thoughts are relevant for Christians today. The Committee is locating this and all its work within the theological theme of communion in the mission of God.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, - Anglican: Primary Source, -- Reports & Communiques, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Ecumenical Relations, Lutheran, Other Churches, Theology

(Strange Herring) Anthony Sacramone–Is Anglicanism a Variant of Lutheranism?

It’s interesting that in the discussion of doctrinal incoherency, no one mentioned the Thirty-Nine Articles, perhaps because they’ve proved so inadequate a doctrinal foundation. Or perhaps the problem is that, as a 16th-century confessional statement, they no longer speak to the issues that are really shaking the Anglican Communion to its core today. (Although Reformed and Lutheran Christians would argue that their confessions are more than adequate in the 21st century, despite new and improved denominations popping up on a regular basis, not to mention disputes over how to interpret the confessions themselves: third use of the law, anyone? How about 2K theology?)

It seems to me that there are a couple of ways out of this mess, which undoubtedly have been tried and failed. But this is Anglicanism, so why let that stop us:

1. I don’t know what is demanded precisely of a prospective clergyman/woman in the CofE in regard to the Three Ecumenical Creeds. I doubt they are required to affirm them on all points in their literal sense, such that there is no hedging on the Virgin Birth, the Resurrection, Ascension, and coming Judgment. “Born of the Virgin Mary””“yes or no? “On the Third Day, He rose again from the dead, He ascended into Heaven””“yes or no?

Here’s one way forward: If the response begins with ”It all depends on what you mean by””” deny them ordination. I certainly would expect this to be the case in “continuing” Anglican churches.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Ecclesiology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Lutheran, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Theology

(Christian Century) Martin Marty–From declinism to discovery

Finitude, contingency, transience. These three linked words signal basic elements of what it is to be a human””and especially to be a historian. David Tracy, noted theologian and next door study-neighbor, taught me this connection, and I’ve let it color my life and scholarly preoccupations. It will help us interpret the almost reflexive use of the rubric “decline” in relation to the western Christian presence. Specifically, do a search for “mainline Protestant” and “decline” and you will get the picture, millions of times over.

Everything and everyone dies, is subject to accidents and change, and all human endeavor will pass and be forgotten. What can a church historian do with this obvious insight at such a time as ours? Given my parallel calling as a peregrinating lecturer, I use the vantage acquired there to try to sense the comings and goings of topics for inquiry. One way to measure public curiosity is to listen to questions asked after a lecture.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Episcopal Church (TEC), History, Lutheran, Methodist, Other Churches, Presbyterian, Religion & Culture, United Church of Christ

Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori–Greeting for the 25th Anniversary of the ELCA General Assembly

The challenges that both our Churches have experienced around issues of inclusion of all human beings in recent years have reminded us that God is always at work ”“ on us, within us, and among us. Some have judged our smaller numbers as faithlessness but it may actually be the Spirit’s way of pruning for greater fruitfulness. If we see ourselves standing at the foot of the cross, any such judgment will be far less important than our response. Jesus has given us to one another ”“ all of us ”“ and we will not live faithfully if we forget who it is we see or seek in those others. The body of Christ has need of all its diverse parts, working together, for the building up of God’s beloved community and creation.

Read it all and there is a Christian Post article there on this subject also.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Episcopal Church (TEC), Lutheran, Other Churches, Presiding Bishop

(Journal-Sentinel) After 125 years, Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Milwaukee holds its last service

Janet Engel knelt at the Communion rail at Bethlehem Lutheran Church on Sunday, tears welling in her eyes.

At 85, she’d built a lifetime of memories in this sacred space. She was confirmed here. She attended its grade school. Every Christmas, every Easter was celebrated in these pews.

And on Sunday, for the last time, Engel knelt to receive the Holy Eucharist here.

“It’s heartbreaking,” said Engel, who gathered with hundreds of current and former members for final services at Bethlehem, which closed its doors Sunday after 125 years.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Lutheran, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Urban/City Life and Issues

Trinity School for Ministry to Partner with the North American Lutheran Church

The North American Lutheran Church (NALC) has chosen to partner with Trinity School for Ministry to create a “Seminary Center” for the training of future NALC pastors. In a nearly unanimous vote on August 8, 2013, the Convocation of the NALC took action to establish a new North American Lutheran Seminary (NALS). This seminary will not be a degree granting institution, rather, it will partner with existing accredited seminaries to provide sound theological education for NALC students. Trinity will soon welcome a new NALS Seminary Director to its Ambridge, PA campus to oversee the formation of NALC students, whether at Trinity or at one of the Houses of Study that will be developed throughout North America.

Lutheran students will earn a degree from Trinity School for Ministry, taking the core courses required in the Master of Divinity (MDiv) curriculum. For some courses they will take Lutheran alternatives taught by NALC professors to ensure a solid foundation in confessional Lutheranism.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Ecumenical Relations, Lutheran, Other Churches, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology

(Juicy Ecumenism) Robert Benne–Lutheran Exceptionalism””from Hope to Decline

In the Halcyon days of the 1950s, Lutherans were considered by church historians and Lutherans themselves to be importantly different from both mainline Protestants and Evangelicals. They had, Robert Handy remarked in the 1950s, a stronger doctrinal base than Methodists, Episcopalians, and Congregationalists while they were more churchly””both liturgically and in appreciation of the whole scope of church history””than Evangelicals. They were expanding in numbers and influence. They had impressive leadership: Franklin Clark Fry, the President of the United Lutheran Church in America, appeared on the cover of Time magazine with the caption: “Mr. Protestant.” Exceptionally positioned as they were, mainstream Lutherans were expected to provide renewed Protestant vitality in America.

Ah, but it was not to be. While the two most conservative””the Wisconsin and Missouri Synods””bodies remained aloof from other Lutherans and from American life in general, the main body of Lutherans participated in mergers that seemed for a time to make them stronger. Many smaller ethnic churches joined into two new major churches in the early 1960s””the Lutheran Church in America and the American Lutheran Church. Like most American denominations, membership in all the Lutheran churches peaked at about 1965. Optimism about the future of Lutheranism in America abounded. That is, until the last merger produced the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America in 1988.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Lutheran, Other Churches, Religion & Culture

A Religious Legacy, With Its Leftward Tilt, Is Reconsidered

ome scholars with roots in more traditional churches caution against overstating the importance of liberal religion. The recent work on the subject is “a nice rebalancing of the historiographical ledgers,” said Mark Noll, a historian of religion at Notre Dame and a prominent evangelical intellectual. But for a tradition to have any continuing influence, he added, it needs committed bodies in the pews.

That point is seconded by Ms. Coffman, who worked as an editor at Christianity Today before entering academia. She currently teaches at the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary, a Presbyterian institution where pastors in training, she said, are less likely to be savoring their broad cultural victories than debating which elements of evangelical worship they should adopt to attract a viable congregation.

“I teach at a mainline seminary, and we do not feel very triumphal,” Ms. Coffman said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Education, Episcopal Church (TEC), History, Lutheran, Methodist, Other Churches, Presbyterian, Religion & Culture, United Church of Christ

Archbishop Hiltz says recent joint assembly ”˜Spirit-filled, spirit-led’ gathering

Archbishop Fred Hiltz described the recently concluded Joint Assembly as a “spirit-filled, spirit-led” gathering that can only strengthen the full communion relationship of the Anglican Church of Canada and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC).

“The very fact that these two churches, who have all kinds of challenges in front of them, were prepared to make this step to meet is really quite incredible,” said Hiltz, primate of the Anglican church. “What I saw through the Joint Assembly was a very positive, upbeat spirit.” The assembly was held July 3 to 7, at the Ottawa Convention Centre.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Ecumenical Relations, Lutheran, Other Churches

Barton Swain reviews Elesha Coffman's "The Christian Century + the Rise of the Protestant Mainline"

The first known use of the word “mainline” to describe the largest Protestant denominations and distinguish them from their growing evangelical and fundamentalist counterparts appeared in the New York Times in 1960””at the very moment when mainline Protestantism began its rapid decline. You don’t call something “mainline” or “mainstream” unless its supremacy is being disputed (think of the “mainstream media”). And the supremacy of older, more socially prestigious churches within American Protestantism was being directly disputed in the mid-1950s. It’s impossible to speak with precision about what constituted mainline Christianity, but in general the mainline churches de-emphasized doctrinal differences; were Northern and Midwestern rather than Southern; promoted social causes rather than personal conversion or repentance; and virtually always took the liberal line in politics. By 1960, liberal Protestantism enjoyed almost nothing of the authority that had seemed unassailable 15 years earlier.

In “The Christian Century and the Rise of the Protestant Mainline,” Elesha Coffman charts the half-century ascendancy of liberal Protestantism in American society from its beginnings in northern seminaries at the turn of the 20th century to its brief triumphant moment immediately after World War II, when it had no effective rival. She does this through the lens of the magazine that, in the absence of any formal governing body, was effectively this strand of Protestantism’s voice and conscience: the Christian Century.

Read it all (if needed another link is there).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Books, Church History, Episcopal Church (TEC), History, Lutheran, Methodist, Other Churches, Presbyterian, Religion & Culture, United Church of Christ

ELCA, Episcopal Church observe World Refugee Day

As the U.S. Senate continues to debate the bipartisan immigration reform bill introduced earlier this spring, leaders of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and The Episcopal Church commemorate World Refugee Day with a joint statement to “celebrate our churches’ shared commitment to welcoming the stranger through service, accompaniment and advocacy.”

In their statement the Rev. Mark S. Hanson, presiding bishop of the ELCA and the Most Rev. Dr. Katharine Jefferts Schori, presiding bishop of The Episcopal Church, wrote that the observance of the day is an “opportunity to examine the dire global and regional conflicts and persecutions that create refugees, and to celebrate the resilience and success of the former refugees who bless communities in our midst with the riches of their earned wisdom, energy and spirit.”

In 2000, the U.N. General Assembly declared that each June 20 would be dedicated to raising awareness about the situation of refugees throughout the world. According to the U.N. Refugee Commission, more than 45.2 million people were in “situations of displacement” around the world as of 2012.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Episcopal Church (TEC), Foreign Relations, Globalization, Lutheran, Other Churches, Politics in General

(Bap. Stan.) Vicki Brown–Denominations””dying or transforming into something new?

“Denominationalism is not dead but, increasingly, it’s only one of several options for organizing the church in America,” explained Baptist historian Bill Leonard, the James and Marilyn Dunn Professor of Baptist Studies and professor of church history at Wake Forest School of Divinity.

Increasing pluralism in the United States and the decreasing influence of Protestantism are forcing denominational leaders to ask hard questions about identity, viability and relevance.

Pluralism, “which Baptists helped put into place,” is becoming more normative, Leonard said. The rise of the “nones”””people with no connection to organized religion”” also plays into the challenges denominations face.

Gone are the days when communities formulated policy and activities around the church. “We are living through the death rattle of the Protestant privilege,” Leonard said.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Baptists, Disciples of Christ, Evangelicals, History, Lutheran, Methodist, Other Churches, Pentecostal, Presbyterian, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, United Church of Christ

(Sojourners) 'Here is the Steeple:' Church Leaders Take on Sexual Violence Within Their Walls

When it comes to leading denominational conversations on sexual violence, clergy across traditions express twin reactions: encouragement over the protocols already in place and the efforts of fellow advocates; and frustration with a culture of silence around sexual violence in the church. Despite strikingly different experiences across denominations ”” and church by church ”” the clergy, church staff, and seminarians who spoke with Sojourners are in agreement that addressing this issue in one’s own house is complicated at every level.

First, the good news: Several major Protestant denominations, across progressive and fundamentalist strains, subscribe to a practice of what the United Methodist Church calls “safe sanctuary” ”” a commitment to ensure their church buildings and leadership are free from sexual predators. These policies generally include running background checks on any volunteers working with children and establishing protocols (many developed by Marie Fortune and the Faith Trust Institute) for interpersonal interaction at the church.

These denominational policies are the first line of defense against abuse, particularly of children, in houses of worship. So what else, if anything, beyond this basic groundwork is needed from leadership?

This is where consensus breaks down, and in speaking with clergy and seminarians across denominations and traditions, various barriers and fear patterns were revealed.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Lutheran, Methodist, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Presbyterian, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Sexuality, TEC Bishops, Theology, United Church of Christ, Violence

(Courier-Journal) Albert Mohler: The ELCA as a Lutheran body is ”˜not a church’

Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President Albert Mohler says the nation’s largest Lutheran body is “not a church.”

He says the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America only lives up to a quarter of its name, citing the Southwest California Synod’s election of the first openly gay bishop in the denomination.

“It is by this act and by many prior acts distancing itself by light years from the actual faith and conviction of Martin Luther,” Mohler said in a Monday podcast. It has “demonstrated itself to be neither Evangelical nor Lutheran and, as G.K. Chesterton might say, not a church either. That just leaves them in America.”

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Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Lutheran, Other Churches, Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths), Theology, Theology: Scripture