Thursday, January 08, 2009

ILT Online Course

The Institute of Lutheran Theology invited Lutheran CORE leaders to lead a six-week course about the coalition for reform. The institute has archived the course and graciously made it available for all to watch. It is a good introduction to Lutheran CORE and the coalition's five goals: 1) The Authority of Word, 2) The Great Commission, 3) The Naming of God, 4) Marriage and Family, and 5) Working for orthodox reform in the Church. Here are links to the six sessions.

Lutheran CORE News - January 2009

By the Rev. Paull E. Spring
Lutheran CORE Steering Committee

By now you have probably learned the news. The ELCA Church Council has voted, in effect, to require only a simple majority vote at the 2009 Churchwide Assembly on proposals regarding the rostering of non-celibate homosexual pastors and ministers. We had hoped that the recommendation would be for a two-thirds vote on these important matters.

This recommendation for a majority vote will be a part of the rules of procedure for the Churchwide Assembly and will be voted on at the opening session of the assembly. The Churchwide Assembly will have to approve this provision. The assembly can change this provision if it wishes to do so.

It is an outrage that a vote on the ordination of active homosexuals might be determined by a simple majority of the voting members at a Churchwide Assembly. This is an issue that has troubled our church for many years. It is a scandal that a simple majority of voting members might overturn Biblical teaching and centuries of Christian ethics on marriage and sexuality. A majority vote on such an important matter is hardly the way to achieve consensus and harmony within the church.

Lutheran CORE will, of course, develop a strategy and will attempt to amend the recommendation to add a provision calling for a two-thirds vote. However, this will not be easy to accomplish.

Regardless of how the vote on the rules of procedure goes, we will develop a strategy when the issue of rostering practicing gays and lesbians comes to the floor. We will do our best, and we are sure that our partner movements will be there with us.

Along with our partners and supporters, we will work hard to maintain the standards for ministry that are presently a part of "Vision and Expectations" and "Definition and Guidelines for Discipline." However, the possibility of only a majority vote makes it easier to change the ELCA's standards--which was the clear intention of a majority on the Church Council.

In the meantime, there are some things you can to do to help. The Conference of Bishops meets on March 5-10 and the Church Council meets on March 27-30. We encourage you to write to your bishop about the council's recommendation for a simple majority rule. Express your dismay over the council's recommendation and ask your bishop to bring this before the Conference of Bishops in March to encourage the bishops to recommend to the Church Council that it propose a two-thirds rule.

Write to your synod council with your concern about the council's decision and request your synod council to ask the Church Council to propose a two-thirds rule. If possible, your annual congregational meeting might be an opportunity for your congregation to pass a resolution that calls for a two-thirds vote on all matters relating to sexuality at the 2009 Churchwide Assembly. You could send the congregational letter to your bishop and to the ELCA Church Council.

It is important for as many synodical and churchwide leaders as possible to hear the grave concern throughout the church about the council's recommendation.

Lutheran CORE will be providing sample resolutions that you can use at your synod assemblies next spring, so look for those in February on www.lutherancore.org.

God alone knows the outcome of the 2009 ELCA Churchwide Assembly. To be sure, God's Spirit may breathe his Word anew into the hearts of our leaders and the voting members at the assembly. Synod assembly resolutions, which we are in the process of developing, may have an impact. There may well be a strong reaction from the "grass roots" of our church's membership, once they realize what is afoot.

Some of our leaders and voting members may realize the serious ecumenical implications, should the ELCA change its standards for the ordained ministry. Already Roman Catholic Church leaders and leaders within the African Lutheran community are voicing strong--but thus far, quiet--opposition to any endorsement of a homosexual lifestyle by the ELCA.

Any of these developments is indeed possible. It is also becoming clear to us that Lutheran CORE, in tandem with our partner movements, needs to a plan for our ministry beyond the Churchwide Assembly in Minneapolis regardless of the assembly's decisions.

The Lutheran CORE Steering Committee meets in late January. I am confident that out of that meeting we will have a sense of direction for our ministry. Our partner movements have been asked to give us input into how they envision our future beyond the Minneapolis assembly. The recommendation on a majority vote for rostering changes makes our task an urgent one indeed.

God bless our ministry, and God grant us wisdom. We are called to be faithful above all else.

Pastor Paull Spring
Chairperson
Lutheran CORE Steering Committee