On March 8th, the ELCA Conference of Bishops, an advisory body consisting of the 65 regional synod bishops and headed by the ELCA Presiding Bishop, reached consensus on a draft document for welcoming pastors of the Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries (ELM) into the ELCA. The draft document will be reviewed and revised before reaching final form, which will then be sent to the Church Council for consideration and approval.
The draft document called for a rite that looks, feels, and sounds like ordination but without actually using that term. The press release didn’t clarify why the term “ordination” was deliberately not used. According to the press release:
“After formal approval these people would be received at a service of worship, (with) the laying on of hands and prayer by a synod bishop,” [New England Synod Bishop Margaret] Payne said on a behalf of a committee of bishops appointed to prepare the draft rite following a preliminary discussion by the conference March 6.
“All of us without exception felt it was utterly important and essential that there be the laying on of hands and prayer as a part of a rite,” she explained. “We know there are some people who would like to use the word ordination — we are not saying the candidates will be ordained — but we are suggesting that we use words in the authorized rite that replicate the promises of ordination, and will in fact be words from the ordination rite.”
I have previously blogged about ELM (click on this link and all prior posts will be listed), which has ordained Lutheran clergy to willing congregations despite the restrictions of the Visions and Expectations of ELCA ministry policies (which were the subject of the CWA09 resolutions for change). ELM’s website does not yet contain a response to the draft document nor does the Lutherans Concerned website.
I had barely published this post when I received a press release from LCNA. Here is the pertinent message:
Emily Eastwood, Executive Director, LC/NA, said of this weekend”s actions, “This discussion has been ongoing since the spring of last year. Some ELCA leaders in our church leaned heavily toward requiring reordination for the seventeen. Others engaged the process of discernment within the conference of bishops and beyond with compelling witness of the ministries of these fine pastors. The discussion was heartfelt, spirited, Spirit-filled, and tuned to the intersection of the mission of the church, the healing power of reconciliation and the full-communion agreements of the church. Debate turned to possibility. Anxiety to reconciliation. Reordination to reception. I am thankful, pleased, and most of all relieved that the ministries of these fine pastors will finally be recognized and received by the ELCA. Our thanks to the Conference of Bishops for their careful process and for their willingness to engage those of us most affected by their decision.”
BACK TO THE ORIGINAL POST:
However, some folks over at the “Friends of LCMC” were quick to offer their keen insights, such as:
Now I have a question, after reading this post and the consensus reached by all the ELCA bishops, does this really mean that if an ordained pastor wants to get married to his dog , pet goat, or pig that this is now allowed? Or even if an ordained pastor wants 3 or 4 wifes or husbands this will be accepted? Friends, I think we really need to be in prayer for these poor lost souls. How is it that 66 bishops can come to any kind of concensus on these issues ?
P.S. I thank our God we are not part of this mess. But I will pray for them.
And, the Friends over there also offered their congratulations about the news that the ELCA finances finished “in the black” last year.
So much for starving them into submission.
“news releases” like this used to get to me. It feels good to move on. We’re done with the ELCA and leave them to stumble through the darkness.
Not quite done with the ELCA, it seems, but we’re sure the day will come when good news from the ELCA won’t upset him so much.
Or another expressing his well-wishes for the ELCA,
Since there were only 5 months since the August Churchwide Assembly, very little of the lasting negative effects of that assembly show up in the 2009 results. The current year is likely to reveal the truth of the ELCA’s wayward ways. It’s not going to be pretty.