As we head into the extended Thanksgiving weekend, here are a few bits of miscellany.
Under the category, “Much ado about nothing”, The ELCA NE Iowa synod council made news this week by passing two resolutions contrary in spirit to the actions of the 2009 Churchwide Assembly, as if to say “don’t force gay clergy on us.” Pastor Joelle from the synod suggests in her blog that the congregations of her synod need not worry:
I don’t see a bunch of leaders in same sex relationships chomping on the bit to come here. I don’t see a lot of pastors, period, chomping at the bit to come here.
It is a bit of a head-shaker why congregations would fear that a gay cleric would willingly go to an inhospitable environment. Ministry is difficult enough as it is. I think it speaks to irrational paranoia and conspiracy theory.
Blogger Susan Hogan at Pretty Good Lutherans has a post with a lively discussion about this news from Iowa.
Under the category, “The squeaky wheel gets the grease”, Minnesota Public Radio is soliciting information about the ELCA / Lutheran Core issues through an online survey. They are apparently hoping to present a major story. As a survey participant, I received a preliminary report, to wit (emphasis added):
Over the past four days, more than 1,200 Lutherans (150+ of whom are pastors or retired pastors) from all over the U.S. and beyond have written us about why you will or will not remain in the ELCA, and how a church split would affect you, your congregations, and your communities.
We’re overwhelmed at the response. Clearly (though not surprisingly), this is an issue that matters deeply to you. Thank you for being willing to talk with us about it.
We’re now reading through responses and planning reporting around what we’re reading (and may contact you again in the upcoming weeks and months to ask you for further insight).
Of the people who wrote to us, most said they haven’t considered leaving the church over the ELCA’s stance allowing people in committed same-gender relationships to be pastors. In fact, many were concerned that we are giving too much attention to those who want to leave, rather than focusing on the story that most individuals and churches plan to stay with the ELCA. Some wrote to say that this change will bring them back to the church, or keep them from leaving.
People who have considered leaving or have already left the ELCA said they can’t be part of a church that disobeys God.
Many, many people would be deeply saddened should the church split. Some said losing congregations would impair the ELCA’s ability to do missions work overseas (though one person stated he now can evangelize gay friends here in the U.S. without feeling like a hypocrite).
Under the category, “Women who seek to be equal to men lack ambition”, comes word that a monk has been suspended for ordaining women. What, you thought I was talking about Catholicism? Turns out that Buddhism suffers from the same streams of misogyny as Christendom. Regarding the Vatican’s ballyhooed survey of American nuns, considered by many as an attempt at repression, a post in National Catholic Reporter tells us that the women religious are resisting:
The vast majority of U.S. women religious are not complying with a Vatican request to answer questions in a document of inquiry that is part of a three-year study of the congregations. Leaders of congregations, instead, are leaving questions unanswered or sending in letters or copies of their communities’ constitutions.
“There’s been almost universal resistance,” said one women religious familiar with the responses compiled by the congregation leaders. “We are saying ‘enough!’ In my 40 years in religious life I have never seen such unanimity.”
It turns out that the present controversy in the ELCA is the fruit of ordaining women a generation or two ago … at least that is what some within the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS) or Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS) believe. In comments following a Lutheran Core blog post, CORE spokesperson Steven King acknowledged that the “justice” and “equal rights” analogies to women’s ordination can be problematic for LGBT ordination issues. But, he assures the anti-women’s-ordination commenter that “there are many Christians who base their understanding of the ordination of women on theological and biblical grounds.” He failed to mention that Biblical passages condemning women leadership are clearer than any supposed anti-gay passages. Hmmm. CORE appears to be Biblical literalists regarding LGBT issues but contextualists regarding women’s ordination. At least the LCMS and WELS are consistent.
Finally, I close with a wedding announcement. The Rev Laurie McNeill of Central Presbyterian Church of Newark has been ordained since 1989 and a former moderator of the PCAUSA Presbytery of Newark. At the conclusion of the Nov 14th Presbytery business meeting, Rev McNeill announced she had been married to Lisa Gollihue on Cape Cod on October 17th. The Presbytery unanimously voted to support her marriage despite official Presbyterian church policy against gay marriage or gay clergy. Stay tuned.