Well, Lutheran friends, there is a lot going on here in the Northwest and throughout the country regarding the current discussion and schedule of hearings on the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America draft social statement on sexuality. Although the dates, places and times for the synod hearings scheduled in the Northwest have been previously announced in national publications and on the ELCA website, I cite the schedule again for your information. I would encourage your attendance and active participation in these hearings wherever they are held in your area.
A joint hearing with the Northwest Washington and the Southwest Washington synods will be held this week on Saturday, Sept. 6, at Grace Lutheran Church, 22975 – 24th Ave. S., Des Moines, Wash., from 9:30 – 11:30 a.m. Telephone number of the church is (206) 878-2460.
Another hearing is scheduled next week on Saturday, Sept. 13, from 9:30 – 1:30 a.m. at the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd, 1601 North St. SE Olympia, Wash. Telephone number is (360) 357-3554.
These two ELCA hearings in the Northwest will provide excellent opportunities to hear, and be heard, on a topic that has provoked concern and controversy for the past 10 years on the trends and direction the ELCA might take. The multiple studies on sexuality have taken substantial time, effort and money to accomplish the decision of the 2001 churchwide assembly.
No matter whether your position is positive, negative or neutral on the results that might come from the study, these hearings constitute a momentous opportunity to be involved before the final report is presented. The ELCA has set Nov. 1 as the deadline for comments on the draft statement.
Two important WordAlone Network meetings will take place in the Seattle-Tacoma area before my next report for the WordAlone web site.
On Friday and Saturday, Oct. 17-18, 2008, the national board of the WordAlone Network will meet in Burien, Wash. at Glendale Evangelical Lutheran Church. The host church is Pastor Philip Lee and his congregation. The board meetings are open and you are welcome. If you are interested in attending, please call the church office at (206) 244-9400 to insure that adequate space is available to accommodate visitors.
You and friends are invited to an open meeting starting at 7 p.m. Oct. 17 at Glendale church to meet members of the board and staff who will be available to comment and answer your questions regarding the work and direction of the WordAlone Network and its affiliated organizations. I am proud and grateful for the privilege of serving on this network board and working with its members and an extraordinarily capable and dedicated staff, individually and collectively, to bring a recommitment to a confessional fellowship of Lutherans.
I would really like to tell you about each of our board members, but you can see them on the WordAlone web site (wordalone.org) and read articles by them, current or archived. And, even best of all, you can meet them personally at the Oct. 17 evening meeting at Glendale. On the network board are four ELCA Lutheran pastors, two attorneys, one Naval academy professor, two retired medical doctors, a retired corporate executive, a computer executive and myself, a retired schoolteacher and administrator.
Our president and director are ELCA pastors. The director also serves as the director of Lutheran CORE (Coalition for Reform). The main reason I cite my colleagues on the board of directors and the executives serving WordAlone is simply to acknowledge that I am amazed and astounded daily that these influential and gifted Lutherans would serve joyfully and willingly to maintain and advance the cause of the foundations of Lutheranism, sometimes in the face of criticism and negative inferences.
The second event sponsored by the Southwestern Washington WordAlone Network Chapter will take place from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 1, at First Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tacoma, Wash., hosted by Pastor Philip Nesvig. Invitations will be sent to the 350 persons on our mailing list, and public announcements will encourage others to attend. More information on details and agenda will be forthcoming to our local constituencies and audience.
If you are in the area, please join us. Our meetings are very informative and provoke good discussion on the current thinking and trends in the Lutheran church.
The Churchwide Assembly scheduled for August 2009 in Minneapolis comes more rapidly at us day by day. Resolutions and memorials from synod assemblies of 2008 and 2009; hearings on the draft social statement on sexuality; comments from ELCA members by the deadline set for Nov. 1; resolutions from annual congregational meetings; and, finally the recommendations of the sexuality task force and the ELCA Church Council to the 2009 Churchwide Assembly voting members will command the focused attention of all synods, congregations and members of the ELCA. I believe the future well-being of the ELCA is at stake.
Our Southwestern Washington WordAlone Network Chapter considered sending out a letter that outlines concerns regarding the future of our church. Bob Gee, treasurer of our chapter, was asked to compose a letter for members of our chapter board to look at and make comments on its content. This task required little on our part, and I asked Bob if I could use two or three paragraphs to show our website readers some of these thoughts.
With Bob’s permission here are three paragraphs from the letter:
Many in our church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, are feeling uneasy and uncertain about the direction our leadership is headed. Many of our Synods around the nation are asking us to change our basic policies regarding marriage and ordination, and as a result our basic view of the authority of Scripture.
Some, in their frustration have simply left the ELCA. They have gone to other churches that they consider more faithful to the Word. Entire congregations have left to join one of several new Lutheran associations which promise to base their faith and actions on the Bible and the Confessions of the Lutheran Church.
Then, there are some of us who have simply and quietly said, "This is my church. I will do all I can to save it." And so the WordAlone Network was born. We desperately want to keep the ELCA true to the Lutheran Confessions and to conform to the Word of God as expressed in the Bible. We feel strongly that when Luther said, "Sola Scriptura" (Word Alone), he was not just speaking to disgruntled Germans unhappy with Rome. He was reaffirming the word of Christ, "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away" (Matt.5:35). He was stating what Christians had for 14 centuries insisted upon, that the canonical scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are the inspired Word of God and normative for the faith, life and proclamation of the church; not some man-made secular program.
I believe that Bob has stated our case very well, and in language that is understandable.
I wrote my first resolution regarding marriage, ordination and the authority of the Scriptures in 2005. My purpose, then, as it is today, was to seek assurances from ELCA churches, synods and from the ELCA Churchwide Assembly that marriage according to the Scriptures is reserved as exclusively between one male and one female. Eminently unsuccessful at the congregational and synodical levels in passing my resolution with really good support, I moved on to try to write a resolution that would be acceptable. I have been reading resolutions written by others seeking to accomplish the same objective as I on marriage and ordination for the past few years, unfortunately none of which have passed I our area.
My local WordAlone chapter, reluctantly, but nicely, knowing my past efforts and lack of success in putting through a resolution for adoption, asked me anyway to write a proposed resolution for discussion and possible submission at the congregational or synod level in 2009. With your indulgence and patience I am including my proposed resolution for your review, evaluation, comments and recommendations, as you wish. Thank you for sending me any comments and suggestions as you read this proposed resolution. My email address is: email@example.com
Title – Reaffirming the Authority of the Holy Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions and Their Historical Foundation in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America
CURRENTLY, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, and for several years since 2001, has been undergoing various social and theological studies and discussions regarding the interpretation of our Holy Scriptures and the constitutional and confessional foundations of our church that we believe to be inspired by the Holy Spirit.
WHEREAS, it has become necessary to provide a firm and assertive statement of our commitment to our Lutheran heritage in the Inspired Word of our Holy Scriptures; the Confessions of the Lutheran Church; the Unaltered Augsburg Confession, together with the Bible as the source and norm of our life and faith; and Martin Luther’s Large and Small Catechisms as recorded in the Book of Concord,
WHEREAS, there is a desire to maintain the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America as one unified body under the banner of our Risen Savior, Jesus Christ and His Living Word of Truth,
AND WHEREAS, it is the sincere wish and fervent prayer of members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America to halt the continuing loss of both members and local Lutheran churches,
BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED, that (name of congregation or synod,) of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (at its 2009 congregational or assembly meeting) accepts and re-commits unequivocally by word and action to the foundational requirements of the ELCA’s confession of faith in its constitution and the policy, “Vision and Expectations: Ordained Ministers,” adopted in 1990 by the Church Council.