Why the Institute of Lutheran Theology for Seminary
January 31 – 2010
By John Graham
A new seminary has arisen among confessional Lutherans: the Institute of Lutheran Theology.While the school is new, its roots are old, grounded in the orthodox Lutheran tradition.I thoroughly enjoyed the first session as we jumped into learning, being challenged and getting to know the wonderful minds of the faculty and the eleven other students.For the spring term our student enrollment has grown to eighteen.One might think most of the professors had done this before, but this is not a surprise since many of the professors and administrators come from long, established seminaries.The reason I chose ILT for my pastoral seminary training is it is established on God’s Word as it is written in the Scriptures.Their sharply stated and insistently practiced principles, being solidly biblical, distinguish them from other seminaries, like those we find in the ELCA/ELCIC.This is a truly confessional Lutheran seminary.It is an honor and privilege to be trained at ILT.The faculty and staff are committed to training this coming generation of God’s faithful pastors.
ILT is an international seminary and a Pan-Lutheran seminary.Students come from Canada, the USA and even Cameroon.Many Synods and church organizations support or cooperate with the Institute of Lutheran Theology, including: Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ, Canadian Association of Lutheran Congregations, Lutheran Church Canada, Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, the Word Alone Network, The Lutheran Coalition for Reform and many congregations, individuals and seminarians from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada.ILT is representative of a movement, a reclamation of Lutheranism as part of an awakening of God’s faithful in North America.The commonality I’ve witnessed with those involved with ILT, despite being from all kinds of different backgrounds and circumstances, is we all are of like mind in following Christ despite any other power or influence of this world.The most basic mission and cause of ILT, proclaiming Jesus Christ and making disciples of all nations, has drawn together the finest individuals.
The technology of ILT is amazing.I sit, in the comfort of my home office, in a virtual classroom with the rest of the students and the professor.We see one another, as in ‘Hollywood Squares’, speaking and hearing, seeing and being seen, put together in time and space by inexpensive, easy to use technology.We may not be able to physically touch one another, but we can type chat about what the professor is saying without moving our lips!By this technology and structure there was no need to up-heave my family from our home and move to a new city, with new jobs etc.So much can be said of the sheer convenience of this technology, economically and comfort-wise, but the technology also allows for high-tech multi-media learning, with multiple levels of interaction among students.In both quality and cost, the technology of the Institute of Lutheran Theology gives it a definite advantage as a place of learning.
It was initially a painful decision to attend seminary at ILT, because it is not the seminary of my specific denomination, the ELCIC.It was a bit of a leap of faith, though with the information I now have it didn’t have to be.Many of my pastors in the ELCIC advised me to not go to the designated seminary of our Synod for reasons of both prominent and heterodox teachings.Being a member of the ELCIC, my Synod did say I must attend seminary in Saskatoon in order to be ordained.Although that information affected me a lot, it was disinformation.Even the Bishop of our Alberta and NW Territory Synod came to us with a different Synod background.It is common for pastors to join the ELCIC who were educated in different seminaries and are from different backgrounds.It should never have been the case that I considered allowing denominational politics to prevent me from getting the very best seminary education possible.Taking this leap of faith opened me up to a world of Christians who likewise refuse to allow denominational politics to inhibit the unity of Christ’s body in any way.In this way ILT opened up more opportunities for ministry than I would have had strictly in the ELCIC.Yet, as a member of the ELCIC and one who loves God’s people in it, I am overjoyed to be getting the best seminary training possible to serve God’s church.It is for sharing this joy that I write this article for you.
As a confessional Lutheran seminary, the Institute of Lutheran Theology has arrived as a major player in the Lutheran church.It is a viable, readily available and superior option for both seminarians and congregations who wish to help train God’s faithful to be pastors.It might also be mentioned that high-quality lay-courses are also offered by ILT to congregations and individuals.One such lay-person in Canada commented on a specific course, “the lessons are illuminating and very beneficial.”The benefits received also include the ability for a congregation to sponsor a candidate of their choice, even someone from their own congregation, to be trained as their pastor.Providing faithfully educated pastors for God’s church in the future is critical to the health and success of the church’s mission.ILT and its networks are here to support and work with individuals, congregations and denominations to further the Gospel of Jesus Christ on earth.
For more information about the Institute of Lutheran Theology, its biblical principles or to make a donation, please go online towww.ilt.org .
Well, what we have all been waiting for is here! The ELCIC Study of Human Sexuality Document was released a few weeks ago. The National Church has invited all members to study it (Canada Lutheran, October/November 2009) and provide feedback before February 28, 2010. We would encourage you to take the time to read it, either as a group or individually and send your responses to the ELCIC.
Rev. Dr. Peeter Vanker, having already reviewed it, shares his thoughts with us......
It seems that the central thrust of the Study is found in Session 6, “Orientation” (Subtitle: “Sexuality and Orientation”). That session is preceded by two sessions, both essentially on the theme of justice, via “Families” (Subtitle: “Justice and Healing in Families”, and “Justice” (Subtitle: “Sexuality, Justice and Healing”). These three sessions reveal some of the key premises which are embedded in the study. I would like to consider those premises and offer my critique.
One of the premises embedded in the study seems to be that human sexuality is inexorably linked with the issue of social, political as well as personal justice. Many of the arguments focus on the social and political rather than on the personal sphere. The study would therefore have the reader simply proceed from the premise that the issue of human sexuality, whether in the social, political or personal realm has to be considered largely in the context of power and discrimination.
Another premise seems to be that the Scriptures are not a particularly helpful vehicle in a study of human sexuality because the ancient Scripture writers were unaware of modern social, political and cultural changes, and especially of the modern notion of sexualorientation.
A further premise is that sexual orientation is geneticalthough there has as yet been no definitive proof one way or the other. As Merton P. Strommen notes in his 2001 book, The Church and Homosexuality: Searching for a Middle Ground (p. 28), “Today’s most respected researchers say only that genetics may contribute a predisposition to a homosexual orientation. They generally agree that homosexuality – like most other psychological conditions – is due to a combination of social, biological, and psychological factors.”
A still further premise is that sexual orientation isirreversible. We note, however, the article by H. MacIntosh (1994) in the Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association cited by Merton P. Strommen in his book (p. 63) which reports that having analyzed 1,215 homosexual patients, “23 percent changed to heterosexuality from homosexuality and 84 percent of the total group received significant therapeutic benefit.”
The range of theological positions within the ELCICseems to be fairly presented in Session 6. However, the implication of such widely divergent and, I would argue,irreconcilable positions are not pursued except to suggest that the members of the ELCIC simply accept this reality. Furthermore, the ELCIC will allow members to opt out of specific situations as one’s conscience dictates. AsarguesSession 1, The study therefore appears to be institutionally “self-serving”, for the ultimate goal of the study is to maintain institutional unity at all cost.
Certain themes are chosen for the various sessions of the study which will further this goal. I have already alluded to the disproportionate amount of attention paid to the issue of justice.
There is a session on sin. However, the session on sin focuses largely on social, political and systemic sin and notpersonal sin.
A glaring omission is the absence of a session emphasizing repentance and personal transformation. There is no session which deals with the challenge to every believer to consider his/her need for a personal transformation in light of the entire spectrum of sins cited throughout the Scriptures, including the references to homosexual behaviour (e.g. Rom. 1, etc.).
It may seem at first glance that the study is centered onand flows fromthe Scriptures, for each of the sessions begins with a Scriptural passage. On closer inspection, however, it becomes clear that it is not the Scriptures buthuman experiences and personal views (“story telling”), along with social and political developments that occupy center stage and with respect to discussions about human sexuality at many of our national and Synodical conventions, this has also been the methodology used.
Because of the methodology chosen, the Scriptures play only a tangential and secondary role. In contrast to the lengthy sections on social and political justice issues in the study, there is, for instance, relatively little attention devoted to a re-examination of the key passages of both the Old and New Testaments that relate to human sexuality (marriage, family, children, etc.), including the Genesis account, nor to the negative behaviours cited in the Scriptures (extra-marital, pre-marital, divorce, etc.) which destroy individual marriages and family relationships.The study clearly reveals that tare not to be considered the ultimate“authority” , but merely one of the possible authorities.
I would question, finally, the decision of the ELCIC not to identify the members of the Task Force and the writer(s) of the Study.
The ELCIC Task Force's invitation to provide feedback on the Study document they have prepared is quickly receiving responses. This paper is intended to guide and initiate individual and congregational input into the first draft of a new Human Sexuality Social Statement.
Rev. Dr. K. Glen Johnson served as President of Camrose LutheranCollege/Augustana University College for 28 years. As Pastor of Ascension Lutheran Church in Calgary, Pastor Johnson, along with his Church Council have prepared their response to the Study.
RESPONSE TO THE ELCIC STUDY ON HUMAN SEXUALITY
From Pastor K. Glen Johnson And
The Church Council of Ascension Lutheran Church.
The study is long but the response will be relatively brief.
In response to the Theological Lenses that form the basis for the study we were dismayed to see that following The Bible, Human Experience was next listed as foundational; listening to one another. While listening to one another is important, the one to whom you listen to is far more important. Human feelings and experiences do not belong in the foundation. A better list of foundations is stated below.
1.The Holy Scripture, the Word of God, is to be our only authority in matters of faith and life and we are to be guided by our Lutheran understanding of Justification and the proper distinction between the Law and the Gospel.
2.The Confessions of the Lutheran Church are important because they conform to the Word of God and most carefully articulate the faith of the Church and its implications for all of life.
3.Tradition; and by tradition we mean the faith and the teaching of the Church Catholic throughout the centuries, very important to Luther and the reformers.
4.The Ecumenical Witness. If we wish to listen to voices we must first listen to the voices of the Ecumenical Community, the Roman Catholic, the Orthodox, and the Evangelical Communities. If we do not listen to them in the study of human sexuality we declare that we ourselves are not ecumenical and would rather be led by the voices of our culture. Our congregation recently sponsored the publication of the papers from two ecumenical and international commissions, Banff and Jasper, dealing with all these issues.
5.The voices of children. A recent article in MACLEANS Magazine identified ten ways to salvation, to the saving of the earth. Among the ten they listed contraception because according to them too many babies produce too much CO2. In the study you commend contraception but make no mention of abortion, leading one to believe that you consider abortion to be equivalent to contraception.
Last year there were 12,195 abortions in Alberta alone. There were about one million abortions in North America last year, the equivalent of two such deaths every minute of the day and of the night. In those cases where they were pulled out alive and perhaps strangled, we may have heard one of their voices. But every one of these children’s voices are being heard by Almighty God as they cry out from the ground. We simply close our minds to the Abortion Holocaust and refuse to listen to and be moved by the voices that God hears, both day and night. And we say that we are studying human sexuality?
The study very much resembles the ELCA Social Statement and utilizes Timothy Wengert’s concept of the bound conscience, although there are, in stating the positions on same sex blessings, three rather than four options for bound consciences listed. The only bound conscience we are to listen to and honor is that conscience that is bound, not to human trust and unity as the ELCA study says, but to the truth and the Word of God. It appears that you simply want everyone to agree to disagree so that the blessings and marriages and ordinations in same-sex relationships can be accepted. The study has been arranged to accommodate the gay agenda and overlook the truth.
“Listen, you nations of the world; listen, to the Word of the Lord.” This study is essentially devoted to lead us to listen to one community only, and not the Word of the Lord.
One of the questions, often raised by those in disagreement with an institution or entity that they previously have supported, is whether or not it is appropriate and faithful to use the redirection of financial support away from that institution or entity as a means to influence policy.
Pastor Steven E. King addresses this question in his article entitled, "Everything I Learned about the Redirection of Financial Support, I Learned from the ELCA."
Everything I learned about the redirection of financial support,
I learned from the ELCA
October 26, 2009
Pastor Steven E. King
One of the questions, often raised by those in disagreement with an institution or entity that they previously have supported, is whether or not it is appropriate and faithful to use the redirection of financial support away from that institution or entity as a means to influence policy.
Having never been much of a political activist, my first encounter with this concept came in my seminary years. In describing the possible ways we would be able to allocate our pension funds as new pastors, we were introduced to what were called "social purpose funds" through the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Board of Pensions. These funds were set up by the ELCA specifically so that we could be assured that our money would not be invested in companies and institutions acting contrary to our church's faith position. At that time, the church was taking an active stance against the policy of apartheid by the government of South Africa, and "South Africa-Free" investments were popular as a way of applying financial pressure to that government.
When I attended the 2007 ELCA Churchwide Assembly in Chicago, I noted how the church endorsed this same strategy, by calling on the ELCA to use economic pressure and redirection of investments as a means to influence political policy in the Palestinian/Israeli conflict. Part of a larger memorial approved by that assembly asked: "To call upon the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America to underscore the call for economic initiatives by this church and its members in the "Peace, Not Walls' campaign. Such initiatives . . . could include: purchasing of products from Palestinian providers, and exploration of the feasibility of refusing to buy products produced in Israeli settlements. Also to be explored is the entire investment activity by this church."
In the discussion of the memorial, Rev. Rebecca Larson, executive director of the ELCA's Church in Society unit, was asked ifthe practice of using financial pressure as a means of influence fit with the ELCA's overall position and practice of stewardship.
"Larson explained, 'The recommendation is consistent with the churchwide strategy adopted by the 2005 Churchwide Assembly, particularly its economic stewardship section. The emphasis,' she explained, 'is on positive economic investment to help those most in need,'" according to the report of the ELCA Secretary, 2007 ChurchwideAssembly:Preliminary Minutes.
The ELCA has always recognized as an expression of legitimate and faithful stewardship the practice of reducing financial support to entities that do not reflect a church's faith position, and redirecting such funds to other entities that might better serve our faith mission.
Going all the way back to the 1999 social statement on "Economic Life- Sufficient, Sustainable Livelihood for All," the ELCA has been clear about the need to maintain the connection between financial decisions and faith perspective, saying: "We commit ourselves as a church and urge members to . . . integrate social values into our investment decisions."
Following the decisions of the 2009 ELCA Churchwide Assembly, I recommend that congregations consider this stewardship guidance in their budget planning for the coming year. As an expression of good stewardship, congregations should seriously consider whether the institutions, organizations and ministries they support through their benevolence dollars are in harmony to their local congregation's faith perspective. If a congregation finds itself in conflict with the values of an institution, that congregation has an obligation to redirect its support to the needs of ministries that better share its own social values.
A letter from a faithful family in reaction to the ELCIC Sexuality Study........
Faithful family leaves ELCIC
October 19, 2009
Hi, My name is James R. Fiebelkorn.
I along with my wife and two daughters (ages 7 and 4) recently left the St. Paul Lutheran Church in Steinbach, Manitoba (ELCIC) which I attended since birth and has been the church of both my mother and fathers family for over 100 years. This move was difficult but the uncertainty of the ELCIC and a responsibility for the Christian education of my children required this change. We are still Lutheran but we have changed our membership to the LCC. We believe that the Bible is the inerrant word of God and can not entertain any other view or understanding. Your website in a large part assisted us in our decision to make a change as it provided resources and information that was not otherwise available or known. For this I am thankful.
Although we have left the ELCIC it does not change our concern for the church and so I am writing to you with my interpretation of what I read in the ELCIC Study of Human Sexuality. The closing analogy that I used was one I heard in a presentation given by your past president. "The particular analogy is the comparison of the present questioning of divine authority to that of the serpent doing so with Eve in the garden of Eden."
My first impressions of this study is that it is not a balanced discussion and that it seeks to outline a case for the affirmative in terms of the acceptance of "same sin blessing" rather than to have a balanced discussion. I found some of text in session 6 to be all telling.
This is a direct quote from the session 6 documentation from the ELCIC website. we do not live in a world of ideals; we live in a world of realities. And one of the realities of our world is that people with other-than heterosexual orientation exist. Biblical writers were probably unaware of this fact, or at least did not have the understanding that we do today about the complexity of human sexuality. Thus we need to make room for a different appraisal of same-sex sexual activity in the church today. We ought to accept that ethical deliberation in the realm of sexuality can be ambiguous. Indeed, our call to love and accept each other as sinners forgiven by God, combined with our sense of mission to extend God's love towards all people, compels us to take steps toward affirming and supporting people in same-sex relationships.If the above quote is held to be true, and if as a church the Bible is accepted as the inerrant word of God Then it follows that according to the writer of the study, God was apparently un-aware of the existence of other than hetero-sexual orientation. Therefore, if the writers view is that our creator was unaware of this, the only logical conclusion, is that this activity could only have been conceived by the some power other than God whom we know to be that old serpent the devil himself. If that is the case, rest assured God was aware of what his enemy was up to.
These issues that the ELCIC feels compelled to discuss really comes down to the answering the question. "Do I accept the Holy Bible as the inerrant word of God? I got to hand it to the old Adam on this one, it is like a return to the Garden of Eden when the serpent uttered those words to Eve. "Did God really say that? This is the real issue at hand. Once this fundamental belief has been shattered, every other taboo since the beginning of time is now open to re-evaluation. Where will this road end? Or is it to the end of the road that this quest will lead?
My understanding is that God forgives the sinner who recognizes that they have sinned. God rejoices when a sinner repents of their sins. The key here is that repentance is part of the equation. We all sin and to God all sin is the same. How can there be forgiveness if a sin is no longer recognized or defined as a sin? How can there be forgiveness when the church elects to bless a sin?
May God's Grace and strength be with you as you continue to fight for his word.
Reflecting on the transitions he has seen and experienced in the church he has served for many years, Rev. Dr. Lothar Schwabe is challenged to "rethink the nature of the church".
THE CHURCH AS AN ORGANIZATION
October 16, 2009
I grieve about what is happening in my church denomination. I loved and respected my church when I was ordained as a pastor of the UnitedLutheranChurch in America which later became the LCA, and then the ELCIC. I was proud of my church and was even guilty of thinking that, because of our Lutheran theology, my church was so much better than other churches. I was a “company man” in promoting the wellbeing of my church as an organization. I sought to strengthen the organization of my church by teaching pastors the ministry of management. As a consultant I helped congregations, synods, and our national church to have mission statements and clear goals and directions.
Now, that I have been humbled and greatly disturbed by recent actions at church conventions both in Canada and the USA, I am taking another look at my church denomination as an organization.
My church is not just the “church”.My church is also an organization that has all the faults that go with being a human institution. My church is just as concerned about money and numbers as any business or organization. My church depends upon the quality of its leadership and human resources just as much as any corporate structure. My church employs political manipulation as much as any other organization that is concerned about its survival. My church is influenced by cultural trends and changes as much as any political party or institution.
I began my ministry in a Lutheran denomination that had presidents elected for a term as the leaders of our synods and national church. Then I had bishops who were elected for a term after which they were known again as pastors. Now I have bishops that are elected and then ordained to be bishops for life. I worry that there is a trend away from the power of our church residing in our congregations to a church that wields hierarchical authority. I worry about symbols of earthly power creeping into our church that are rooted in theRoman Empire rather than in Scriptures. I worry about pomp and circumstance distracting from the authority of the inspired Word of God. I am terrified by the trend to have conventions decide on what parts of Scripture we are to accept as authoritative. My church has changed in its approach to Holy Scriptures. That is the most troublesome part for me.
A theology that does not respect “the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments as the inspired Word of God, through which God still speaks and as the only source of the Church’s doctrine and authoritative standard for the faith and life of the Church” deteriorates into religious propaganda that serves those who pay the bill.
To say that my church is not the same any more is an understatement. I am therefore compelled to rethink the nature of the church.
Reformers like Luther and Calvin distinguished between the “visible church” and the “invisible church”. I find that a helpful distinction. The visible church is the human organization. The invisible church consists of all believers who confess Jesus as Lord and Saviour. The visible church contains the invisible church but does not represent the invisible church in all its functions. The visible church is subject to all the weaknesses of a human organization. Nor can the invisible church, consisting of true and faithful believers, be contained in any one denomination. I agree with those theologians, including Karl Barth, who state that a true invisible church as an organization that is pure and free from human weakness is not attainable.
No church organization is perfect. All reform movements, including the Reformation, the Haugian movement or German pietism were fading after one generation and began to show the weaknesses of any human organization. Yet, such reform movements were necessary cycles of renewals.
My denomination is not an end in itself but rather a means to an end. The “end” is the holy catholic church, the communion of saints that follows Jesus in many denominations. We need the church organizations, human as they are, to accomplish some things together that we could not accomplish by ourselves. But we also have to remember what is needed for our salvation as stated by Paul in Romans 10:9, “if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord”, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” The insistence of any church that salvation depends upon church membership in a particular denomination has more to do with promoting brand loyalty than with theology.
Churches have always been at their best when they were more of a movement than an organization. The early Christian church, as documented in the book of Acts, had little formal organization. Followers of Jesus met to pray, share God’s Word and to break bread.There was much “saltiness” (Matthew 5:13) among followers of Jesus in the time before Christianity became the official religion prior to Constantine in 315 A.D.
Jesus defined the basic church as, “For where two or three come together in my name, there I am with them” (Matthew 18:20). The true “church” exists wherever people follow Jesus. The church can be found in house churches in China and among faithful members in any Christian denomination. It exists among faithful Roman Catholics, Baptists, Lutherans, Pentecostals, and wherever committed Christians gather in the name of Jesus.The Holy Spirit is still like the wind that blows wherever it pleases (John 3:8) and cannot be contained in any one organization.
It does not make any sense to have any number of competing denominations make the claim to be the true church of Jesus more than other denominations. It would be more helpful to label them as “church organizations”. Thinking of a church as an organization makes it easier to accept the human and sinful aspects of any denomination. There are true Christians in any denomination, and there are even true Christians, who do not belong to any formal denomination as in Siberia, Africa, China, and even in North America.
It is understandable that any denomination or church organization would like their followers believe that they are the only true church or at least the better church. But the truth is that they represent the true church only when the true word of God is proclaimed and the sacraments are rightly administered. Organized churches do not represent the true church in many activities that are motivated by very human and sinful desires.
To see how much church organizations are preoccupied with maintaining their own organization rather than being engaged in mission one only has to look at where a congregation or denomination spends their money. Very few even spend 10% of their budgets on mission work that does not benefit their own organization.
In any church organizations are those who speak out against the wrong committed by their church. These voices of conscience are most valuable to any church. In some cases the wrong committed by a church organization causes people or congregations to leave their church organization. They are not leaving the invisible church, the holy catholic church. They do not harm the unity of the invisible church. They struggle to find another church organization in which they can grow in faith and serve the Lord with gladness. Where charity reigns, a church organization can understand the concerns and struggles of those who are leaving. Blessing rather than condemning those whose conscience leads them to separate would add credibility to their claim that they are motivated by Christ’s love. Likewise, those leaving their church organization for another church organization must do so in a spirit of humility, continuing to pray for their former denomination.
The true church cannot be split because she has no boundaries.Church organizations can be split such as when the Eastern Orthodox church split from The Roman church in 1054 or when the Lutheran church was established apart from the Roman Catholic church.
Calling a church denomination a “church organization” rather than “the church” would be more helpful and save us the embarrassment of having our Lord Jesus blamed for some of the wrongs done in His name by a church organization.
Our denomination enters a difficult period of time. How much effort will be spent on damage control to minimize the losses of membership? The current battle seems to be focusing on the “undecided”. We will increasingly hear pleads for the “unity of the church”. It seems to me that the whole concern about not splitting the church has more to do with shrinking offerings than with a concern for the spiritual welfare of souls. Church administrators are voicing concerns about a decreasing financial support.
Church officials may be banking on many members staying with their denomination because of the social ties that keeps them in their congregations. If so, they will likely be correct. Many, especially the older members, will quietly suffer the change in direction that their denomination is taking. They feel that they are simply too old to start all over again and they do not want to be separated from their friends.
My invisible church is a church without borders. It consists of saints who are also sinners and are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. I am also a member of a church organization. I became a Christian outside a church organization some years before I joined a denomination. I wonder, where I will end up?
The church of Jesus Christ will survive and thrive. I have never seen as much interest in theology among our lay people as I have seen in recent years. It appears to me that the Holy Spirit is leading us into another Reformation. Thanks be to God!
This is an indication of how the Eastern Synod of the ELCIC (as a organization acting in Christian love) treats a congregation that has left the ELCIC.
Letter to Eastern Synod Clergy
October 16, 2009
On June 21, 2009 , Faith Lutheran Church Downsview officially severed its relationship with the ELCIC.
Subsequently the congregation has joined the Canadian Association of Lutheran Churches (CALC) and Lutheran Churches in Mission for Christ (LCMC). Our church has no formal relationship with either of these bodies, indeed, each can be fairly described as being engaged in activities that are potentially harmful to our common well-being.
As a consequence of these actions, it is no longer appropriate for ELCIC pastors to provide Word and Sacrament ministry to this congregation. The only exception to this would be instances where you were asked to provide emergency pastoral care related to a death or serious illness.
While it deeply saddens me that Faith congregation has made this decision, it is important that we accept their decision and allow them to proceed along their chosen path.
Following the super-majority approval (66.67% to 33.33%) of a new social statement on Human Sexuality by the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America's Churchwide Assembly earlier this week, the delegates yesterday passed 4 recommendations to change policy and practice in the church body.
The new recommendations approved by this Convention will allow “blessing of same sex unions”,and “ordination and rostering of homosexuals” in long-term, monogamous relationships to serve in the pastoral ministries of the church. This is a marked shift away from the clear teachings of the Scriptures held by the majority of Christians in the world.
This will certainly have a great impact on the people of the ELCIC as our social statement, due to be introduced at our national convention in Saskatchewan in 2011, has the same intention, to allow “blessing of same sex unions”, and “ordination and rostering of homosexuals”.
Lutheran CORE leaders are inviting faithful Lutheran congregations and individuals to direct funding away from the “national church body” because of the decisions made this week by the Churchwide Assembly. Lutheran CORE will participate in and support faithful ELCA ministries, but, cannot support ELCA ministries that reject the authority of God’s Word.