May 24, 2007
Political Activists Exposed
The national bishop in his report to the 2007 National Convention in a section entitled "Ecclesiology and Mission" (pages E-4 to E-5) does not specifically state who it is that he is attacking in his report. Some suspect that he is attacking those that who are taking a stand against the direction that he and the National Church Council are leading this church. Others have noted that his statements perfectly describe the rebellious and divisive behavior of the leadership of the Eastern Synod.
"independent owners of resources and authority"
Describes so well the motion put forward at the 2006 Eastern Synod Convention by the Eastern Synod Council to transfer ownership of church property from the congregations to the synod.
What a great way to describe the Eastern Synod Council's support of the action taken by the 2006 Eastern Synod Convention, which the National Church Council ruled as being "beyond its constitutional authority". The following statement contained in a letter from the Eastern Synod Council and bishop to a select group of pastors in 2003 reveals a foreknowledge that the 2006 Eastern Synod Convention's actions were beyond its authority: "Given the lack of a policy on the 'blessing' or 'marriage' of a same-sex relationship, our church's bishops have unanimously agreed that the act of 'marrying' or 'blessing' a same-sex couple, would constitute a breach of this official statement [Social Statement on Sex, Marriage and the Family]".
"undermine the covenant that we will account to the church for our stewardship of the gifts given us in baptism"
When one speaks of the "church" as a denomination we are a collection of congregations or churches where "the church exists among those who rightly teach the Word of God and rightly administer the sacraments" (Article XIV, Apology of the Augsburg Confession), who voluntarily choose to associate together around a common confession (Article II of the ELCIC's Constitution) in accord with the Word of God. A July 2003 letter regarding "Same Sex Marriage" from the national and synodical bishops (including Bishop Pryse) of this church, declared that, "For the sake of unity and good order of the church, it is important that any change in this practice (authorizing clergy to bless same sex relationships) be authorized by this church acting together". The Eastern Synod Convention by acting on its own on matters that should be authorized by "this church acting together" has undermined the covenant of this church denomination.
"a separatist political movement, its real agenda is the struggle for authority and control"
Despite the National Church Council having ruled that the action taken at the Eastern Synod Convention in regards to a local option for same-sex blessings was "beyond its constitutional authority", theEastern Synod Council defiantly declared "that the Eastern Synod had both the right and obligation to pass this motion". The Eastern Synod Council's endorsement of the unconstitutional action taken at the 2006 Eastern Synod Convention reveals a determination by the leadership of this synod to walk apart from this church if the entire church does not submit to its position on matters like same-sex blessings. If the National Church Council's synodical local option motion passes this summer at the National Convention (despite its unconstitutionality and conflict with this church's teaching), sadly it will give the leadership of the Eastern Synod absolute authority and control over the congregations in their synod. This will be so because the majority of the Eastern Synod pastors are aligned with the Eastern Synod Council's position on the matters before this church and occupy a majority position of the delegates at the synod conventions.
"It attempts to recruit church members to another set of social and cultural ends"
Well said! Those societal and cultural values are certainly not the values that we stood for at the time of our merger in 1986.
"Ordinary church members become confused because cultural and political opinions are being expressed as religious traditions"
Excellent! The leadership of the Eastern Synod expresses cultural and political opinions that are foreign to the majority of members of the ELCIC.
Yes, we must "take a stand against this splintering abuse of the church" and be firm on being grounded in Holy Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions.
- Rev. Dr. Lothar Schwabe