Skip to comments.Open Letter to ELCA Members
Posted on 11/19/2009 6:47:31 PM PST by lightman
Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand.
-- Romans 5:1-2a
November 19, 2009
Sisters and brothers in Christ of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America,
I greet you with the words of the apostle Paul to the Romans: "Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand" (Romans 5:1-2a).
Where does the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) stand today? We stand together in God's grace, but we are not standing still. We proclaim Jesus Christ and are fully engaged in this mission by actively caring for the world that God loves. God's mission is serious work that calls for serious commitment. We bring all that we are -- especially our rich diversity, our shared tradition and even our disagreements -- in service of God's mission.
We go forward in this mission trusting that "God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us" (Romans 5:5). Evidence abounds of the Holy Spirit being poured out upon us and through us:
* Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Naples, Fla., recently purchased land for a new ministry center. They also convened ELCA partners, seminaries, synods, and churchwide staff to envision together a vibrant, evangelical and multicultural Lutheran presence in southwestern Florida.
* Our new directors of evangelical mission, based in synods, are trained and ready to serve ELCA congregations that they might continue to grow as evangelical centers for mission.
* The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Malawi told Global Mission colleagues traveling in the region that they are ready to deepen their relationship with the ELCA so that together we can more generously and faithfully respond to malaria, HIV and AIDS. Andrea DeGroot-Nesdahl, ELCA coordinator for the Lutheran Malaria Initiative, writes, "The ELCA, especially through the Lutheran Malaria Initiative, will be part of a movement that changes the world. It's certainly going to change Malawi."
* In summer 2009, 37,000 youth, young adults and adult leaders attended the ELCA Youth Gathering in New Orleans. They spread throughout the city, wearing orange t-shirts in a witness of service that touched the hearts of residents and has them talking still. * ELCA chaplains Michael Lembke, Richard Brunk and Paul Dirksmeyer bore witness to God's mercy at Fort Hood, Texas. They ministered to families, friends and an entire nation grieving the tragic shootings at the nation's largest military base.
These are just a few examples. Think of the signs of the Holy Spirit being poured out in your life and in your congregation! Thanks be to God for this continued outpouring of the Spirit among us.
When the ELCA Church Council faced the reality of reduced financial resources for mission, it made a difficult but necessary 10 percent budget reduction. The decision, however, does not diminish our resolve and commitment to engage together in God's mission for the life of the world.
We will engage Christ's mission with everyone who stands together in God's grace, using the rich gifts that the Holy Spirit has poured into our lives:
* Together we will proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord in worship spaces and workplaces, in online conversations and around kitchen tables.
* Together we will develop new ministries in every synod in multicultural communities and among people living in deep poverty.
* Together we will raise up and welcome faithful, wise and courageous leaders by sustaining vital and creative seminaries and campus ministries. * Together we will send missionaries to accompany new and growing Lutheran churches throughout the world.
I invite you to deepen this conversation with me in an online town hall forum on Sunday, December 6, at 4:30 p.m. (CST); check www.elca.org for more details.
The apostle Paul wrote that where the Holy Spirit is poured out upon us, hope abounds and hope does not disappoint us (Romans 5:4-5). What a wonderful promise this is as we now enter the season of Advent! With our hope in Christ, we face the future together as the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, serving the world that God so loves.
Amen. Come Lord Jesus!
Mark S. Hanson Presiding Bishop Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
I doubt that ++Mark would desire to hear +Nicholas's admonition from the Britten cantata:
Preserve the living Faith for which yours fathers fought!
For Faith was won by centuries of sacrifice
And many martyrs died that you might worship God.
* as of August 19, AD 2009, a liberal protestant SECT, not part of the holy, catholic and apostolic CHURCH.
Personally, I'm still struggling with the decision. My knee-jerk reaction was very much against it. After some consideration I thought maybe we shouldn't be about judging others. One of the Pastors at my Church gave a very good sermon on this without coming right out and saying it was about this.
But then, I come back around to the notion that while we should love the sinner and hate the sin... I just cannot abide promoting what I feel is immoral and perverse behavior. Ordaining openly homosexual Pastors is nothing less than promoting the behavior. Granted, it isn't saying everyone should engage in the behavior. But neither is it showing any consequences to it. The Church should be setting an example in the community. Of tolerance and acceptance yes, but also as a model of Christian values and morals.
I have openly homosexual friends. I like them just fine as friends. But I would never hold them up as examples of model behavior. We all have urges and temptations towards behaviors we know are socially and morally unacceptable. That we choose not to succumb to these temptations is, I believe, exemplary.
Very well stated.
The point that many in the ELCA seem to be missing is that while Jesus ate with tax collectors and sinners, it was for the purpose of their repentence and conversion, such as Zaccheus’s declaration that in reponse to Christ’s grace he would restore manyfold all that he had defrauded.
Jesus did not dine with Zaccheus in order that he might continue to be a covetuous, money-grubbing fraud!
An aphorism attributed to Martin Luther is something like this: Love does not require that we condone error.
Translation: "Now that I've caught so much heat for being the Promoter in Chief of apostasy, I'd better start trying to sound like a conservative to stem the flood of people and dollars out of this foundering denomination."
The sheep's clothing is pretty ill-fitting.
The facts don't match the pious rhetoric.
ELCA Statistics 1988 2008 % change
Churches 11,120 10,396 -6.5%
Baptized membership (millions) 5.25 4.63 -11.8%
ELCA new mission starts 50 25* -50%
Global missions (millions)$18 $15.6 -13.3%**
Global missions executive staff 22 25 +14%
ELCA missionaries 471 180*** -62%
* 2007 figure
**actual decline is greater when the $15.6 million is discounted for inflation
***48 were one-year young adult missionaries
This is the thing that creeps me out about talking with most Lutheran pastors. It’s always a jelly sandwich of blessings and a warm bath of open mindedness and discernment.
Here’s my open letter back to the good Bishop Hanson:
Faith in Christ is based on the word of Christ. The entire argument comes down to Matthew 19: 4-5. Christ said, ‘have you not read . . .’
Now you say this - “Christ didn’t mean what you think He meant. We took a vote, and here’s what He meant . . .”
You clipped a thread on a delicate little sweater here, and the smallest child can now pull at that thread and unravel the entire sweater.
“What else about what Christ said are we not to believe anymore Bishop Hanson?”
You want to minister to homosexuals? Great, so do we. Let’s think of a way to do it without tossing out the word of Christ. I’ve got kids about to make their first communion, and about to receive their Bibles. Should we just cross out Matthew 19: 4-5 before we do that?
Save the ecumenical lacework in your reply, if you would.
"We must dialog!"
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