Our chapter held a luncheon meeting in Olympia on Saturday, May 31, during the Southwestern Washington Synod Assembly. Our featured speaker was Jaynan Clark Egland, president and CEO of the WordAlone Network. We held this important chapter meeting to discuss plans and strategies for the 2009 synod meeting and 2009 Churchwide Assembly in Minneapolis, Minn.
I have been so impressed and thrilled with the steadfastness of our ELCA WordAlone pastors in the Northwest who are holding firm to the authority of His Scriptures and the Confessions of the Lutheran church and to the affirmations of their calls and ordinations.
These are critical days for the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America in determining the direction its assembly voting members might decide to take in 2009. Synod and congregational meetings need to be held in the meantime that can result in resolutions and memorials regarding the most recent Draft Social Statement on Human Sexuality. These meetings, to discuss and raise questions about the draft statement, will require discerning thoughtfulness and fervent prayer to consider and evaluate its contents for possible action and response.
Many of us consider the monumental time, effort and expense on the study of sexuality during the years since 2001 to have been a colossal waste of valuable ELCA resources. I believe the churchwide assembly at its meeting in 2009 will face the most crucial moment in its 20-year history in considering resolutions and action on this study. How long can the ELCA tolerate a continuing loss of congregational members and churches over the controversy that ultimately rests on our faith and commitment to the authority and truth of the Scriptures and our Confessions?
Are we to remain a Lutheran church body on the basis of the declarations of Reformation theology and writings of Martin Luther, to live and worship by the historic traditions and foundations of the Lutheran Christian faith inspired by the Holy Spirit in the same manner as the Scriptures and to adhere to the authority of those very Scriptures?
I was recently reelected as a member of the WordAlone Network Board, this time to a full three-year term. I am frankly awed by this honor and responsibility in helping to meet the challenges of my office. We are speaking out and working to confront those voices and thoughts that would move us away from the centrality of our faith commitments and our faith message of eternal salvation for those who believe in its Truth.
Our local chapter had a booth during the Synod Assembly where members of our board visited and discussed the work of our WordAlone chapter and the Network to inform Lutheran constituencies on current and ongoing issues.
Copies of the new book, “By What Authority? Confronting Churches Who No Longer Believe Their Own Message,” were available for review and sale. There have been several excellent reviews of this first publication by the WordAlone Network. I think it is the best collection of positive writings by outstanding authors to date on the controversy about the authority of Scripture.
In addition to the new book, there were several publications on display by Sola Publishing, a new division within the WordAlone Network organization.
Pastor Gary Jepsen of Pilgrim Lutheran Church in Puyallup, Wash., one of the pastor advisors to our chapter board, was one of the featured speakers at the annual WordAlone Network Convention this spring in Golden Valley, Minn. Our chapter—with his permission—reproduced his speech titled “Equipping the Saints for Ministry—‘These are the times that try our souls’” to make it available to visitors at our synod assembly booth. It also may be read on the WordAlone website.
Our chapter is looking forward to and preparing for a meeting in October of the WordAlone Network Board of Directors in Burien, Wash. This quarterly board meeting will be hosted by Glendale Evangelical Lutheran Church and Senior Pastor Philip Lee. We intend to use this occasion to invite pastors, congregational leaders and churches from the Northwest Washington and Southwestern Washington Synods to learn more about WordAlone efforts and activities in preparation for 2009 Synod meetings. We hope to review any proposed resolutions and memorials that are being prepared for introduction at the 2009 Churchwide Assembly in Minneapolis.
I have had some kind and instructive words of response to my past article and appreciate receiving them. In planning for my next website article, I have been thinking seriously about writing a resolution for submission to annual congregational and synod meetings in 2009. Based on my unsuccessful experiences in the past several years in writing and submitting resolutions regarding marriage, blessings, the calls and ordinations of pastors and Scriptural teachings on sexuality, it has been my hope that I could write something for review and critique by Lutheran friends and colleagues that would meet the test of relevancy and, best of all, acceptability and adoption.
Thus, my reasons in the previous paragraph for seeking responses regarding my readers’ own experiences in writing and submitting resolutions to synod meetings for memorials to the Churchwide Assembly. I believe that the preparation of resolutions on the sexuality statement, its recommendations and the responses to the statement will demand our prayerful (most important actions), insightful and discerning attention for the saving of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America.
At 81 years of age, I thank God that He has allowed me to serve at this time in our Lutheran church history. It is an exciting time to stand up for Jesus Christ and His Word. As John put it, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God.” (KJV – John 1:1-2) “And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” (KJV – John 1:14) And, every day I know with confidence that He walks and talk with me; His Word is the same today, as it was yesterday, will be tomorrow and will be forever.
Lord, Keep Us Steadfast in Your Word, Your Word Is Truth!