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WordAlone Book
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A compilation of essays and comments by concerned pastors, theologians and laypersons, challenging denominations who are denying Christ’s resurrection, ‘demythologizing’ Scripture, blessing same-sex relationships, ordaining non-celibate homosexuals.

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Significant ELCA news

by Pastor Mark Chavez (Director, WordAlone Network)

News: March 18, 2005

The ELCA News Service in Chicago, Ill., has issued some articles in the past nine days that have significant information about what is happening in the denomination. Here is a sampling of some noteworthy items.photo of Pr. Mark Chavez

March 9, ELCA Bishops Send Message To Church On Sexuality Recommendations:  The bishops support the first two recommendations from the sexuality task force, but "acknowledge that as a conference we are unable to offer a definitive word of advice on recommendation three."

March 10, ELCA Bishops Told 2004 Financial Results 'Mixed':  Christina Jackson-Skelton, ELCA treasurer, reported that total income was up in 2004, but "mission support income [giving from churches to synods and churchwide] decreased to $65.6 million, down about $800,000 from 2003," the third consecutive year of decline.  "Jackson-Skelton said nearly 60 percent of the synods sent less mission support income to the churchwide organization in 2004 than in 2003.  'We cannot expect we will continue to have increases in others areas [of the budget] to make up for this decline,' she warned."

March 11, ELCA Bishops Hear Concerns, Surplus News From Presiding Bishop:  "In his report, Hanson offered his first public comments on the task force report and recommendations.  Hanson said:  Two 'hermeneutics' or paradigms are at work among the members of the ELCA that make agreement difficult on scriptural and theological matters.  The Rev. Craig L. Nessan, academic dean and professor of contextual theology, Wartburg Theological Seminary, an ELCA seminary in Dubuque, Iowa, writes that there is a 'traditional approach' and a 'contextual approach' in interpreting Scripture, both of which are valid and irreconcilable, Hanson told the bishops."

March 15, ELCA Boards 'Mixed' About Recommendations On Homosexuality:  The boards of the ELCA Division for Church in Society and Division for Ministry recently met, with the board for Church in Society expressing stronger support for the sexuality task force recommendations, but "both boards voted in a straw poll against adopting recommendation three as presented by the task force, many expressed a desire to 'create space,' picking up a phrase from the task force report."

March 16, ELCA Bishops Advise Approving Agreement With United Methodists:  The bishops advised the ELCA "to commit to 'interim Eucharistic sharing' with the United Methodist Church, a step that may lead to a full-communion agreement between the two churches sometime in the future."

The March 16 news article also reports that ELCA Secretary, Lowell Almen, said "he is concerned about the long-term supply of pastors in the ELCA.  The ELCA Board of Pensions predicts some 6,000 pastors will retire in the next 15 years, he said.  If current trends continue, the church will have one-fourth to one-third fewer pastors than it has now, Almen said.  The ELCA needs to step up its 'recruitment efforts with young pastors,' he said.  In addition, Almen said 25 congregations withdrew from the ELCA in 2004, the largest number to withdraw in a single year since the ELCA was formed in 1988.  In 2002, 18 congregations withdrew, he said."

This same news article also reports that the ELCA Conference of Bishops "recommended that the board of the ELCA Division for Ministry and the Church Council approve a 'Policy and Guidelines Related to Synodically Authorized Ministries of Word and Sacrament.'  The conference also said that it understands that synodically authorized ministry of Word and Sacrament 'is normally intended for a specific congregation or other ministry where appropriate ordained ministry is not available for an extended period of time.'"