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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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Seminarians ask

—for support for non-bishop ordinations

by Betsy Carlson, editor

News: May 18, 2007

Luther Seminary students asked WordAlone members at the WordAlone Network's recent convention in Golden Valley, Minn., to sign a statement in support of their efforts to obtain exceptions to a requirement that new pastors be ordained by a bishop.

Senior Tyler Hepner told the convention that the seminarians wanted to garner as much support as they could from ministers and laypersons. They accepted a couple dozen signatures at the convention. photo of Betsy Carlson

The requirement for ordination by a bishop came into being as a result of a full communion agreement, "Called to Common Mission," between the ELCA and The Episcopal Church in 2000. In 2001, an ELCA churchwide assembly approved a by-law amendment to allow ordinations by pastors rather than bishops, as long as the seminarians went through an application and approval process.

In an interview after the convention, Hepner commented the applicants for "exceptional ordinations" often have found their ordinations delayed somewhat.

"These 'exceptional' candidates for ministry have to defend themselves before bishops by writing an essay explaining why the circumstances of their ordinations are so unusual as to warrant a non-episcopal ordination," said Hepner. "Because students are very isolated by this process, we thought it might be useful to open the issue up more publicly.

"A corporately drafted statement, we believe, can help students through the process of applying for an exception, and show bishops of the ELCA that this is not principally a matter of individual preference."

He also said the seminarians were hoping the signatures of teachers, pastors and other Lutherans would make the statement more a public witness and the process of applying for non-episcopal ordination less difficult