As of Dec. 20, 691 confessors have signed an admonition to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) opposing ordination ritual requirements from the WordAlone Network’s 17-member board of international theologians.
Everyone is urged to read the document and to sign it, according to WordAlone President Jaynan Clark Egland. WordAlone Network leaders are hoping for thousands of signatures. The “Admonition for the Sake of the True Peace and Unity of the Church” will be sent to all ELCA leaders and congregations.
There isn’t a cut-off date for signatures and WordAlone will remind ELCA leaders periodically of the number of signers.
The admonition can be found at www.wordalone.org. Links to read the document, to sign it and to see other signatures currently are on the home page. Signatures can also be mailed in to: WordAlone Ministries, P.O. Box 111, Maple Lake, MN 55358; Include: name and title, signature (not required with e-mail), mailing address, phone number, e-mail address, home congregation, name and city. Be sure that the information is legible.
The newly formed group of international Lutheran theologians issued a written statement Nov. 18, 2002, after a weekend meeting, suggesting that the ELCA may have contradicted its own Lutheran Confessions in adopting new ordination requirements in recent years. The admonition addressed primarily the issue of requiring that new ministers and bishops be ordained into an “episcopal succession” as defined by The Episcopal Church USA (ECUSA).
However, the theological paper suggested the ELCA could remain true to the Confessions by giving equal standing to ordinations done outside the new requirements. New rites were mandated by a full communion agreement with the ECUSA, approved by the ELCA ruling body in 1999.
The theologians categorized the Episcopal requirements for ordination into “episcopal succession” as unnecessary or “indifferent (adiaphoron)” for justification of the sinner or for the church to be church. They wrote that by making “an adiaphoron into a theological necessity” the ELCA seemed to have contradicted its own confessional documents, which state that the church only is made manifest when it properly preaches the gospel and distributes the sacraments.
“Episcopal succession” is accomplished by having only bishops ordain new ministers and having new bishops installed by three bishops in historic succession, one who must be an Episcopal bishop. Formerly, other pastors often ordained Lutheran pastors; Episcopal bishops did not install Lutheran bishops nor were three bishops in historic succession.