WordAlone - Convention urges churches to join in 'confessing' association
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Convention urges churches
to join in 'confessing' association

by Betsy Carlson (Editor, WordAlone Network)

April 21, 2005

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Betsy Carlson

The WordAlone sixth annual convention voted April 19, 2005, to urge WordAlone churches to join together in an association to publicly state their “unwavering” faith and to reach out to neighboring churches in “witness, support and mutual service.”

In its resolution the convention stated: “The WordAlone is in a unique position to help congregations articulate confessional witness that can shape the future of North American Lutheranism.

The churches were also encouraged to support a new task force in its planning for a “Lutheran Theological House of Studies.” The convention had just voted to create such a task force, which is to report back to a future WordAlone gathering with a proposal for what could become an alternative to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s eight seminaries.

A house of studies would educate pastors and other church leaders and ministers by offering classes using various models. One model might be classes by extension, much like a teaching model used in African nations where ministerial candidates come to a central location a few weeks a year to work with professors. The rest of the year, they study on their own and learn by working with active pastors, according to WordAlone Network president Jaynan Clark Egland.

Both of those resolutions and a third passed by the WordAlone members and church representatives, WA’s recommendation to ELCA 2005 Churchwide Assembly, expressed serious concerns about the direction of the ELCA in its theology, governance and proposal to allow non-celibate gays and lesbians become pastors and ministers.

Both the resolution on WA’s recommendation on the homosexuality questions and on forming an association refer to ELCA views on the unity of the church. In the former: “Some have asserted that with regard to the homosexuality questions there are two ‘valid and irreconcilable’ approaches to Scripture, as though some believers may rightly believe that homosexual activity is sin and others may believe it is not sin. Both beliefs cannot be true. Either homosexuality is sin or it is not. Jesus is not saying to some, ‘Repent,’ and to others, ‘You are okay just the way you are.’”

And the latter addresses the governance of the denomination. It states that the ELCA’s constitution has discarded Lutheran confessional theology of the true church as a hidden body of believers. Instead, the resolution states the ELCA’s emphasis on the unity of its visible, hierarchical “three-fold” structure of churchwide, synod and local church minimizes the importance of the local church and Lutheran notion that the true church is manifest when believers gather around Word and Sacrament.