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Delay of new worship materials...

...proposed Wednesday morning

by Betsy Carlson (Editor, WordAlone Network)

August 10, 2005

The 2005 ELCA Churchwide Assembly is considering a delay in adopting “Renewing Worship Project” new resources that includes changing the decision-making process for the project.

Pastor David Mayer of the Southwestern Texas Synod moved to amend the Renewing Worship process to delay approval until 2009 and to bring finished resources to the Churchwide Assembly then for final approval.

The process had been proposed initially to the assembly as being finished by the ELCA worship committee under the auspices and with the approval of the Presiding Bishop’s office.

Mayer called for establishment of a task force, similar to the sexuality task force, for study and review. He proposed the task force include seminary professors, clergy, lay leaders and synodical bishops and work to ensure theological consistency and reflect the musical diversity of the church’s traditions.

He called for broader input and communication within the ELCA and acknowledged that good and important work has been done already.

Pastor Michael Burk, ELCA director for worship, maintained that the original process “mimics” practices that are already in place and that the proposed amendment would set a precedent in changing process to bring worship materials to churchwide assemblies for final approval.

Sarah Johnson of the Southwestern Minnesota Synod asked where the blessing of water fit into Lutheran theology and tradition. Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson ruled the question referred to content and was not germane to consideration of the amendment. In response to a later question under a point of privilege as to why that question wasn’t germane, Hanson said content questions would be appropriate at times but that it could have been appealed.

Johnson came forward under a personal point of privilege and challenged Hanson’s ruling by stating that it was very important for her and the votes of many others to understand the proposed blessing of water in the new worship resources.

Susan Briehl, project associate at Valparaiso University, Ind., said the Word of God, in Baptism, makes the water regenerative and that it is Confessional that it is the Word of God at work.

The ELCA treasurer raised concerns about the cost of creating a task force.

Rosalie Rosholt, Southwestern Minnesota Synod, expressed concern that information has not been available on feedback to the Renewing Worship group about possible resources.

Karl Moyer of the Lower Susquehanna Synod sang a few of the revised texts, much to the surprise of the assembly. He said that text patterns such as “AB AB” were placed with tunes with “AA AA” patterns producing unsatisfactory experiences. He said the materials need to be looked at across the church so such quirks can be discovered.

“The need for speed is not so great as the need for care,” declared Moyer.

Prof. Robert Benne of the Virginia Synod raised a concern about the names used for “God” in language in the new resources. He described the new materials as having “snipped,” “pruned” and “annihilated” masculine names for God. He noted that “Lord, Master, King and Father,” have been eliminated in several places.

To the surprise of many, Psalm 23 as used in worship at the assembly could not say, “The Lord” is my shepherd but rather came out, “God” is my shepherd.

The assembly had not voted on the amendment before lunch.