More processing…

O.K….I am back, writing about “the vote” at the ELCA CWA, but all I want to do here is share with you a couple snippets and let you process/respond to them.

FIRST — a woman came into my office last week to express her feelings about where the ELCA is going.  We had a very fruitful discussion, even though we have differing views.  She stopped in again today and handed me a piece of paper with 2 Cor. 6:14 – 7:1 written on it.  She said that this is where she is coming from.  She was on her way to another appointment so we couldn’t talk about it.  What do you think about this scripture in relation to the homosexuality discussion?

SECOND — I received this link on Facebook today.  It is a news release from the ELCA titled “The Church’s mission is bigger than one issue”.  I found this helpful.  What do you think?

Like most other people I am still processing.

Praise be to God!


A change of pace

I have been taking a little break from blogging the last couple days.  This past week has been a whirl wind since “the vote” at the ELCA CWA.  Many of my posts and comments here have dealt with issues from the CWA (Churchwide assembly).  This will continue to be an important topic to think and pray about and discuss…but I need a little break to process.  There are some comments on this blog that I need to attend to and I plan to respond to those early this week…so I thank you for your patience.  I am also working on a plan to meet with parishioners in small groups to listen to their concerns and questions while I share more information about the ELCA.  I have yet to finalize details yet, but when I do I will be sharing this plan with you here.

These next couple weeks may continue to be a whirl wind for me though:
–Salem’s 125th anniversary celebration is just 2 weeks away…with much to do yet.

–Confirmation, release time and Wednesday Night Live is beginning in mid-September.

–My wife and I are in the midst of home remodeling…which we are trying to finish before the 125th anniversary (we are having an open house at the parsonage).

So there’s much to do…and with that probably much to blog about.  But if you see a little dip in postings from the past week you will know why.  As I say every year…September is one of the busiest months of the year for me (next to December and Holy Week/Easter month).

In any case (and as always) I thank you for your comments and for stopping by.  Your presence here is extremely important to me and to others who visit.  Your thoughts and questions cause me (and others) to think.  So thank you and God bless!


Faith journey

[Personal side note: I know I have posted a lot recently so hopefully I am not overwhelming you…it’s just that I have had lots on my heart to say.]

This last week has been a faith journey for me (times of trial have a way of leading people on these journeys).

For me this faith journey started (of course) last week when the ELCA Churchwide assembly began debating/discussing the sexuality issues.  But I don’t want to write another post about these issues (been there, done that).  Rather I want to share with you what has been going on inside of my heart during this past week…after all…this blog is titled “The HEART of a Pastor”.

Recently I had a conversation with a person who shared with me their heart about what happened at the ELCA CWA.  When this person called me and told me they were coming in, I did not expect a conversation about “the vote”, but when this person arrived…oh boy…I saw the heart of this person that I had not seen before.  They were almost apologetic but I kept telling them “We need more people like you to open their hearts and share what they are feeling about what is going on.  I appreciate seeing and hearing your passion and faith.”  This person was not happy about the outcome of “the vote” but need to tell someone…and they felt I was the only one they could talk to.  I wish that were no so.  I wish this person felt comfortable talking to others about their feelings and faith.  I told this person “I got a feeling that there are plenty others who probably feel the same as you.  So share your faith and don’t be afraid.”  I am not sure what this person will do, but hopefully this is just the beginning.

But in another way this “beginning” kind of scares me…

…part of me doesn’t feel ready to take on this task because I am still on this faith journey.  But another part of me knows that I need to be ready to guide and lead this congregation…and because that is the case I trust that God will guide me along this journey and give me what I need to lead Salem and Belmont Lutheran Churches through these tumultuous (wow…that is kind of a big word for me to use, but I like it) waters.

Yet another part of me is somewhat concerned what people here and beyond will do.  Will churches and people up and leave the ELCA?  Will Salem want to do that?  This is just one uncertainty that plagues me and one that I need to be ready to deal with.  I need to explore my heart and test my faith to see where it leads me.  I know the question will come up so I am in constant prayer…asking God for guidance and wisdom here.  “What is your plan for me and this church, oh  God?  Where are you leading us?  How are we to be faithful witnesses to the world during this tumultuous time in the Church?  But also…I don’t want this issue of homosexuality to distract us from the Gospel.  Grant me/us wisdom oh God.”

But I am thankful that this journey is happening before the busyness of the fall season hits.  School is not in session yet; Release Time and Confirmation classes don’t start for another couple weeks and Salem’s 125th anniversary is still a couple weeks away.  I can afford some down time to pray, reflect, talk with colleagues, write, read, pray, reflect, etc… And I got a feeling I will be doing plenty of this during the week and beyond.

I don’t understand why things happened last week the way they did, but I hope and pray it causes people to reflect, pray and engage their own personal faith journeys.  Maybe the Church needed this to spur people to action; to explore their relationship with God; to get people talking and thinking; to force people to explore their faith; to get into scripture more.  Whatever God is doing I trust that the mission of Christ will continue forward and that we will continue to be faithful witnesses.

Oh God, grant me strength and wisdom.


Act of God?

A friend of mine posted this link in a Facebook message to a group of us and it sure got the few of us talking.  I post the link here to see what you link of it.

The Tornado, The Lutherans and Homosexuality

It is John Piper’s interpretation of the tornado that struck during the ELCA CWA in Minneapolis last Wednesday.  Was God sending the ELCA a message?  Check the link out and see what Piper has to say and then let me know here.  I am curios what your thoughts are.

I will let you know what my thoughts are later.


ELCA CWA09 — “The votes”

The ELCA Church wide assembly (CWA09) is going on in Minneapolis, MN right now (right where all those tornadoes touched down yesterday…thankfully no one was hurt).  The big action item from yesterday’s debate/discussion was the vote on whether to approve “Human Sexuality:  Gift and Trust“…a social statement of the ELCA.  According to assembly rules and the constitution this requires a 2/3 super majority for approval.  It passed by just 1 vote…amazing.  I would like to include a link to the amended version of this statement but as of right now it is not available.  Keep checking and the social statement will be there.

Coming up tomorrow will be the “main attraction”…Report and Recommendations on Ministry Policies. These recommendations refer to whether or not to allow gay/lesbian clergy serve on the roster of the ELCA who are in committed, monogamous, life-long same sex relationships.  Currently the rule is that if you are homosexual you must remain celibate.  These ministry recommendations also address allowing for same-sex blessings.  Also built into these recommendations is the issue of “bound conscience”.  Basically…individual congregations and synods wouldn’t be forced to bless same sex unions or call (or be prevented from calling) gay/lesbian clergy.  The vote on this is expected Friday morning.  Please keep these delegates in your prayers.

After tomorrow, the ELCA is going to be forever changed (no matter how the vote turns out).  If these recommendations do not pass, they will just come up again in two years when the ELCA meets again.  The conversation has come a long way and after tomorrow this will be in no way over.  After tomorrow people on both sides of the issue will have to decide how we are going to move forward as a Church.  People are going to have to decide how to serve together.  My hope and prayer is that we can finally move forward and do some serious ministry; focusing on advancing the mission of Christ.

Please continue pray…not just tomorrow morning…but into the future that the Church does not lose sight of its calling.  Whatever happens, may God be with us.