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!


What now?

The morning after…

…actually it’s the first day of the week following the historic vote at the ELCA CWA09 last week in Minneapolis; a vote that changed ministry policies allowing homosexuality clergy in committed, life-long, monogamous same sex relationship to serve ELCA congregations.  The vote also opened the door for ELCA congregations to bless same sex unions if they so choose.  But also recognizing that fact that people across the church have “bound consciences” and that we are to respect that.

With this vote I knew I would get lots of questions (as I did as I walked into the coffee shop this morning) so I decided to address this right away on Sunday morning in the sermon.  Below is the newsletter article I wrote that is a very brief summary of what I preached on Sunday.  I used the text from Joshua 24:14-15 about choosing whom we will serve.  Here’s my newsletter article:


“Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshiped beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord. (Joshua 24:14-15)

By the time this newsletter reaches your mail box and is in your hands, the ELCA will be forever changed.  ELCA Church wide assembly met Aug. 17 – 23 in Minneapolis.  The big agenda item (and one that garnered the most passionate discussion/debate) had to do with lifting the ban on homosexual clergy, who are in life-long, monogamous, committed relationships, from serving on the ELCA roster and allowing congregations to bless same sex unions. Many of you are no doubt experiencing a number of emotions surrounding this that include but not limited to:  anger, confusion, disappointment, sadness, etc.  Some of you no doubt believe that scripture is clear when it comes to homosexuality.  Some of you no doubt are not even willing to discuss/debate this because you believe there is no discussion/debate.  But I also recognize that some of you may be very excited and happy about this change.  Wherever you fall and however you feel the reality is still the same:  We live and serve in a Church that has been forever changed.  In a way we now live in a foreign land.  So what now…

…As with everything there are decisions to be made, but in our case there is only one faithful option:  We will continue serving our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ in advancing the Gospel with all our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ…who are all as equally sinful as you and me.

This may be hard to accept for some, but when you consider how Jesus treated the outcast, it makes a lot of sense.  In the sermon on Sunday, Aug. 23 (one that many of you were not in attendance to hear) I reminded people of the story of the woman caught in adultery from John 8:  The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.

Jesus taught us to separate the sin from the sinner; to hate the sin NOT the sinner.  So what does all this mean?  Simply this:  In light of the change in ministry policies here in the ELCA concerning homosexuality I echo Joshua’s words, “As for me and my household we will serve the Lord”.  Basically…nothing is going to change.  The ELCA vote will not change what I preach or how I preach; I will continue announcing forgiveness and presiding at the table; I will continue to baptize, marry and bury people; I will continue teach and love people.  And (as I expect everyone here to do) I will continue to welcome ALL people.  I may not approve of their lifestyle but I will continue to separate the sin from the sinner and serve the Lord through loving my neighbor.  That is what Jesus commands us to do.  Loving people and accepting ALL people is serving the Lord.

The ELCA has been forever changed (there is no question about that), but Salem Lutheran Church has not been changed.  We will continue to serve the Lord; we will continue to welcome ALL people; we will continue to advance the Gospel.  But as we do this I urge you to dive even deeper into scripture and explore the Good News that God has for us.  Know what the Bible commands us to do AND know what God promises to do for us.  Get to know God better through Jesus Christ our Lord.

So join me, as we travel through this uncertain time, and continue to serve the Lord…all the while praising God always and forever.


I know that more and more questions are going to come.  There is going to be much spirited discussion and debate through blogs, Facebook, Twitter and coffee shops.  But through it all we need to remember that we are all children of God.  And my hope and prayer is that we can somehow move forward in mission.  We need to get out there and announce to people this awesome love we have from God through Jesus Christ.  Forgiveness needs to be proclaimed; people need to experience love; the stranger still needs to be welcomed.  Let’s not lose focus.

We serve an awesome God…let’s continue to do so…praising God always and forever.


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.


ELCA cwa09 and Twitter

The ELCA Church wide assembly is underway.  Day one is in the books and Day 2 is up and going.  Yesterday was debate about parliamentary procedures.  One of the big items was the passage of the rule to only require a simple majority for passage of ministry recommendations concerning homosexuality.  I did not listen to this debate via live streaming through the ELCA website but entered the discussion afterward on Twitter.  It is really fun to see the number of people Tweeting the assembly via Twitter.  But if you are doing that make sure you are getting accurate information.  Go to the the ELCA website for updates or follow “pglutherans” on Twitter.  She is posting Tweets of news stories and other information about assembly action; a reliable source of information (pglutherans is reliable, maybe not so much the mainline media).  You can also follow the ELCA on Twitter for up-to-date information as well.

Last night, as I was following various people on Twitter about CWA news, I got into a discussion with a fellow Tweeter about what was going on.  Obviously we hold different views about homosexuality.  One of my Tweets indicated that I hope and pray that the delegates are not just following societal trends.  By the time we were finished with our discussion/debate I was accused of being “uncharitable towards those who disagree with me”.  At that Tweet I stopped the discussion…not because I didn’t have a response, but rather I wanted to process that discussion we were having and respond later.

Well…later is here…

“Uncharitable”?  Without giving you the full text of the conversation I want to respond.  And in all fairness to my colleague (who I follow on Twitter and on her blog…and whom I respect) I am not going to take shots or anything like that but rather respond in a general sort of way.  Our discussion/debate last night is between the two of us and anyone else following us on Twitter.

“Uncharitable” — I have heard similar terms such as that when connected to the debate about homosexuality.  The other terms I have heard are: “Unwelcoming”, “Intolerant”, “Unloving” and even “Homophobic”.  I am not suggesting that my colleague was eluding to any of those terms, but rather I have heard all of them in the same debate.  Am I “uncharitable”…NO.  Am I passionate about what I believe…YES.  For the record:  I believe in the traditional view of marriage between ONE man and ONE woman. But…if a gay couple walks through the doors of the church I am serving will I welcome them…ABSOLUTELY…and I hope and (frankly) expect everyone else to as well.  Will that gay couple be welcomed as members of the congregation…YES.  I will preach the Gospel to them; pray for them and serve with them…just like everyone else.  I just can’t support their lifestyle.  If a gay pastor comes to serve a congregation in Jackson what will my response be…I will work with my colleague and that congregation in an ecumenical way as I always have.

I may sound “uncharitable” to those who disagree with me but maybe that is because our view of scripture is so different.  Maybe it is because we are at a point where debate about homosexuality is not going to change the view of people who are already entrenched in their view.  Maybe I sound “uncharitable” because saying that you disagree with the homosexual life style proponents generally hear that you have “closed your doors”.

I am not “uncharitable”…I am just passionate about my beliefs and I hope the delegates remain faithful to their convictions and beliefs as well.  I hope and pray they do not get swayed by societal trends or media/societal pressure.  I hope and pray that the delegates remain and continue in prayer…and remember to listen.  I hope and pray that people are respectful.  And…no matter the out come of the vote this week…I hope and pray that the ELCA can get back on track and proclaim the Gospel, continue in mission and be evangelically focused.

There’s much work to be done, but nothing will happen through our own strength and understanding.  May God be praised and glorified in all we do.  And remember…be charitable to all people…regardless of beliefs.

Praise be to God!


Swinging on Monday, Aug. 17

O.K…it is time to get back into the swing of things once again.

Today is Monday, Aug. 17 and the ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) is convening in Minneapolis for its Church wide assembly.  And this year promises to be one of heated (and hopefully) civil debate over the issue of homosexuality.  Tops on the agenda is the social statement on Human Sexuality.  Closely behind that is the ministry recommendations that would allow ordaining gay/lesbian pastors who are in life-long, committed relationships and for the blessing of same sex unions.  No matter where one stands; no matter what happens, there will be some polarization in the ELCA.  I hate to say it, but its going to happen.  My prayer is that the mission of Christ still continues marching forward and that we don’t let issues derail us.  Satan would love nothing more than for the Church to lose its focus.

Today is Monday, Aug. 17 and I am deep into getting ready for confirmation.  I mentioned in an earlier post that I am revamping my confirmation program here.  It is not a complete overhaul, but rather some important (and intriguing) additions to the schedule and requirements.  One of the key things I am doing is putting a greater emphasis on parental involvement.  I will talk more later on what I am doing with this.  I have a couple more piece I am finalizing yet, but I am really looking forward to this year.  It’s going to be a fun one.

Today is Monday, Aug. 17 and I am starting to feel a little anxiety.  In less than a month, Salem Lutheran Church will be celebrating its 125th anniversary and I don’t feel ready to go yet.  The big weekend is Sept. 12 and 13 and it keeps creeping closer and closer every day (duh…i guess).  It’s just that there is so much to do here at church and in the parsonage…and I just want everything to go smoothly.  But on the other hand I am looking forward to the celebration.  We have former pastors coming back and other special guests returning for the weekend.  You can go to our church website for a complete schedule of events at

Today is Monday, Aug. 17 and I feel like I am back into the swing of things…again.  But with everything that is coming up I am hoping and praying that I do not “strike out”.

God bless your day!