Wednesday, June 30, 2010



When a congregation chooses to leave the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, sometimes a minority of the congregation wishes to remain faithful to the ELCA. In these cases, sometimes, the synod forms a Synodically Authorized Worshiping Community (SAWC). The SAWC concept, as I understand it, grew out of the ELCA mission strategy adopted by our Churchwide Assembly in 2003. A SAWC may be a precursor to a new congregation.

In the comments to my previous post, Kelly gave a link to the website for Peace Lutheran, the SAWC being formed for the remnant of her congregation that remains faithful to the ELCA. It's a great website and an exciting new ministry. I did not want the Kelly's link to get lost in the comments thread, so here it is!

Join me in praying for Peace Lutheran, and for all of the SAWC's being formed as congregations disaffected by the ELCA's sexuality policies leave our church body.

On the subject of sexuality, Justin takes on some of the specious reasoning used to condemn homosexuals. Read about it at his Darthjedi blog.

The fireworks came from Peace Lutheran's website. Appropriate for a SAWC celebrating its first worship service on America's Independence Day!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

An Eerie Silence


I know that I have been oddly quiet lately, and I apologize to my loyal readers. Both of you. My silence is not because I have nothing to say. Right or wrong, good or bad, I nearly always have something to say. Nor is it because nothing is going on.

There is, for instance, a fascinating story of homosexual self-loathing and unethical journalism that you can read about at prettygoodlutherans.

There is also a recent meltdown via email from WordAlone president Jaynan Clark to ELCA Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson. I think Clark's message highlights the fact that the divisions in the ELCA are not just about sexuality, nor even about the interpretation of Scripture. They are also, and perhaps primarily, a clash of worldviews. Read about it at Obie Holmen's blog.

So what is keeping me from blogging more? Just that I am trying to buy a new home and sell an old one. Keeping my house in showcase condition is a never ending task. For a while, then, my posts will be infrequent and sporadic.

I snagged the picture of the world's most famous cricket here. Wanna buy my house?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Sarah's Sharing The Love!


My friend Sarah, who blogs as Unholy Pastor Mommy, is riding the positive train. She has sent letters of support to our Presiding Bishop, our synodical bishop and to Carlos Pena, Vice President of the ELCA.

You can read her letters here and here. I love her enthusiasm.

If you have been reading my blog and have not yet sent messages of encouragement to your ELCA, synodical and even congregational leaders, what is stopping you? Let's share the love!

A personal note: Sarah beat me two out of three games of cribbage today. I will have revenge. I found the cribbage image at this website.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Kelly's Sharing the Love


At her Progressively Lutheran blog, Kelly has published the text of her letters of support to ELCA Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson and ELCA Vice President Carlos Pena (which is properly spelled with a tilde over the "n", but in spite of Kelly's helpful hints, I still can't figure out how to make it work here).

I always enjoy Kelly's lucid writing. Here is an example from her letter to Bishop Hanson:

I fully support the ELCA’s inclusive policies and commend the Assembly’s bold actions. I firmly believe that we have made the right decision, and I have never been prouder to be raising my daughters to be strong members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

I apologize that this letter is long overdue and can never truly express my deep gratitude toward our Church and its unwavering stand to welcome all regardless of age, gender, nationality, socioeconomic class or sexual identity.

ELCA leadership has been the target of much criticism and hate, while positive messages have been few. It takes minutes to write a letter and costs just 44 cents to mail it. Email is even cheaper.

If you support the ELCA's sexuality statement and the rostering of same-sex partnered clergy, why not follow Kelly's example and let our leadership know?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

And My Letter to My Synodical Bishop

This letter is a little longer and more personal as I have a personal relationship with my synodical bishop.

Bishop Gary Wollersheim
Northern Illinois Synod
103 W. State Street
Rockford, IL 61101

June 10, 2010

Dear Bishop Wollersheim,

The turmoil in the ELCA following the 2009 Churchwide Assembly decisions regarding human sexuality and the rostering of same-sex partnered pastors is unprecedented in my experience. These have been trying times for many of my colleagues in ministry and their congregations. I am writing to express my appreciation for the encouragement and leadership that you and your staff provide.

I am proud to be a member of the ELCA and of the Northern Illinois Synod. I am particularly grateful for the support that you have given to those who wish to remain faithful to the ELCA when their congregations are voting to affiliate with other church bodies. The five Synodically Authorized Worshiping Communities formed in our synod are a blessing to us. I am thankful, too, for the ministry of support that you have provided for congregations which have stayed in the ELCA but have been split over votes to leave.

Bishop, I am sure that these are difficult times for you, and I want you to know that I pray for you and your staff regularly. I look forward to seeing you at Synod Assembly. May God bless you.


Rev. Brant Clements

What do you think? Will Carlos Pena, and the bishops be encouraged by my letters? Wouldn't they be encouraged by a letter from you, too? So quit reading blogs, open up that word processor and write a note of support to our ELCA leaders...and, oh yeah, I know for a fact that a little note of encouragement would make your pastor's day!

My Letter to Bishop Mark Hanson

This one is a little shorter than the letter I wrote to Carlos Pena. I feel sure that Bishop Hanson does not need to be burdened with more reading, but I have to think that he would appreciate a word of encouragement.

Bishop Mark Hanson
Office of the Presiding Bishop
8765 W. Higgins Road
Chicago, IL 60631

June 10, 2010

Dear Bishop Hanson,

I am writing to thank you for your leadership of our ELCA through the difficult times that have followed the 2009 Churchwide Assembly decisions concerning human sexuality and the rostering of same-sex partnered clergy.

I believe that the ELCA has done the right thing and I continue in my support of our church body.

Please know that I hold you and all of our ELCA leaders in my prayers. God bless you.


Rev. Brant Clements

My Letter to Carlos Pena, Vice President of the ELCA

In keeping with the intent of my last post, here is the text of the letter I have written to Carlos Pena. I hope that others will join me in expressing their support for our ELCA's leadership at the Churchwide, synodical and congregational levels.

Mr. Carlos E. Pena
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
8765 W. Higgins Road
Chicago, IL 60631

June 10, 2010

Dear Mr. Pena,

Pastor Justin Johnson recently blogged about some of his observations from the Upstate New York Synod Assembly. Among his notes, he cited you as saying that the ELCA has not received many letters of support following the 2009 Churchwide Assembly decisions regarding sexuality and the rostering of same-sex partnered clergy. Here, belatedly, is one such letter.

I believe that the ELCA has done the right thing. I believe that the voting members of the 2009 Churchwide assembly acted bravely. I believe that their decisions represent a faithful application of Scripture, Lutheran tradition, theological reflection and discernment of God's activity in our world. I am proud to be a member of the ELCA.

Thank you, Mr. Pena, for your leadership of our church body in this difficult time. Please know that I hold you, and all of the ELCA's leaders in my prayers. May God bless you abundantly.


Rev. Brant Clements

I cannot figure out how to put a tilde over an "n" in blogger. The hard copy of the letter above has Carlos Pena's name spelled correctly. My letters of support to Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson and my synodical Bishop Gary Wollersheim will be the subject of posts to come.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Let's Share The Love

On his DarthJedi blog, Justin shared his observations from the Upstate New York Synod Assembly. Concerning t a presentation made by Carlos Pena, Vice-president of the ELCA, he wrote:

"Another interesting thing [Pena] said was that he has received almost no letters from supporters of the decisions made in August, so supporters send some letters!"
Justin's idea got picked up in the comments to this thread on Obie Holmen's blog, Spirit of a Liberal.

This is not an easy time to be in leadership in the ELCA. Bishops and their staffs are on the receiving end of a lot of anger. I am sure that a few words of appreciation and support would go a long way.

So, here is my plan. I am going to write letters to Carlos Pena, Bishop Hansen and my synodical bishop. I will tell them that I support the ELCA and its 2009 Churchwide Assembly decisions regarding sexuality. I will thank them for their leadership and tell them that I pray for them regularly. I will post the text of my letters here along with their office addresses. I will encourage you, my readers, to send similar letters.

Those of you who have blogs might consider doing the same thing.

Lay members of ELCA congregations might want to send a letter of support to your pastor.

A little encouragement goes a long way. Let's get some ELCA love started!

I found Vincent Van Gogh's painting of the Good Samaritan here. I used it for this post, well, just because.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Katie Bar The Door! Pt. 2


In the April issue of the online Journal of Lutheran Ethics (JLE), Church historian Dr. Jon Pahl wrote a scathing critique of LutheranCORE's theological underpinnings. The article caused quite a stir, not least because of Dr. Pahl's no-holds-barred rhetorical tone. The article was accompanied by a brief, dismissive reply from ethicist Dr. Robert Benne.

I am pleased to note that in the June issue of JLE, Rev. Cathy A. Ammlung, "an ordained woman who is a member of Lutheran CORE" offers a more thoughtful response to Dr. Pahl's article. I appreciate that Rev. Ammlung engages some of the very real issues that Dr. Pahl raised. A brief quote:

Dr. Pahl draws the entirely unwarranted conclusion that this represents a Docetic understanding of the Church. This is uncharitable and is a serious misunderstanding of Word Alone and Lutheran CORE. The scandal and pain of schisms, controversies and divisions in the Body of Christ ought not to blind us to the fact that faithful Christians in many denominations understand themselves to be congregationally-based outposts of that Body.
Dr. Pahl's response to both Dr. Benne and Pastor Ammlung can be found here. Though he adopts a less abrasive tone, he sticks by his critical guns. A quote from Dr. Pahl:

Ammlung does address the question of Docetism in CORE, which I appreciated. She feels that CORE members are committed to the church as "the Body of Christ." I hope that's true. But what is the living corpus to which CORE members are committed — is it the congregation, Word Alone, LCMC, NALC, CORE? As I tried to suggest by talking about how "Protestants multiply by dividing" in America, the typical "body" of the church in the American civil religion has no flesh, but is a fantasy of purity that invariably fails — what Luther called a church in "cloud cuckoo land." As is common with Docetics, one senses suspicion of the body of the ELCA and its duly called and elected leaders on the part of some in CORE — a need to control the body, discipline it, punish it, even. And I must confess that I have experienced more than a little punishment from individual CORE members over the past few weeks. I've repeatedly been called a "liar," "ignorant," "narcissistic," "disgusting," — the list goes on an on — usually without any substantive engagement with the theological critiques I offered, or the evidence I gave.
Dr. Pahl's original article caused quite a stir around the internet, including here in my own little corner of the blogosphere. Editor, Rev. Kaari Reierson makes note of the response JLE received and defends the decision to publish Pahl's article.

Many e-mails expressed disappointment that we published an article that was so out-spoken in its criticism. Several writers suggested that publication of the article proved "there's no place for disagreement in the ELCA."

We at JLE beg to differ, and believe JLE's record as a whole supports this claim. JLE regularly publishes articles critical of public documents of the ELCA; moreover, we have often received affirmation for providing a balance of authorship and perspective on controversial issues with writing that expresses sharp disagreement.
There's plenty of good reading and food-for-thought in the links provided above.