Well, this weekend at my lay ministry we learned that our synod is working on a version of ELCA's Visions and Expectations for lay ministers. We were supposed to discuss their draft during our breakout time. I sat and stewed; because frankly I don't feel safe enough to express my feelings in my group.
I wonder how the draft's verbiage that our vocations in lay ministry are a "privilege and not a right" square with the idea, expressed elsewhere in the document, that our vocations are a calling from God? With whom, exactly, does the church think the ultimate authority rests in granting the privilege of ministering to Christ's people? Wouldn't that be...Christ?
I found it interesting that in one breath our V&E draft talks about lay ministers needing to demonstrate "competency in interpersonal relationships," and in the next breath denies lay ministers who happen to be gay or lesbian from having the kind of competent interpersonal relationships that others take for granted.
And, irony of ironies, after spending part of the day reading a document that would effectively deny gay and lesbian Lutherans in committed partnerships from ministering in an official capacity, we spent a few hours not only talking about evangelism and listening to handwringing warnings that the ELCA is going to disappear as a denomination if we don't improve our outreach to the rest of society and to our own disaffected former members, but also having cited as a "transformational" expert in evangelism Kelly Fryer, former pastor, who had to resign from the ordained ministry due to the parameters of Visions and Expectations.
I spent Saturday night in tears, IM-ing Fellow Traveler about my retreat. (Oh, and I'd like to thank the church for its witness of love and acceptance and message that "Everyone is welcome," as experienced by my formerly non-churchgoing friend, who is finding out firsthand how our denomination really feels about our presence in it. Good work.)
I spent today in a hayfield filled with hippies, which frankly was both more spiritual and more enjoyable than my last day-and-a-half with my Lutheran "sisters and brothers in Christ."