Sunday, September 10, 2006

The Shoe Drops

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.

Three observations:

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."

23 comments:

Songbird said...

:-(

I'm sorry. As a person whose call would not be recognized in her childhood denomination, I hear you. We're not there yet. We're not there yet.

Linda (FM) said...

I'm sorry. It hurts. I know it does.

P.S. (an after-thought) said...

If only....there was a place within the church where you could also be open with your blog emotions. Maybe, maybe people, some people, would see the humanside of these feelings.

CoG said...

As a fellow member of the ELCA, I'm sorry. Hopefully soon both our vision and our expectations of church leaders, ordained or not, will change.

Mata H said...

My prayers join yours. I am ashamed that our denomination has acted like this.

Verdugo said...

Sometimes a hayfield is the most spiritual place you can be.


(((LC))))

Christopher said...

I'm sorry thing are sucking for you at the moment. Remember William Falkner's words, "All things imperminent."
Peace,
Chris

Chris T. said...

:-( I know how you feel. The ELCA is really confused about what kind of church it wants to be. Sadly enough, I got dumped from candidacy for saying Christians should be friends with non-Christians and do the work of evangelism in the context of loving relationships to unchurched people. ("Well, we should be nice to them, but I think you agree we should never be there friends!" was one quote.) By a congregation that was wringing its hands over how to get new members.

At some point it's going to have to come out of its ethnically-focused, 1950s life and start living in the real, pluralistic, complicated world. I feel bad about leaving sometimes and not fighting, but being mired in all that was spiritually very damaging. I think that's the case for a lot of people whose calls from God are denied by their religious communities.

Chris T. said...

Oops, their. :-)

LutheranChik said...

Well...it's unfortuate that my curriculum has included material like the Gospel of Matthew -- you know, the creative-nonviolent resistance "turn the other cheek" dynamic -- and the works of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, because some of us may actually take that stuff to heart.

MikeF said...

Oh LC, I read all this with a heavy heart. Much as the ECUSA has made progress with all this, it's still all too much a live issue in the CofE, and still more so in the 'more evangelical' churches in the UK. I do wish we could read the Gospels, and follow our Lord! Praying for you...

LutheranChik said...

I think what stung most of all were the sneery homophobic comments I heard muttered by other people -- the sentiment, for instance, that the document was actually not exclusionary enough.

In the immortal words of Fox Mulder: Trust no one. Which is a damned sad commentary on the institutional church.

Emily said...

Ick. Just ick.

Rainbow Pastor said...

I wish there were something to say. Different denomination, but...Been there, done that.

((((LC)))))

Tom in Ontario said...

God dammit!

Excuse me.

In 2004 our synod said that within the context of our church's constitutions and enactments, our synod affirms the principle that all persons are welcome to full participation in the organizational and sacramental life of this church regardless of gender, race, ancestry, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, age, record of offences, marital status, sexual orientation, economic status, family status, or disability.

Now of course there are people within the church who differ with that statement to varying degrees but at least, as a synod, we could make that statement. And when people ask me I tell them this is what our church has said.

I'm sorry you had such a crappy start to your weekend.

cheesehead said...

This makes me so sad...

Verdugo said...

When you're geared up for battle-- when you know you're entering hostile territory and expecting a fight-- it's bad enough. But it must feel particularly awful to find yourself under attack in a place that has been in the past a place of affirmation, a place of empowerment, a place even of divine enounter. To have the rug pulled out from you now in this one place that had once been "sacred ground" must feel like the ultimate betrayal.

Sheryl said...

This really makes me sad on so many levels. First, that such pejudice still exists. And second, that we as Christans continue to dent the calling of some people, then lamrnt the fact that there aren't enough people to do "the Lord's work."

To be blunt, it just sucks.

LutheranChik said...

Well, I refuse to let my calling be dented.;-) And if I someday wind up worshipping/worshipping in the context of a different church body...well, I'll arrive with a most helpful theological education pre-loaded.;-) So it's kind of a win-win for me.;-)

Weekend Fisher said...

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.

... He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her ...
Woman, where are your accusers? Has no one condemned you?
Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more. ...

I can't figure if following Christ is the easiest thing in the world or the hardest. Myself, I wish I lived up to them better.

WeavingLibrarian said...

LC -

As another Lutheran who reads your blog occasionally, I am so sorry. We all have a long way to go, but some times I think the ELCA is headed backwards.

Take good care of yourself - we need you even if some of us can't see the forest for the trees.

SisterRose said...

I am new to this blog thing but I am also a lutheran and I am on our Leadership Team and boy do I know the disappoint you are feeling. My church and another church in the area have been working very hard at becoming a new church. We did everything we were told to do to become a "new mission start". Well to make a long story short we were lead on by our Synod then we got a letter from the Outreach committee and they said "no" we could not do this. Not only did they say we could not be a new mission start but they doubted our journey to start a new church. One of our guiding principals is "Creating a just community without barriers." Well, they took that as a political agenda and they also doubted we were going to be different then the other Lutheran churches in the area. None of these points they made were based on scripture and they admitted it as much. And nor did they give us any alteratives to what we wanted to do. So we had a meeting with the Bishop last week and now they are scrambling to find a way for us to start as a new church. But no guarantees were given. We have already put our church buildings up for sale then Synod pretty much says too bad. We did everything our "coach" told us to do, then this.
We have already chosen our new name - "Spirit of Hope" Community Church. And we will continue to go forward on the path that God has laid before us.
LutheranChik, we have met on two occasions - our team attend Transformation Ministry Training last March and you spoke at our Synod Assembly last May. I just heard how they cut your program short. That didn't make me very happy either with our Synod.

Thank you for "listening" to our problems with our Synod.

Peace!

LutheranChik said...

Sisterrose: Hmmm...I've never even been to a Synod Assembly, much less spoken at one, so I think you have me confused with some other LutheranChik. But I understand the frustration of feeling that the institutional church is trying to wring the neck of the Spirit.