Friday, January 19, 2007

Morning Backup: January 19, 2007: 08:30 EST

Bishop Salmon Goes to Heaven

January 19th, 2007 posted by kendall at 8:06 am

Check it out.

Elves say: No! Please don’t panic, he didn’t die! Just click the link, it’s great!

Virginia Church dispute headed to court

January 19th, 2007 posted by kendall at 7:55 am

Diocesan officials didn’t specify whether or when the congregations and their leadership are required to vacate the property, what the resulting consequences might be or how court action might affect that timeline.
“I think it’s premature in the process to know exactly what will happen next,” said Patrick Getlein, secretary of the diocese, in an e-mail to The Washington Times. “Today’s action by the Board was procedural, and I think that we will have to wait and see what exactly the next steps are in due course….”

“These churches are saddened, but, sadly, not surprised at what the diocese and what the national church have elected to do,” said Jim Pierobon, a spokesman for both congregations.
Though the congregations would like to settle the matter amicably out of court, they are prepared to handle a potential lawsuit, Mr. Pierobon said.
“We have absolutely no intention of leaving,” he said. “We are fully prepared to defend our rights in court and will protect our congregations’ property titles and rights to the full extent of the law.”
The titles of the property at Truro Church and the Falls Church list lay leaders — not clergy — as trustees on behalf of the congregations, Mr. Pierobon said.
“Our lawyers, after assessing the law, have concluded that the law in Virginia favors congregations — even within large denominations such as the Episcopal Church,” he said. “Denominational trusts in congregational property are not valid in the Commonwealth of Virginia.”

Read it all.

Update: An AP article is here also.

Atlanta Pastor’s Trial Rekindles Debates Over Noncelibate Gay Clergy

January 19th, 2007 posted by kendall at 7:51 am

Unlike the other major U.S. Lutheran body, the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, the 4.9 million-member ELCA allows openly gay clergy. Schmeling told both his bishop and congregation about his sexual orientation before he was chosen pastor.

ELCA spokesman John Brooks said that if a single, heterosexual pastor told his bishop that he was in a relationship outside of marriage and he refused to repent, he likely would face a similar disciplinary proceedings. When Warren announced in August that he was taking action against Schmeling, he said he wouldn’t comment until a verdict is rendered.

In 2005, delegates to an ELCA national meeting rejected a proposal to allow sexually active gays and lesbians to be ordained as pastors if they were in committed, long-term relationships. Opponents, including Schmeling, say the policy discriminates against gay clergy by forcing them to refrain from sex, while heterosexuals only have to wait for marriage.

“ELCA says it welcomes GLBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender) people but that welcome stops at committed relationships,” said Phil Soucy, spokesman of Lutherans Concerned, a group fighting for full inclusion of gays in the church.

Schmeling’s disciplinary hearing, which will be closed to the public, is expected to run through the weekend. Afterward, the 12-person committee – comprising of both clergy and lay people, including two members chosen by Schmeling – will have a couple weeks to decide whether to take action, which could include a suspension or removal from ordained ministry.

Schmeling’s congregation doesn’t even like to consider where that would land them.

“We want Bradley to be our pastor and we want to remain in ELCA,” congregation president Laura Crawley said. “If he’s removed from the roster, he’ll continue as pastor.”

While that could lead to disciplinary actions against St. John’s, the married mother of two said she hopes the church will reform itself by understanding that “we want our pastors to live in the world with us.”

Read it all.

Beliefs embolden newly elected diocesan bishop

January 19th, 2007 posted by kendall at 7:50 am

“I’m still digesting a lot of it,” Lawrence said. “Each day, I live with the reality of this election, and like a new shoe, it gets a little more comfortable.”

But since the recent election and consecration of Katharine Jefferts Schori, presiding bishop and primate of the Episcopal Church, rumbles of controversy have unsettled dioceses across the United States, many still smarting over the 2003 election of the Anglican Communion’s first openly gay bishop.

Lawrence says Jefferts Schori’s condoning of same-sex blessings while she was still bishop of the Nevada Diocese have compromised her ability to exercise her primatial authority. As a result, the Diocese of South Carolina, the San Joaquin Diocese and others have asked for primatial separation, which Lawrence says he supports.

Despite these issues, Lawrence says he’s ready to go forward, holding to the faith which has been understood historically by the church for hundreds of years. Within that context, he says he does not want to see the church take refuge in legalistic and doctrinal isolation, nor go the other extreme of being overly permissive to the point of being lax.

“This is no easy thing,” Lawrence said. “You don’t want to be narrow and confining to growth, but you don’t want to be so open to every wind of change that you lose yourself.”

Allison Lawrence, 53, has been married to Mark Lawrence for 33 years, and together they’ve raised five children. After about 25 years of supporting his work in the church, Allison says she knows there are storms ahead, but feels his election is part of a bigger plan.

“My husband has a part to play in the whole controversy,” Allison said. “I feel he’ll be a clear voice for an orthodox theology.”

Apart from doctrinal turmoil, Allison says she is excited at the prospect of moving and learning a new culture in Charleston, S.C., where some Anglican congregations date back to Revolutionary War times.

“I feel like I’m living someone else’s life, it’s been such a huge change,” Allison said. “I love Bakersfield and St. Paul’s church, but I take my happiness with me, I don’t expect the place to make me happy.”

At least part of her willing attitude comes, she says, from a deep commitment to follow God’s leading.

“I think God called us to go, and we said, ‘Yes,’” Allison said. “We’ve always viewed ministry as something we do together, with my husband in the front role. We follow Christ where he leads.”

Read the whole piece.


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