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c. 2000 Religion News Service

Lutherans Propose Compromise to Critics of Accord With Episcopalians

(RNS) The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) has proposed a compromise to pastors who object to ordination rules under a new full communion agreement with the Episcopal Church.

The “Called to Common Mission” agreement between Lutherans and Episcopalians, scheduled to take effect Jan. 1, will allow the churches to share clergy and joint mission projects but stops far short of an outright merger.

Several Lutheran factions, especially in the upper Midwest, oppose the agreement’s rules on ordinations. Under the accord, Lutherans agreed to adopt the Episcopal practice of ordination only by a bishop. New Lutheran ministers could no longer be ordained by other rank-and-file Lutheran clergy.

The ELCA’s Conference of Bishops, meeting in Chicago Oct. 5-10, offered a proposal that will be considered by the ELCA Church Council, which serves as the church’s board of directors between biennial churchwide assemblies.

Under the proposal, if a new pastor wishes to be “irregularly ordained” without a bishop, the synod’s bishop will consult with both the church’s presiding bishop and the synod council to make a “pastoral decision” on ordination.

If the Church Council agrees to the measure, it would offer a bylaw change to next summer’s Churchwide Assembly meeting in Indianapolis.

The Rev. Daniel Martensen, the church’s ecumenical liaison, cautioned that the compromise could cause concern in the Episcopal Church. “There are certainly voices within the Episcopal Church that would be raised as a matter of concern that we might be undermining (Called to Common Mission),” he said.

Still, opponents of the agreement say the proposed compromise would not address all of their concerns. Former Minnesota Gov. Al Quie is vice chair of the Word Alone Network, a grass-roots movement that opposes the Episcopal accord.

Quie said the ordination compromise would not soothe objections to the requirement that church bishops be installed into the “historic episcopate,” the line of bishops that traces its roots back to the early church.

“It’s the mandating of it, the historic episcopate, that we are primarily objecting to,” Quie said.

Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Adopts Stance on Homosexuality

(RNS) The moderate Cooperative Baptist Fellowship has adopted a position on homosexuality that its top executive describes as “welcoming but not affirming” of gays.

The Coordinating Council, or governing board, of the Atlanta-based fellowship voted Oct. 13 to adopt a “statement of organizational value” about causes or groups it will fund.

That statement declares that faithfulness in marriage and celibacy by singles are “the foundation of a Christian sexual ethic.”

“Because of this organizational value, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship does not allow for the expenditure of funds for organizations that condone, advocate or affirm homosexual practice,” it said, reported Associated Baptist Press, an independent news service.

The statement also says the fellowship forbids the “purposeful” hiring of gays as staff or missionaries of the organization.

The statement, approved by a 35-23 margin, marks the first time the organization has stated its position on homosexuality.

The statement also speaks of “the love and grace of God for all people, both those who live by this understanding of the biblical standard and those who do not.”

CBF Coordinator Daniel Vestal used the phrase “welcoming but not affirming,” found in the title of a book by theologian Stanley Grenz, to describe the CBF position.

He said the statement won’t be used to dictate the beliefs of any church, organization or individual.

“I have no interest whatever in excluding or demeaning or minimizing any in this fellowship who share a different perspective than this document,” he said.

The statement also says: “We treasure the freedom of individual conscience and the autonomy of the local church and we also believe that congregational leaders should be persons of moral integrity whose lives exemplify the highest standards of Christian conduct and character.”

Council members rejected a portion of the original recommendation that would have halted direct financial support of theology schools that affirm homosexuality. They requested further study of the possible effect of such a proposal on theology schools.

Rabbi Joins King of Pop to Highlight Children’s Needs

(RNS) Pop superstar Michael Jackson and Orthodox Rabbi Shmuley Boteach have teamed up to launch an initiative that will tackle children’s issues and promote family and community.

Jackson will serve as chairperson for the project “Time for Kids,” a collaborative effort by leaders in science, medicine, government, entertainment and business, according to Reuters news agency. He and Boteach will promote the initiative next February at the Oxford Union Society in England.

The two also will co-author a book about the lessons children can teach parents, said Boteach, author of the best-selling books “Kosher Sex: A Recipe for Passion and Intimacy” and “Dating Secrets of the Ten Commandments.”

“The idea that children can teach parents, that perhaps God gives us children not only to be raised but to enrich us, return us to Eden, beckon us to a more innocent state, is overlooked by adults,” Boteach said.

Christian Leaders Call for Prayer Before Election

(RNS) With the presidential election less than three weeks away, a number of Christian leaders are calling for a massive prayer movement to ask that God will place the right man in the White House.

The Rev. James Merritt, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, advised his 15.7 million-member church that they have a responsibility and civic obligation to vote on Election Day. Merritt asked Baptists to fast and pray that voters will elect “godly” men and women to public office.

“God’s people should certainly exercise the right and the responsibility of voting,” Merritt said. “I will join all Southern Baptists in praying that God’s will be done in America.”

Shirley Dobson, wife of radio talk-show host James Dobson, has launched a “Pray for Election Day” campaign to lobby pastors and religious leaders to vote Nov. 7.

“As a nation, we’ve lost our tradition of right and wrong, common decency and kindness,” Dobson said in a statement. “Only God, along with the commitment and courage exercised by people of faith, can restore truth and morality to our land.”

While none of the religious leaders would say whom they support or ask voters to vote for a certain candidate, one Colorado pastor said he was told by God that “God’s man” would lose the election without massive amounts of prayer.

Dutch Sheets, pastor of Springs Harvest Fellowship in Colorado Springs, Colo., sent out a widely distributed e-mail calling for a national fast leading up to the election.

“I believe if the election was held now, God’s purposes would not be established,” Sheets wrote, according to Charisma News Service. “In fact, the results would be such that his purposes for this nation would be set back for many, many years _ possibly decades.”

The nation’s Catholic bishops took a far less urgent tone and asked Catholics to read their statement, “Faithful Citizenship: Civic Responsibility for a New Millennium,” which calls on Catholics to vote out of civic duty.

“They hope all citizens will seize the opportunities of this democracy to help build a world of greater charity, justice and peace for all,” said Joan Rosenhauer of the bishops’ Department of Social Development and World Peace.

Update: Tutu Released From Hospital

(RNS) Archbishop Desmond Tutu was released Thursday (Oct. 19) from a private hospital in Cape Town, South Africa, after an overnight stay.

The 1984 Nobel Peace Prize winner said he felt “not too bad” after undergoing examinations, the Associated Press reported.

The 69-year-old Anglican archbishop underwent surgery in the United States for prostate cancer last November, and has since admitted that his recovery has been slow.

“I’ve been experiencing some discomfort and they were not able to pinpoint why,” he said. “I think I’ve got some inflammation.”

Odile Pearce, a spokeswoman for Tutu’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, established to investigate abuses committed during apartheid, had declined to identify which tests the archbishop was scheduled to undergo.

Tutu, awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his role in fighting apartheid in South Africa, returned to his country in August after teaching theology for two years at Emory University in Atlanta.

Swindoll Recuperating From Mild Heart Attack

(RNS) Dallas Theological Seminary President Chuck Swindoll was released from the hospital Wednesday (Oct. 18) after suffering a mild heart attack.

“He’s recuperating fine at home and expected back here at the seminary probably within a few weeks,” Mike Fluent, a spokesman for the seminary, told Religion News Service.

Swindoll suffered the heart attack at his Dallas-area home Oct. 14.

“Of course, any problem with the heart is unsettling, but Dr. Swindoll not only is free of pain, he’s already on the rebound,” said Mark Bailey, the seminary’s provost and vice president for academic affairs, in a statement.

Swindoll, who has been president of the seminary since 1994, is the author of 51 books and host of the international radio program “Insight for Living.”

Sixth Episcopal Priest Leaves Colorado Diocese

(RNS) A sixth Episcopal priest has left the Colorado diocese, saying the church has strayed too far from biblical teachings.

And the Rev. Robert J. Bryan has taken about 60 percent of his 300-member congregation in Monument with him.

Bryan said he didn’t like decisions by the national church that support unions outside marriage, both for heterosexual and homosexual people. The delegates to the July convention of the national church, which met in Denver,recognized that such unions exist and said the church should support those people in their effort to live in committed relationships.

Delegates and bishops decided against approving a liturgy to unite couples in unions outside marriage.

Bryan said he met with Colorado Episcopal Bishop Jerry Winterrowd and told him he is retiring as a priest in the diocese after 22 years.

“We continue to be saddened by these departures,” said Bob Franken,spokesman for the diocese.

In all six cases in the Colorado Diocese, the priests left the diocese, taking at least part of their congregations with them, and joined a national conservative movement called the Anglican Mission in America. They consider themselves part of the international Anglican movement, which includes the Episcopal Church. However, so far the Anglican Mission hasn’t been recognized by the archbishop of Canterbury, who heads the world’s 75 million Anglicans.

So far, more than 20 parishes across the country have joined the Anglican Mission in America.

Quote of the Day: Urban ministries adviser Amy Sherman

(RNS) “The Good Samaritan didn’t just toss a bunch of canned goods and religious tracts at the wounded person on the side of the road.”

Amy Sherman, urban ministries adviser at Trinity Presbyterian Church in Charlottesville, Va., speaking at a recent Faith in Action conference in Houston about the need for congregations to do more to meet social needs in their communities. She was quoted in the Wednesday (Oct. 18) report of Associated Baptist Press, an independent news service.


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