Posts Tagged ‘Lutheranism’

Pope reaffirms ban on women priests, assails disobedience.

So celibacy and maleness is the priesthood Jesus instituted on Maundy Thursday that Shalt Never be struck asunder…

Yet it was the women who stayed with him til the end of Good Friday, and it was to Mary Magdalene that the good news of the resurrection was shown to share with the others.

Ohh extra biblical sources for the institution? What about the provision of non-celibate Roman Catholic Priests who have come into communion with Rome via leaving the Anglican Communion; Lutheran Pastorate or Eastern Church Rites? They are not celibate, yet they are still recognized as priests…

So it leaves one to wonder, if this is simply misogyny at its worst? Wolves in sheeps clothing, or barriers bathed in Jesus-speak.

Multimedia is Mainstream

Multimedia is Mainstream (Photo credit: mtsofan)

United Church of Canada

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Just finished persuing Reginald Bibby‘s new book, Beyond the Gods & Back. Much information and statistics on the shift within Canada away from a communal religious yet diverse story to a very diverse and spiritual story.  What struck me, as someone who renewed their faith in the liberal mainline protestant church from 1931-2001 a drastic drop in memberships that has led to mainline churches closing a church aweek.

We have seen the United Church, the largest mainline denom in Canada go from boasting 20% of the population as members to down to 10%; Anglicans go from 16 to 7% (and that is anglicans, not specific denoms of Anglicans, so even with the upheavals and “new” orthodox Anglicans, they are still arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic).  Presbyterians as a whole have gone from 8% to 1% and Lutherans from 4% to 2% oh and those Baptists that keep trying to rebrand, and split apart? They have gone from 4 to 3%.

Thanks to immigration Roman Catholicism which has taken a hit through scandals and such, has balanced at 43% of the population outside of Quebec (and is posting almost presbyterian stats within Quebec).

The only one that has seen growth during this past 70 years? Pentecostals. A tradition focused most on mystical experience and community.

What does this mean?

Simply put religion, more specifically Christendom is undergoing a new reformation within Canada. This reformation is shattering the old tribal norms of being born into loyalty to a denomination.  The renewal is focused not on plug and play programming, but on relevance and true family (community). The old stodgy doctrines, and pews, and hellfire sermons are passe, the idea of social justice above religion is passe…what is truly needed is community, justice and life informed and permeated by spirituality and faith.

Is the church up to the challenge? Or will we continue to split and rebrand in an attempt to keep what we are comfortable with?

Doubt (2008 film)

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English: Philip Seymour Hoffman at a Hudson Un...

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English: Meryl Streep
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So after Sunday’s sermon where Pastor Doug used the movie Doubt, which led me online to my favourite movie rental palace, The Calgary Public Library to rewatch this movie. The plot is quite simple a priest is under suspicion of molesting the first African American Student in his catholic school/parish.

The head sister (played by Meryl Streep) watches this man with effiminate actions, who has a passion/connection to working with the youth of the parish and encouraging them, calling them out of class…and begins to doubt that it is all above board.

The crescendo moves to a powerful scene where she lies and says she called his past parish and spoken to the nun there (a lie) that led the priest (played by Philip Seymour Hoffman) to resign and take a leave of absence until the Bishop reassigns him to a bigger parish (a promotion if you will).

The question though arises is what she phrases at the end: “I have doubts”. Did this lie force an innocent man into a quasi confession? Did the church actually protect and reward an abuser? Was enough done? What kind of society is created by the church where parents turn a blind eye to these behaviours? Does the institution/system work? And if so for who? And a litany of other doubts I am sure.

Why is this movie important? First it can help one understand how clergy can use their position of authority/power to gain power over their victims when they are not men/women seeking God.  It also is important because the doubts raised in this stalwart nun’s heart in regards to church over this, is a good conversation starter for each of our congregations about where we have created doubt in our church family, and broader community through our actions (inactions).



302-393 Portage Ave. Winnipeg MB R3B 3H6
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From the National
Office of the ELCIC

Responses to Proposed ELCIC Social Statement on
Human Sexuality Mixed but Respectful

Saskatoon, 15 July 2011 — Members of the Evangelical Lutheran
Church in Canada’s (ELCIC) Human Sexuality Task Force responded to questions
Thursday night from convention delegates regarding the proposed Social Statement
on Human Sexuality. The document is the result of a four-year process involving:
a study guide, church-wide feedback process, a draft statement that allowed for
further feedback opportunities, and the proposed statement.

Task force chairperson Judy Wry presented the three-part
document, developed according to an ELCIC policy for social statements. The
statement analyzes the current social problem, provides biblical theological
foundations, and applies insights from the first two sections to the
contemporary situation.

Beginning in
2007, the task force first surveyed ELCIC synods for input, then incorporated
feedback into a study document that was widely distributed. The more than 500
responses were reviewed and the task force prepared a first draft. This again
was distributed widely and feedback was incorporated, with final theological
review by the bishops.

In her
presentation to convention delegates, Wry said the task force’s work was
informed by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s 2001 process, previous
ELCIC synod work, and a related 1970 statement of the predecessor church.

Convention then entered into a session for
Committee of the Whole whereby it departed from parliamentary procedure to allow
delegates time for questions and comments.

Responses to the proposed social statement covered a wide range
of topics, including the definition of family, the role of scripture in drafting
the document, the definition of marriage, the intent of the statement, and
issues of morality and salvation. Many delegates thanked the task force for
their work.

Some delegates
criticized the statement, arguing that its recommendations and purpose were
unclear. Others said that the statement departed from traditional Biblical
interpretation or did not adequately incorporate scripture.

“Scripture is not given enough weight here,” said one
delegate. “The authority that we have quoted is civil law or human rights. Not
enough authority is drawn from scripture.”

Other delegates urged for the proposed statement to be

“I appreciated the breadth
and how it captured the complexity of situation,” said one delegate. She praised
the task force for addressing broader issues of human exploitation and the
idolatry of sexuality in current culture.

Some delegates spoke to how the statement had already led to
change in their communities. One pastor shared a letter from a person in her
congregation who found the statement “bold, sensitive, forward-thinking and
inclusive.” After reading the proposed statement, this person asked to have her
children baptized in the church.

fielded questions and comments with support from other task force members. After
task force member Rev. Sonja Free closed the session in prayer, ELCIC National
Bishop Susan C. Johnson thanked delegates for the “respect and love” that
characterized the discussion.

Friday’s business sessions, delegates will have an opportunity to debate the
specific motions put forward by National Church Council relating to the

Members of the Human
Sexuality Task force members are Bishop Steven Kristenson, Rev. Dr. Richard
Crossman, Rev. Sonja Free, Rev. Jim Hill, Nadine Smith, Rebecca Ulrich, and Judy
Wry. Rev. Paul Gehrs provided staff support.

·        The Proposed Statement on Human Sexuality is available

Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada is Canada’s largest Lutheran denomination
with 152,500 baptized members in 607 congregations. It is a member of the
Lutheran World Federation, the Canadian Council of Churches and the World
Council of Churches.

Material provided through ELCIC Information is
intended for reproduction and redistribution by recipients in whatever manner
they may find useful.

For more information, please contact:
Gallop, Director of Communications
302-393 Portage Ave. Winnipeg MB R3B

Subscribe or
unsubscribe to ELCIC Information by emailing with a short

I do hope this actually stimulates some conversation.

To Members/Adherents of the Presbyterian Church in Canada; Free Lutheran Church; Evangelical Lutheran Church of Canada; Anglican Church of Canada; Lutheran Church-Canada; United Church of Canada; Disciples of Christ; and the Mennonite Churches;

It is becoming increasingly obvious that our churches are struggling under mortgages; building upkeeps; faltering clergy numbers; shrinking rural congregations, and urban congregations that are bequeathed with monies that may keep them running for years after the last member has passed away.

But is this keeping with our commission to build the Kingdom (a community of inclusion, empowerment and love) here on Earth? What if there is another way?  A way that shows the true blessings of the body of Christ?  the answer is before us, with many examples of how it can be accomplished the choice though is are we willing to set aside our ego, our tribalism and our beliefs that we are right, and the other is wrong.

Let us throw off the institutional shackles that bind us to rearranging the deck chairs on the titanic.  Let us bring about a more trades style model of mentoring, and online learning to equip new clergy serving under experienced clergy.  Let us dismantle the multiple levels of governance that bind the church into its death cycle.

What would happen if we all sold our buildings and gave the money to organizations on mass to end the plights of our nation?  What if we dissasembled synods/diocese/presbyteries/conferences/districts and redirected that money to international relief efforts through organizations like the UN and Red Cross (merging our denominational relief efforts into such institutes ; what if we redistributed our congregations back into local communities with as Martin Luther phrased it, Simple Pastors, to meet in people’s living rooms for bible studies and yes even worship and meals…if the local area spoke to a larger need, then possibly renting community centre space for services or space in a mosque or Sikh temple?

What if we took a chance on actually living and working together in community for the better without the burden of real estate? without worries on where the money to replace the roof, build the ramps, fix the parking lot, replace the furnace, what if the basement floods again, what about keeping the power on, and hte list goes on and on…

What if we took the leap of faith to actually be a faith family together…perhaps showing our new found freedom by release of the institution by christening this new body the Free Church of God?

Is there a resonance to begin this movement? To truly reform and rebuild the church in Canada as a true soul, not just a fading institution on the horizon?


Ty Ragan

Yesterday’s note “Raibow Cooperative” was the genesis of this idea that I continue to flush out in my heart, soul and mind.  The idea of needing to move beyond labels.  What labels you ask? Well there are the obvious ones: typically/differently abled; hetero-LGBTT sexuality; black-yellow-etc; chinese, canadian, american, etc…all those we use to divide (Buddhist, Catholic, Orthodozx, Hindu, Scientologist, etc) and within my own tradition Lutheran, Anglican, Presbyterian, United, Baptist, etc. 

I personally believe what we need to move to is a simple understanding that we are all created in the beautiful image of our Creator, and that we are all called good and blessed, beloved even… that is we have inherent worth and goodness within.

The challenge before us is to throw down our labels, let go of our petty human pride and look at our world and say, what can we do to work together in harmony to care for the least of these?

To be honest, how many religious institutions whether they be educational or worship are struggling to make ends meet, yet on the land and can be erected affordable and accessible housing for all ages? How many could redirect funds that are being frought to keep the lights on to actually innoculating children overseas? Monies used to keep the building heated that could ensure free public day care?

The big discernment for the religious moving forward is not whether to stay or go, whether to live or die, it is to throw of our institutional shackles, clean out the abusers, and illuminate the light of the Holy Mystery into our wqorld once more through affordable housing, pallative care, day care, basic needs turned into miracles globally by our chjoice to move into what an actual charitable entity is in Canada, more than keeping the lights on, but freeing ourselves to live out our ffaith stories to help our brothers and sisters move out of the struggle of life and into new life. To move from the power base of the world, the oppressor, the opiate of the masses if you will, to be the actual soul of our world. It begins with joint dialogue, understanding our shared story, and not worrying about who is and isn’t seeing paradise, but how to create the world we are called to create here on earth.

SO are we willing to move beyond our own egos? Are we willing to actually walk our talk?


  The challenge of being a father to a differently abled child in the church is that churches trapped in the Modernist Paradigm do not see them as they truly are, people. We tried two different churches over the summer.  I decided to inform my discernment committee my heart was not in the ministerial call, which it wasn’t, the congregations reaction to my son had ripped my soul apart with this church that had meant so much to me.

  Hillhurst United presents as a progressive church, but it is highly barriered for move those around who require assistance. The music is awesome, and the preaching is good, unfortunately no one would talk to us, and when we took our son to Sunday School, they would sneak him down to the Baby’s Nursery not knowing what to do with them.  It was the day I caught them doing this, taking Leland out to the car, when he gave me a big hug and said “Love you Da” that I knew we needed something different.

  We tried the United Church in our community, Robert McClure, but found after 3 weeks that unfortunately not even our 2 year old, Justina, was being fed.

  We were trapped in a conundrum, because we truly believed in the Creeds and statements of faith of the UCC as a family, yet we were unwelcome in the United Church (funny I know).  Shawna and I were part of a book club, with a friend of mine, Nicholas, from my Anglican Church days, and he mentioned a progressive Lutheran Church he was apart of in the “Holy Cul de Sac” of the Properties.

  It was better than not attending a church, we understood that the ELCIC (Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada) was struggling with the question of human sexuality, but unlike some churches were talking openly about it, and bleeding members on both sides of the equation. We considered St. Thomas More, but discovered the priests had been removed from the diocese, and the new leadership was not taking it in a good direction.

  I delivered my official resignation to Foothills United from their church council and from membership, the UCC, while progressive on paper was trapped in a severe death spasm that was going to play out (much like the Presbyterian and Anglican church, how I pray human ego could be removed so the main line church in Canada could get together as one voice, one body, so as not to loose this strong progressive Christian voice).


Chapter Seven

  My return to Foothills truly was bringing my pilgrimage of spiritual discovery to a close.  I was taking services, working with Rob to be innovative, such as improving the sound system, using power point, we had an autistic member of the church who was a puppeteer and had active puppets.

  The Spirit hit me hard to begin to discern my calling to ministry and become serious about it. I entered discernment with the United Church of Canada to decide if I was meant to actually be an Ordained Minister, Diaconal Minister, Designated Lay Minister or not.  This is a good process, as the local congregation, and wider church come around you to support you.  I was also the representative to Presbytery and completed a course from Queen’s on United Church Polity. An aside as we talk of mainline churches being overburdened by out of date institutional structures, that is the UCC with four levels of governance that could easily be stripped down to congregational and national.

  During discernment I left Hull and returned to the Mustard Seed as Street Level Manager, I also had 3 books published and was dating a single mum I had known for years and always had an on again, off again thing with her. It was a long distance thing as she was from Moose Jaw, SK.

  It was also during discernment, that St. Andrew’s College in February 2009 invited me to their Winter Refresher. This was an amazing four days of celebration, prayer, learning and discussion with clergy and laity from the church around western Canada.

  It was during this time I was illuminated with a moment of clarity within my journey, and it was time to become healthy again.  I cancelled the second leg of my holiday, and broke things off with the lady I was with.  Both happy and sad even though I enjoyed her company, we were too different in our ideas of life, but more importantly I was with her simply out of fear of being alone and that was not a healthy reason to continue.

  I spent an extra week in Saskatoon on personal retreat, just being, writing, exploring, and reflecting. Landing home I was re-invigorated to move forward. Move forward I did as I met the true love of my life online, and things started to click and mesh.

  My family came together. I invited Shawna to come to church with me, and we started attending as a family. Foothills was primed to be a beacon of progressiveness in Bowness, yet they were challenged by still living in old systems.

  A youth group balanced of older young adults, and teenagers.  The older young adults were 3 differently abled individuals.  The Sunday school was small, but bonding, and yes included two children who were differently abled.

  Yet they decided I was not who they wanted moving them forward in their children and youth ministries. The young adults discovered they were out of the youth group via congregational meeting minutes (also how they discovered that I was no longer their youth leader) when they announced the search for a new youth leader.

  Much pain, as I moved towards completing my discernment. The final straw was over hearing individuals in the church say they did not believe my son should be in church (he has cerebral palsy). As a family we decided to take a summer break from the church in upheaval, and visit other churches.