Important Comment


The comment of Pastor Keith Hunsinger (here), a member of the ELCA Church Council, deserves notice.


6 Responses to “Important Comment”

  1. Pastor Randy Palm Says:

    Mindful of Luther’s explanation of the 8th Commandment that we “interpret everything our neighbor does in the best possible light”, I would like to be certain, Dr Root and Pastor Keith, that I understand correctly what is being said with regard to the ELCA Church Council. Is it your position that the proposed policy revisions by the ELCA Church Council do not reflect the promises made at the Assembly?

    • Pastor Keith A. Hunsinger Says:

      Yours is a fair question, Pastor Palm and one I have spent a great deal of time and prayer trying to observe.

      At the Church Council meeting (and I am told at the Bishops’ meting prior) Stan Olson, who is the executive in charge of V & E gave a presentation on the practical implications of what the proposals would mean if implemented. He rightly pointed out that there was no “local option” in the past and to create one would require a rewriting of the governing documents. There was no sentiment in the room to do so especially in that it would have required doing so “on the spot”.

      As long as we adhere to the concept of one roster for the ELCA and the absolute right of a congregation to call ANY rostered person they wish, then the only possible limit to that would be a refusal of a bishop to sign the call papers. Even that has a limited impact as there have been a number of “pastors” serving without the endorsement of a bishop either because they had been removed (often in regards to their revealing they were not living in compliance with V & E) or they had been ordained in an irregular fashion. Those congregations have rarely been disciplined and those “pastors” have been seated at assemblies both synodical and churchwide (though officially as lay members).

  2. Michael Root Says:

    No, that is not exactly what I am saying. I have tried so far to be obedient to the 8th Commandment as the Catechism explains it. I am saying, I think, three things:
    1) The proposals and arguments of the Task Force pointed, though not unambiguously, toward a significant range of possibilities for various groups to exercise bound conscience. Reference to the wide range of persons and groups that could exercise bound conscience was removed by the Church Council (line 625 of the Recommendations, if you have a copy. You can see the changes, described as not substantive, here, by clicking on “view the changes.” Because this change was described as merely editorial, I think a significant number of people did not notice what had been changed. At least in retrospect, it is clear that these changes did clarify the proposal of the Task Force in a particular direction, toward a uniform national policy and away from a significant possibility for various groups to exercise conscience..
    2) Promises made at the Assembly were not specific about just what it meant to ‘respect bound conscience’ or who would get to claim such (only individuals or also synods, bishops, candidacy committees). Promises were heard differently by different people.
    3) By defining various actions as purely procedural, the proposed revisions narrow further the range of occasions in which conscience might come into play.
    One can interpret all of this as an attempt to create a workable process that will preserve,as much as possible, the unity of the ministerium in the ELCA. These are not, in the abstract, unworthy goals. My initial point was simply that the creation, as far as possible, of a uniform national policy and the careful fencing in of bound conscience cannot be justified by the arguments presented by the Task Force, which presented no argument for a uniform policy of accepting partnered gay and lesbian candidates.
    I will make another, fairly long post on this topic, but it will be the weekend before I can get to it. Classes, etc., call.

  3. Pr. Michael Jannett Says:

    Here’s what I posted on 9/14 (under “Implementation 2”). Looks like we are going down the path I suggested in that post, which is included again here:

    Dr. Root,
    Unfortunately, I agree with your assesment. (Unfortunately, because I see trouble here, as well.) When I find myself explaining (to the parishioners here) the 4 postions proposed by our social statement, I am distressed to point out that our Ministry Policy changes basically “pick one” of the 4 positions. The other trouble is that those 4 positions present 4 separate theologies of sorts. Not sure, but it seems like the ELCA Church Council will simply be picking one of those positions and moving forward in that way.


  4. Karl E. Moyer Says:

    As a lay voting member, when I saw and heard the words about respecting the bound consciences “of all,” that was pretty clear: “all” means “everyone,” doesn’t it? So your wife’s or my wife’s consciences are to be respected just as much as those of Professor Root or Bp Sauer or Seminarian John Doe — or of ANY ELCA member. Am I missing anything here?

    • Michael Root Says:

      The question is whether the ‘all’ is only individuals or also corporate bodies, such as synods, candidacy committees, seminaries, etc. If1) only individuals can exercise ‘bound conscience,’ and 2) respect for bound conscience means only tolerating dissent as long as it does not block national policy, then the provision for bound conscience means very little.

      Michael Root

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