Good News, 08.27.09

Friends:

It’s not enough to have lived.  We should be determined to live for something.  May I suggest that it be creating joy for others, sharing what we have for the betterment of humankind, bringing hope to the lost and love to the lonely?  Leo Buscaglia

Health Care Dialogue: We will meet again this Sunday right after the service. Mark Miller invites you to join the group who will look at arguments for and against health care reform.

Our thanks and congratulations to Christine Johansson who has agreed to serve as our next Deacon of Youth and Family!

Peace Middle School Youth Group:
There will be an informational meeting for kids and parents about the Youth Group on Sunday Sept. 15th right after Church.  Ceil McCloy will lead the group and during that meeting we will go over the Middle School Youth committments and also some ideas for the fall.  The St. Francis Animal Blessing and Festival on October 4 where we helped last year, is asking for our help this year too.  Peace has invested in recycling containers and we have voluntered to take them to the recycling center (and keep the proceeds for the Youth Group!).  If there are other Middle School kids (including your friends) that might be interested in joining our Group please pass this information along.

The St. Francis Animal Blessing and Festival Committee meets after worship this Sunday.  It’s already a group of 18 people.  Others may join us – more involvment will mean more fun.  Your ideas are welcomed.

Fr. Carl Gracely’s 100th Birthday will be celebrated at John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek on Thursday August 27th.  In addition to Fr. Carl’s birthday this is an affirmation of the very successful Pastoral Care programming that he envisioned and implemented in partnership with our Pastoral Care Services Board, community congregations, medical staff and hospital administration of John Muir Hospital.  Our own Chaplain Dwane Michael inherited the mantle and has been serving as the Senior Chaplain at John Muir for the past 20 years.  Congratulations Fr. Carl!

Here’s a note from Tom Grossman about an incident on their “family vacation”: We did have an incredible family service experience while backpacking last week – we came to the aid of a horse rider with a serious head injury that eventually required helicopter evacuation. Sarah ended up walking out a couple of middle-school boys in her party who didn’t have any warm clothes; she hiked the trail three times. Caroline helped signal the helicopters and also spoon-fed the patient and her boyfriend who was holding c-spine with both hands for hours.  (Editor’s Comment: Rescue efforts by members of Peace may not be as dramatic as this one, but I know they are happening week after week!)

Please keep Margaret Bender and the unemployed in your prayers.

Pr. Anita shared a story about moving from seclusion to transformation this past Sunday.  The church at large needs our prayer in this time of transition.  We also recognize this day has been a long time coming for many of us.  Here is an article about the decision made at the national ELCA convention.

ELCA Assembly Opens Ministry to Partnered Gay and Lesbian Lutherans

MINNEAPOLIS (ELCA) – The 2009 Churchwide Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) voted today to open the ministry of the church to gay and lesbian pastors and other professional workers living in committed relationships.

The action came by a vote of 559-451 at the highest legislative body of the 4.6 million member denomination. Earlier the assembly also approved a resolution committing the church to find ways for congregations that choose to do so to “recognize, support and hold publicly accountable life-long, monogamous, same gender relationships,” though the resolution did not use the word “marriage.”

The actions here change the church’s policy, which previously allowed gays and lesbians into the ordained ministry only if they remained celibate.

Throughout the assembly, which opened Aug. 17, the more than 1,000 voting members have debated issues of human sexuality. On Wednesday they adopted a social statement on the subject as a teaching tool and policy guide for the denomination.

The churchwide assembly of the ELCA is meeting here Aug. 17-23 at the Minneapolis Convention Center. About 2,000 people are participating, including 1,045 ELCA voting members. The theme for the biennial assembly is “God’s work. Our hands.”

Before discussing the thornier issues of same-gender unions in the ordained ministry, the assembly approved, by a vote of 771-230, a resolution committing the church to respect the differences of opinions on the matter and honor the “bound consciences” of those who disagree.

During the hours of discussion, led by ELCA Presiding Bishop Mark S. Hanson, the delegates paused several times each hour for prayer, sometimes as a whole assembly, sometimes in small groups around the tables where the voting members of the assembly sat, debated and cast their votes.

Discussion here proved that matters of sexuality will be contentious throughout the church. A resolution that would have reasserted the church’s current policy drew 344 votes, but failed because it was rejected by 670 of the voting members.
Pastor Richard Mahan of the ELCA West Virginia-Western Maryland Synod was among several speakers contending that the proposed changes are contrary to biblical teaching. “I cannot see how the church that I have known for 40 years can condone what God has condemned,” Mahan said, “Nowhere does it say in scripture that homosexuality and same sex marriage is acceptable of God.”

But others said a greater acceptance of people who are gay and lesbian in the church was consistent with the Bible. Bishop Gary Wollersheim of the ELCA Northern Illinois Synod said, “It’s a matter of justice, a matter of hospitality, it’s what Jesus would have us do.” Wollersheim said he had been strongly influenced by meetings with youth at youth leadership events in his synod, a regional unit of the ELCA.

Some speakers contend that the actions taken here will alienate ELCA members and cause a drop in membership. But Allison Guttu of the ELCA Metropolitan New York Synod said, “I have seen congregations flourish while engaging these issues; I have seen congregations grow recognizing the gifts of gay and lesbian pastors.”

During discussion of resolutions on implementation of the proposals, Bishop Kurt Kusserow of the ELCA Southwestern Pennsylvania Synod asked that the church make clear provision in its policies to recognize the conviction of members who believe that this church cannot call or roster people in a publicly accountable, lifelong, monagamous, same-gender relationship. A resolution that the denomination consider a proposal for how it will exercise flexibility within its existing structure and practices to allow Lutherans in same gender relationship to be approved for professional service in the church. That resolution passed by a vote of 667-307.

Blessings, Pr. Steve