From the Worldwide Faith News archives

12 Wartburg Faculty Affirm Ccm, Call for Implementation Latitude

From News News <NEWS@ELCA.ORG>
Date 06 Apr 2000 15:00:04


April 6, 2000


     CHICAGO (ELCA) -- Twelve faculty members of Wartburg Theological
Seminary, Dubuque, Iowa, said in a March 31 position paper and open
letter to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) they
continue to support an ELCA proposal for full communion with The
Episcopal Church, known as "Called to Common Mission" (CCM).  The twelve
also said they support suggestions that seek some "latitude" in the
implementation of the proposal.
     Wartburg is one of eight ELCA seminaries.  Its faculty publicly
announced support for CCM before it was adopted by the 1999 ELCA
Churchwide Assembly in Denver.  In July a general convention of the
Episcopal Church will consider CCM.
     CCM creates possibilities for cooperative ministries, and it
allows for the exchange of clergy under certain circumstances.  It has
generated controversy in the ELCA.  Some are opposed to accepting the
"historic episcopate," a provision of the proposal that was adopted by
the ELCA.
     "We have been clear in our support for CCM," the Wartburg faculty
members said. "We are deeply concerned about the threats of schism
within the ELCA."  The Wartburg faculty members also said they are
concerned that "the same open charity of Christian liberty" be extended
to those who oppose the historic episcopate as was extended to the
Episcopal Church when the ELCA Churchwide Assembly voted to enter the
historic episcopate.
     For some ELCA members, CCM is not acceptable because it requires
the ELCA to accept the historic episcopate -- a succession of bishops
back to the earliest days of the Christian church.  With that, Lutheran
bishops must preside at all ordinations and Lutheran bishops must be
installed in the presence of other bishops already in the historic line
of succession.  Those opposed to CCM say the historic episcopate
violates traditional Lutheran confessions.
     The Wartburg faculty members said they "heartily support" a
pastoral letter issued by the ELCA Conference of Bishops last month and
urge the ELCA Church Council to affirm the direction proposed by the
bishops.  The council meets April 8-9 in Chicago.
     In their pastoral letter, the bishops said they "invite the
exploration of possible ways to allow a synodical bishop, in unusual
circumstances and with appropriate consultation, to authorize another
ELCA pastor to preside at an ordination."  They also asked the ELCA
Church Council, in consultation with the presiding bishop, to pursue the
idea in "consultation in this church and with the Episcopal Church."
     ELCA clergy should not be forced to violate their consciences
regarding the historic episcopate "any more than we have forced the
Episcopal Church to violate their consciences regarding their necessity
of the historic episcopate for unity," the Wartburg faculty members
     The faculty members cited the "Treatise on the Power and Primacy
of the Pope," by Philipp Melanchthon, a 16th century scholar who
authored the "Augsburg Confession," a foundational document of the
Lutheran Church.  Melanchthon was a colleague of Martin Luther.
     The treatise said ordination administered by a pastor in his own
church is valid by "divine right." Some provision for pastoral
ordination needs to be made for those who understand the Lutheran
confessions to be violated by adoption of an historic episcopate, the
faculty members said.
     "The ELCA needs to develop a provision that, in Christian liberty,
respects the Christian freedom and the conscience of the ordinand and
allows pastoral ordination affirmed as valid by the Confessions," the
faculty members said. "If the Church Council explicitly allows clear
provision for alternative ordination, then the procedure suggested by
the bishops' pastoral letter may work."
     "Finally, we, in full support of CCM, would thus affirm latitude
in the implementation of CCM," the faculty members concluded.
     Wartburg faculty who signed the letter are the Rev. James L.
Bailey, professor of New Testament and Endowed Chair of Theology; the
Rev. Roger W. Fjeld, professor of church history emeritus and president
emeritus; the Rev. Ann L. Fritschel, assistant professor, Hebrew Bible;
Dr. L. Shannon Jung, director of rural ministry, Schools of Theology in
Dubuque; the Rev. Duane H. Larson, president; Dr. Elizabeth A. Leeper,
associate professor of church history; the Rev. Craig L. Nessan,
associate professor of contextual theology and academic dean; the Rev.
Daniel L. Olson, professor of pastoral care; the Rev. Winton D. Persaud,
professor of systematic theology; the Rev. Duane A. Priebe, Kent S.
Knutson professor of systematic theology; the Rev. Ralph W. Quere,
professor of history and theology; and the Rev. Gwen B. Sayler,
associate professor of Old Testament.
     A cover letter with the position paper noted that other faculty
members at Wartburg may not have had an opportunity to discuss or sign
the document.

For information contact:
John Brooks, Director (773) 380-2958 or NEWS@ELCA.ORG

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