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[LCMSNews] Kieschnick addresses ELCA assembly
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Thu, 14 Aug 2003 09:14:37 -0500
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August 14, 2003 .................... LCMSNews -- No. 91
Kieschnick addresses ELCA assembly
Missouri Synod President Gerald B. Kieschnick Aug. 13 told the
Churchwide Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA)
that scheduled theological discussions will be important for improving
relationships between the two church bodies.
The biennial ELCA assembly is meeting Aug. 11-17 in Milwaukee.
LCMS and ELCA leaders have agreed to begin in November new
discussions of theological issues that have divided them. It has been
several years since the two bodies held specifically doctrinal
discussions. Both Kieschnick and ELCA Presiding Bishop Mark S. Hanson
have taken office since those talks were held.
Bringing greetings to the ELCA assembly, Kieschnick said the
talks "are important for maintaining hope for healing wounded
relationships, for strengthening tenuous associations, for addressing
honestly and openly the doctrinal disagreements that exist between our
two churches, and for nurturing the cooperative work that we do
together." The two church bodies cooperate in various human-care
endeavors throughout the United States and internationally.
"It is only in Christ and His Word that we can find healing for
those issues that divide us, and He is the one who has the power to
strengthen relationships between us," Kieschnick said.
Kieschnick encouraged the ELCA assembly in its pursuit of an
evangelism strategy for the church body. A proposed strategy on
evangelism was presented to the assembly Aug. 12.
"I encourage your pursuit of this all-important cause, in accord
with God's holy and perfect will, and pray that you will 'be a dynamic
church of disciples who give joyful witness to Jesus as Savior and
Lord,'" Kieschnick said, quoting from the proposed strategy.
Efforts to witness to Christ have their challenges, Kieschnick
said. He added, "Foremost among the challenges to the Church's witness
to the world is remaining faithful to Holy Scripture as we study and
respond to some of the great moral issues of the day." Among those, he
cited specifically the decision of the Episcopal Church, USA to approve
the election of Rev. Gene Robinson, who is openly homosexual, to be
bishop of New Hampshire.
"While it is clear from God's Word that His forgiving love in
Jesus Christ is constant for all people, this action nevertheless
constitutes a momentous break from the Christian Church's
2,000-year-long understanding of what Holy Scriptures teach about
homosexual behavior as contrary to God's will and the biblical
qualifications for holding the pastoral office," Kieschnick said. He
said that the Episcopal Church's action will provoke controversy
throughout the Anglican Communion and "all of Christendom."
He referred also to the ELCA's current study that may lead to
recommendations to the 2005 Churchwide Assembly to develop a policy on
blessing same-gender relationships and whether or not people in such
relationships should be pastors or lay ministers of the church.
"I pray that your study and deliberation of this matter will be
made in the light of the biblical understanding of human sexuality and
the qualifications for the pastoral office," Kieschnick said. "It is my
fervent prayer that God the Holy Spirit will guide you, our brothers and
sisters in Christ, as you wrestle with this matter in the months and
years to come."
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