Mark S. Hanson, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, has announced that he will be available as a nominee next year for a second six-year term as presiding bishop. The ELCA’s 2007 biennial Churchwide Assembly will meet August 6-12 at Navy Pier in Chicago, the denomination’s headquarters city.
The largest Lutheran denomination in the U.S. has reported that its baptized membership was 4.85 million in 10,549 congregations last year, a one-year decrease of about 1.6 percent and the 14th straight annual decline in membership.
One Sunday morning in 1960, the Episcopal pastor of a 2,500-member parish in suburban Los Angeles told his congregation that he and 70 other members had been “speaking in tongues." At the end of the service, an assistant priest pulled off his vestments and stalked out, saying, “I can no longer work with this man!” Tumult reigned. One man stood on a chair, shouting, “Throw out the damn tongue-speakers!”
David L. Miller has resigned as editor of The Lutheran, the magazine of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, to take an academic post. Miller will accept a five-year position as dean of the chapel and director of spiritual formation at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, the ELCA announced recently. Miller has been on the magazine’s staff since 1987.
United Methodists have taken the first step toward full communion with Episcopalians and most Lutherans after their bishops approved an agreement to share the Eucharist, with members of the two other denominations.
The Vatican order to prohibit Jesuit priest Roger Haight from teaching Catholic theology unless “his positions have been corrected” to conform with church doctrine recently was condemned by Haight’s fellow theologians and welcomed by the Doctrine Committee of the U.S. Catholic Bishops. At issue is Haight’s 1999 book, Jesus: Symbol of God.
The bishops of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, meeting in early March, acknowledged that they were too divided to offer “a definitive word of advice” on a recommendation that regional synods restrain from disciplining churches that ordain gay clergy.
If this summer’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in America convention follows the advice of a sexuality task force to selectively permit ordination of homosexual pastors without fear of church discipline, the denomination will suffer “structural dissolution” and, at the local level, “intense division and disunity,” contends a group of influential Lutheran theologians and clergy.