Tuesday, May 01, 2007

The best Synod Assembly Resolution ever?

I wrote earlier about a controversial matter that will be debated in Synod Assemblies, and the ELCA Churchwide Assembly, between now and this August. Today I just discovered the following among the resolutions submitted to the the Oregon Synod Assembly.
This resolution was received by deadline, but has not at the time of this printing been reviewed by the Reference and Counsel Committee. Reference and Counsel Guidelines and Process for Handling Memorials and Resolutions are printed in the front of this Bulletin of Reports.

TITLE: Oregon Synod Kurt Rizer Memorial Coffee Fund Resolution
SPONSORS : Sunset Cluster Pastors, Mark C. Pederson, Matthew Eagan, Susan Kintner, Michelle Manicke, Steuart Holland, Bob McIntyre, Laurie Larson Caesar, Eric Burtness, Jeff Kallevig, Karl Pishaw, Mark Brocker, Tom Struck, Don Parsons

Whereas Kurt Rizer was a pioneer in the use of technology in pastoral ministry, particularly in the use of the cell phone, the palm pilot and the lap top computer, and

Whereas Kurt was liberated, first by the grace of God through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and secondly, by such technology that freed him from his church office, “I can work anywhere I want and still be in touch with my congregation,” Kurt became a pioneer in doing ministry at coffee shops, and

Whereas Kurt was one of those rare pastors with great intellect, deep compassion, and an appreciation for a good cup of coffee, and

Whereas many of us in the Sunset Cluster and throughout the Synod have enjoyed a cup of coffee with Kurt during which conversations he would inevitably lean in and ask sincerely, “how are you?” and

Whereas the act of sharing our deepest hurts and hopes, joys and sorrows, successes and failures with a fellow Christian in a spirit of God’s forgiveness and love over a cup of coffee is (as close as we can come without being heretical) truly a sacrament. Remember that Luther had great respect for the office of confession but didn’t consider it a sacrament because it consisted of God’s word but lacked a physical element, (if only Jesus had enjoyed a cup of Joe…), and

Whereas in the Lutheran Church , coffee is commonly considered the third sacrament anyway, and

Whereas, it would probably be going too far if we suggested renaming the Sunset Cluster, The Kurt Rizer Cluster, even though, as Dean, Kurt’s vision was to extend the Sunset Cluster west to the coast, annexing Seaside and Cannon Beach, thus fulfilling the Sunset Empire’s manifest destiny and also giving us an excuse to hold text study meetings every week by the ocean. Yes, that might be going a bit too far, and

Whereas we probably would not get away with honoring Kurt with his other favorite beverage by establishing the Kurt Rizer Memorial Leith Scotland Whiskey Society Scotch Whiskey Fund for Synod gatherings, or who knows maybe we would, and

Whereas Synod Assemblies can at times be either, far too intense and serious, or at other times, kind of like watching paint dry on a wall, and we hope that a light-hearted, but deeply meaningful resolution wouldn’t be a bad thing, and

Whereas watching paint dry takes a great deal of concentration that would be enhanced by coffee, and

Whereas Kurt Rizer had a passion for Social Justice, and

Whereas Lutheran World Relief has a wonderful Fair Share Coffee program which provides quality coffee and helps enhance the lives of growers by giving them a fair price for their product, and

Whereas due to cost constraints, for the last several years the Oregon Synod has not been able to provide enough coffee at Bishop’s Convocations or Synod Assemblies, and

Whereas a lack of caffeine can cause headaches and headaches cause irritability and large numbers of Irritable Lutherans with headaches are not much fun and could be dangerous and we wish all to live headache free in peace, love and joy, and

Whereas the Sunset Cluster Pastors miss Kurt and wish to honor his life and ministry,

Be it therefore resolved: that a perpetual memorial account be set up in honor of Kurt Rizer, named the Kurt Rizer Memorial Coffee Fund, and that donations be taken on an annual basis at the Synod’s primary gathering, and that coffee be served at every Synod wide gathering and Bishop’s Convocation as long as this fund will financially support it. (Michelle Manicke pledges $25, Bob McIntyre offered a pledge, Laurie Larson Caesar pledged $10, Jeff Kallevig pledges $100)

Be it further resolved that the wonderful establishments at which these gatherings take place would be memorialized to purchase Lutheran World Relief Fair Trade Coffee for our Synod Events.
For the record:

1) I cyber-knew Kurt Rizer via LutherLink;

2) his father, Bill Rizer, had once been pastor at Saint John's Lutheran Church, Helena, Montana, where I served my pastoral internship;

3) the sponsors of this resolution include one seminary classmate and another pastor I know thanks to e-mail lists;

4) until my first visit to Sweden in 2005 I never drank coffee (which is practically unheard of among Lutherans, especially pastors);

5) I do not have a cel phone; I use a Palm Zire mainly to keep track of my books, CDs, and LPs (but not my calendar); and use a laptop (a Micron Transport Trek 2 with Windows 98 until I bought this Mac Powerbook G4 in June 2005); and

6) I had not heard of Pastor Rizer's untimely death until I read this resolution just a few moments ago.

May this resolution pass.

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