Tuesday, May 29, 2007


One sure way to fan the fires of the homosexuality debates in the ELCA and other, uh, "mainline" churches is to start talking about repentance or healing for gay men and lesbians. Yet here's a rather sympathetic book review reprinted from The Christian Century, which is about as "mainline Protestant" a periodical as there is.

The books reviewed are Be Not Deceived: The Sacred and Sexual Struggles of Gay and Ex-Gay Christian Men (Rutgers University Press, 225 pp., $23.95, by Michelle Wolkomir) and Straight to Jesus: Sexual and Christian Conversions in the Ex-Gay Movement (University of California Press, 293 pp., $19.95 paperback, by Tanya Erzen).

The review is timely not only in the midst of the debates in which we have been engaged since the ELCA's formation, but in the light of last March's Related Leaders Conference, "Homosexuality & the Church," which I attended (the Bishop of Quincy, 4 Quincy priests, and I were the only ones dressed in "clerical" attire) as one of some 250 Central Illinois church leaders. The Conference was offered to help us "understand how we should respond to those dealing with homosexuality and minister with the love and compassion that Jesus would" and is well-described on local Pastor charlieDEAN’S Blog.

Oh, you can find the review here, too, but thanks to The Christian Century's generous Electronic Reproduction policy, I'm putting the entire review here.
Copyright 2007 CHRISTIAN CENTURY. Reproduced by permission from the May 15, 2007, issue of the CHRISTIAN CENTURY. Subscriptions: $49/year from P.O. Box 378, Mt. Morris, IL 61054. 1-800-208-4097
Formerly gay?
by Amy Johnson Frykholm

In the aftermath of New Life Church pastor Ted Haggard's fall from grace amid allegations of gay sex and drug use, a subtle controversy emerged among conservative Christians.

Three weeks after the Colorado Springs pastor left for an undisclosed treatment center to grapple with his sexuality, pastor Tim Ralph announced that Haggard had emerged from those meetings "completely heterosexual." Among those who questioned this pronouncement was Alan Chambers, president of Exodus International, an umbrella organization for what is called the ex-gay movement. Chambers politely contended that Ralph had possibly misunderstood the dynamics of sexuality involved in the Haggard case. He was quick to caution that Haggard's story is not typical of people involved in ex-gay therapy and that "recovery" from homosexuality is a long process.

The ex-gay movement is controversial and misunderstood. Essentially, ex-gay leaders argue that homosexuality is caused by a particular kind of home environment and that homosexuals can change their behavior with the help of therapy and through a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Two recent books help make sense of the ex-gay movement and its complexities through careful research. Tanya Erzen wrote Straight to Jesus after spending a year at New Hope Ministry in California, a residential treatment program for men who hope to change their homosexual behavior. Erzen interviewed both participants and leaders, attended group meetings, worked in New Hope's office and helped design the ministry's Web site. Her book draws on a wealth of personal relationships.

At the heart of Erzen's analysis is a point about ex-gay ministries that the media often miss: most ex-gay ministries are skeptical about their ability to "cure" homosexuality. While many people involved in these ministries have heterosexual marriage and biological children as their ultimate goal, and while they idealize heterosexual relationships, most ex-gay people find themselves part of a third category.

Ex-gay people believe that they will still experience homosexual desire and maybe even occasionally "fall," but that through gradual religious conversion, sexual conversion can happen as well. "Sexual identity is malleable and changeable," Erzen writes, "because it is completely entwined with religious conversion." Religious conversion and sexual conversion are so linked that participants don't change their sexual orientation so much as commit to a life of "following Jesus." As one ex-gay woman put it, "First I considered myself a lesbian, then a woman who struggles with lesbianism; now I consider myself a woman of God."

Erzen offers some of the nuances that we miss when we are focused on the black-and-white politics and the pronouncements of organizational spokespeople. One such nuance is that while heterosexual marriage and biological children are touted as the ideal by many in conservative Christian politics, ex-gay communities actually provide alternative family structures. Ex-gay people build networks of relationships within the ex-gay community, and these relationships provide the friendship, encouragement and spiritual support that many ex-gay people long for.

Another important nuance is that a repeated pattern of "fall" and "redemption" is considered a normal part of the recovery process. People involved in ex-gay ministries accept accountability for such private parts of their lives as sexual fantasy, crushes and fleeting sexual feelings. While the media seem scandalized by the failings of ex-gay people, publishing reports of members being discovered in gay bars or returning to "the gay lifestyle," many ex-gay people take such happenings as part of the reality of their attempt at "recovery." Within the social and religious system to which they are committed, homosexuality is just one sin among others. They expect failings, confession and return as part of a lifelong process.

Erzen not only makes possible a better understanding of the ideas that motivate the ex-gay movement, she also offers important portraits of ex-gay individuals. We meet a young man for whom New Hope provides an opportunity to explore his identity and eventually to choose to live as a gay man. "New Hope taught me how to think, how to look inside myself," he says. We meet a much older man, "Paul," who lived with the house leader "Hank" as his lover for many years. Paul calls New Hope his refuge and tells Erzen that he will die outside of the program. During the year that Erzen spends at New Hope, Paul goes to Ohio on a business trip, and news reaches the house of his death. These portraits give a compassionate picture of ex-gay people that could perhaps be attained in no other way than through engagement with their stories. Disagreements with New Hope's methods, ideology, theology and practice are complicated by an encounter with ex-gay people's experiences.

The richness of Erzen's research is not matched in Michelle Wolkomir's Be Not Deceived, but the latter has a significant story to tell as well. Wolkomir documents the theological and practical methods of two men's Bible study groups. One group is a part of the Metropolitan Community Church and helps men to live as gay Christians. The other is an Exodus International group that tries to lead men out of homosexuality. Wolkomir is primarily focused on these more limited contexts, and she does not bring individual men's stories to life in the same way as Erzen.

Her important contribution is to take us beyond the two groups' oppositional political positions. She underscores their common religious heritage, a version of Christianity that emphasizes personal salvation and the centrality of testimony. Both groups retrain men in their understanding of what it means to be a good Christian, and they direct participants' emotional lives in very focused directions—one toward openness and acceptance, the other toward a particular understanding of morality that includes falls and redemption. Moving between these two different perspectives helps to overcome the simplistic and divisive language that we often use to discuss homosexuality.

Wolkomir also includes a fascinating chapter on the experiences of women whose husbands are involved in ex-gay ministries. She attempts to understand how these women make sense of their marriage, their religious commitment, and their husband's attraction to other men. Wolkomir's approach and her subsequent account are both compassionate and dispassionate, providing much vital material for challenging stereotypical assumptions.

Books like Erzen's and Wolkomir's are increasingly important as Christians struggle with questions of sexual identity. They should be widely read by people who want to understand the political positions not only in the light of theological pronouncements, but also through the textures of individual lives and experiences.

Amy Johnson Frykholm, author of Rapture Culture, teaches at Colorado Mountain College.

Monday, May 14, 2007

The 9.5 Theses

The disputes one finds today in the ELCA are nothing new for us. In Lent of 1995 a group of pastors sent to every ELCA pastor what they called 9.5 Theses Concerning the Confession of the Faith in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Over 700 ELCA pastors signed them, but the hoped-for discussion was quashed from the ELCA's highest levels. I'll confess that I never got around to signing them, but from these 9.5 Theses emerged the Society of the Holy Trinity, whose Rule I subscribed to at the first opportunity.

As a participant in several venues in the continuing debates that rage over the Scriptures, the Ministry, worship (both liturgical language and styles), marriage and sexuality, etc. in the ELCA (and other churches), I find that the 9.5 Theses continue to speak a powerful, even prophetic, word to us. And far more eloquently than much of our discourse today. I commend them to you.

9.5 Theses
Concerning the Confession of the Faith
in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


To the people of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, "who have been chosen and destined by God the Father and sanctified by the Spirit to be obedient to Jesus Christ and to be sprinkled with his blood," and to their pastors: "May grace and peace be yours in abundance" (1 Peter 1:2).

The ELCA is in a crisis—a crisis of faith. The critical question is whether this church will prove faithful to the prophetic and apostolic Scriptures and the catholic creeds and evangelical confessions, or fall into apostasy—a fall which could go either to the right or to the left. Many in the ELCA tilt toward the right—the ideologies of enthusiasm, fundamentalism, nationalism, and pietism. Many others lean toward the left—the ideologies of activism, feminism, advocacy. This results in the appearance of a conservative versus liberal struggle, but this appearance is an illusion. The real struggle is for faithful adherence to the Scriptures, creeds and confessions over against their subordination to these social or religious ideologies.

Whenever such ideologies prevail, the Word of God is silenced among us and driven out of the Church, and our people, left to their own devices, are deprived of that true consolation which comes from "the Gospel of God . . . concerning his Son . . . Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 1:1ff).

Praying for the Church, rejoicing in the Gospel, convicted by the Word of God, we offer the following theses, that our confession of the Faith might address the current crisis directly and honestly. Our pastoral office compels us to speak.

1. The Revelation and Name of the Holy Trinity

"When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who comes from the Father, he will testify on my behalf." (John 15:26)

"Throughout the world the holy Church acclaims, praises, worships" no other God than the LORD God of Israel, revealed in and named by Jesus Christ as "the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit" (Te Deum; Matthew 28:19; Augsburg Confession—Article I).

We reject the false teaching that the naming of God as Father is a human construct to be understood on the analogy of human fatherhood; that it designates Israel's God as male; that the Trinitarian Name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit is inherently oppressive to human beings in general or women in particular; or that substituting triadic terms is adequate.

The Word of God is silenced among us and driven out of the Church whenever the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit is ignored, minimized, marginalized, suppressed or altered in the Church's preaching and praying, baptizing and confessing.

2. The Bondage of Humanity to Sin

"Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death came through sin, and so death spread to all because all have sinned." (Romans 5:12)

The Church confesses "that we are in bondage to sin and cannot free ourselves" (Lutheran Book of Worship—Brief Order for Confession and Forgiveness; Augsburg Confession—Articles II, XVIII, XIX).

We reject the false teaching that would place ultimate hope in human goodness and self-fulfillment, that would confuse sin with failure or lack of virtue, that would exchange confession of our sin before God for self-analyses of perceived human problems.

The Word of God is silenced among us and driven out of the Church whenever we sinners are not held accountable before the holy and righteous God.

3. The Person and Work of God the Son

"Without any doubt, the mystery of our religion is great: He was revealed in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, preached among Gentiles, believed in throughout the world, taken up in glory." (1 Timothy 3:16)

The Church confesses and believes in Jesus Christ, the incarnate Word of God, "the eternal Son of the Father," crucified and raised for the salvation of the world, "worthy of all worship" (Te Deum; Augsburg Confession—Article III).

We reject the false teaching that would separate the man Jesus from the risen Christ, and diminish his particular identity by "re-imagining" him as female, speaking of him as androgynous, or using him as a "Christ-principle." We also reject the false teaching that Christ is for Christians only, that he is but one savior among many, that faith is salutary apart from the particular work of Christ.

The Word of God is silenced among us and driven out of the Church whenever, under the guise of a false pluralism, we do not boldly proclaim the man Jesus Christ, the Jew from Nazareth, as the unique and universal Savior, the One for the many.

4. The Proclamation of Forgiveness, Life and Salvation

"For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God." (Ephesians 2:8)

The Church "acknowledges one Baptism for the forgiveness of sins," in which God has justified the ungodly and promised salvation from sin and death, from devil and hell, and from God's own law and wrath, "and opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers" (Nicene Creed; Te Deum; Augsburg Confession—Articles III & IV).

We reject the false teaching that would replace God's eschatological salvation with therapeutic rejuvenation, material well-being, social transformation, the spread of provisional human justice, or other good and desirable effects in what unbelief would label "the real world."

The Word of God is silenced among us and driven out of the Church when the singular and specific promise of  the Gospel is traded for the promise of some worldly good or the plans and pleas for human betterment.

5. The Holy Spirit and the Means of Grace

"So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ." (Romans 10:17)

The Church confesses and believes in "the Holy Spirit, Advocate and Guide," who "calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian Church" through, and only through, God's means of Grace, which is the preaching of the Word—i.e. through Scripture, sermon, Baptism, Absolution, and Communion (Te Deum; Small Catechism—Creed—Article III; Augsburg Confession—Articles V, IX-XIII).

We reject the false teaching that the Holy Spirit is given apart from the preached Word and sacraments, that the Holy Spirit is evidenced by human enthusiasm or activism, that the Holy Spirit is to be equated with the dynamic of social, political and spiritual movements. We reject the false teaching that the Church grows through human ingenuity and energy. We reject the false teaching that God's liturgy is a tool for the advancement of political, cultural or therapeutic programs. We reject the elevation of organizational success, growth in numbers, and political and therapeutic activity to the status of marks of the Church.

The Word of God is silenced among  us and driven out of the Church when the true means of grace "the preaching of the Word and the sacraments" no longer
defines, structures and centers the ministry and mission of the Christian congregation.

6. The Vocation of the Baptized and Good Works

"For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, to be our way of life." (Ephesians 2:10)

The Church confesses that the faithful are "bound to bring forth fruits—that is, the good works mandated by God" in the Ten Commandments, and done for God's sake alone (Augsburg Confession—Articles VI, XVI, XX).

We reject the false teaching that would elevate advocacy for self-chosen high-visibility causes above the common participation of Christians in the life of the world as husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, employers, workers, artists, teachers, doctors, lawyers, politicians, etc.

The Word of God is silenced among us and driven out of the Church whenever the daily vocation of Christians is denigrated.

7. The Unity of the Church Catholic

"For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit." (1 Corinthians 12:13)

The Church "believes in one holy catholic and apostolic Church," "the Body of Christ," which is the congregation of the faithful gathered by the Holy Spirit to hear the preached Word and sacraments (Nicene Creed; Romans 12:5; I Corinthians 12:12ff.; Augsburg Confession—Article Vll).

We reject the false teaching of a North American liberal Christianity that would substitute a politically-devised multi-culturalism or inclusivism for the Church's true catholic unity in the preached Word and sacraments. We reject the false teaching of a North American conservative Protestantism that would substitute an invisible, spiritual experience of fellowship for the concrete reality of the preached Word and sacraments.

The Word of God is silenced among us and driven out of the Church whenever the visible unity of the churches is not actively pursued in terms of the true God-given unity of the Church in Word and Sacrament.

8. The Proper Distinction between Law and Gospel

"For 'no human being will be justified in his sight' by deeds prescribed by the law, for through the law, comes the knowledge of sin." (Romans 3:20)

The Church teaches that both law and gospel must continually be preached in the congregation of the faithful: the law to convict people of sin and to promote God's temporal justice, the gospel to forgive people of sins and to Proclaim God's eternal righteousness (Apology of Augsburg Confession—Article IV).

We reject the false teaching that would identify God's law with achievable human goals rather than as the call to repent from sin and to amend one's life before the holy God. We reject the false teaching that would re-define God's gospel as a freedom which allows individuals to fulfill themselves and to do whatever pleases them.

The Word of God is silenced among us  and driven out of the Church whenever it is no longer held that God Almighty who created everything and gave us his law is the one God who redeemed the creation and renews it through his Holy Spirit.

9. The Holy Ministry

"Think of us in this way, as servants of Christ and stewards of God's mysteries." (1 Corinthians 4:1)

The Church teaches that the holy Ministry is the divinely instituted public office of  preaching the Word and sacraments in the congregation of the faithful (Augsburg Confession—Articles V, XIV, XXVIII; cf. Occasional Services—Ordination).

We reject the false teaching that would define the holy Ministry as a "helping profession," and so turn bishops and pastors into psychological counselors or social activists. We reject the false teaching that would fragment the one divinely instituted Ministry into so-called specialized ministries, as if the circumstances of ministry determine its content and practice. We reject the false teaching that ordained ministers are not subject to an exemplary standard in their conduct and relationships, or that they may excuse immoral behavior by an appeal to privacy or gospel freedom.

The Word of God is silenced among us and driven out of the Church whenever the holy Ministry becomes a loosely defined service to people rather than the specific divine call to serve the Word of God, and whenever bishops and pastors are not encouraged to adorn the holy Ministry with holy lives.


"We believe that you will come and be our judge. Come, then, Lord, and help your people, bought with the price of your own blood, and bring us with your saints to glory everlasting." (Te Deum)

Almighty God, grant to your Church your Holy Spirit and the wisdom which comes down from heaven, that your Word may not be bound but have free course and be preached to the joy and edifying of Christ's holy people, that in steadfast faith we may serve you and in the confession of your name may abide to the end, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (Lutheran Book of Worship—Matins & Vespers)

          Pastor Louis A. Smith, Collingswood, NJ
          Pastor Phillip Max Johnson, Jersey City, NJ
          Pastor Linda Sue Larson, Cresskill, NJ
          Pastor John David Larson, Cresskill, NJ
          Pastor Richard F. Niebanck, Delhi, NY
          Pastor Beth A. Schlegel, Trenton, NJ
          Pastor Mark A. Hoffman, Moorestown, NJ

For other copies of the 9.5 Theses on the web, see here (this includes the cover letter), here, here, and here.

Each of the above signing pastors were among the founders of the Society of the Holy Trinity in 1997. Lou Smith was the Society's Vicar when he departed from this life in November 2004. Phillip Johnson, our first Senior, was received into the Catholic Church last summer. The others still hold the fort in the ELCA.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

ELCAers Invited to Sign Statement on Scripture

Three weeks ago I posted A Lutheran Statement on the Authority and Interpretation of Scripture in the Church, which had just been posted by Lutheran CORE - Coalition for Reform as the ELCA begins Book of Faith: Lutherans Engage the Bible, a five-year "initiative to deepen and broaden engagement with the Bible for all ages, all cultures, and to draw on our heritage of faithful ways to let the Word engage us." CORE has now made available a two-page print-friendly version of the Statement.

Lutheran CORE is also inviting ELCA clergy and laity to add their signatures to the statement by sending their name and address by email to L-CORE@charter.net. CORE intends to send the statement along with the signatures received by the end of June to ELCA Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson, the Rev. Stanley Olson (Exec. Director of the ELCA unit on Vocation and Vocation), and the Synodical Bishops in July (in time for the Churchwide Assembly in August). With a goal of 2000 signatures, as of this moment 157 persons (including at least 61 pastors and one AIM) have signed on. I've signed it. How about you?

Saturday, May 05, 2007

The ELCA's 20th Anniversary

If it weren't for having "Evangelical Lutheran Church in America" on the news section of the church computer's "Dell-Google Start Page," the actual 20th Anniversary of the forming of the ELCA would have completely slipped by me. Technically, it did anyway, for the ELCA Constituting Convention was April 30—May 3, 1987, in Columbus, Ohio, meaning that 20th Anniversary slipped by Thursday. (Perhaps this is another instance where my friend Elisabeth's "birth week" idea is useful.)

If you search really hard on the ELCA's own website, you'll be able to find some mention of it. But even then mention of this church's 20th anniversary is buried near the bottom of a ELCA News Service release or is just one-more-thing in next August's Churchwide Assembly.

Fortunately (?), the Port Huron, Michigan, Times Herald published this in today's paper:
Lutheran merger led to mixed results

Times Herald columnist

This week marks the anniversary of something practically nobody remembers - including people who were there.

Twenty years ago this week, representatives of three Lutheran Church bodies gathered in Columbus, Ohio, to form the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

They packed themselves into a downtown convention center and spent four days turning the former Lutheran Church in America, American Lutheran Church and Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches into what one pastor friend of mine scornfully dismissed as "the General Motors of Lutheranism."

As things turned out, he may have been closer to the mark than he ever dreamed. Starting with a membership of about 5.34 million, the roll 20 years later stands closer to 4.88 million. Membership has gone the way of GM's sales figures. The difference is that those who left have not joined Japanese churches.

I was rummaging in my desk the other day, and I found my notes and a slew of press handouts from that constituting convention two decades ago. This newspaper's management at the time decided the event was important enough to send me to cover it.

My wife and I were put up in a snazzy hotel next to the Ohio State Capitol building. We were on the top floor and practically needed binoculars to see the roof of the Capitol. If you've ever been there, the seat of Ohio's government looks as if they stopped building it about half way and never bothered to finish.

Anyhow, my convention notes are revealing. Honest, I was paying attention, which made it some of the hardest work I've ever done. Here's part of what my boss got for his investment:

"This business of merging churches is about as exciting as watching paint dry. The folks running the show are plodding through a list of resolutions that not many people are paying attention to. The delegates are not on the edge of their seats. Some are, but they're the ones trying to stay awake.

"The mezzanine is about two-thirds full. Motions are routinely approved on a voice vote. One delegate asks plaintively if we can't skip reading them. The chairman is not ready to do something that radical.

"Delegates have folding chairs with padded seats. That's a mistake. Hard seats might speed things up."

The merging took four days, beating God's creation record by three days. Thus the ELCA was created with hopes it would be fruitful and multiply. It could have been done easily in 48 hours. They probably rented the convention center without a discount for finishing early, so, being good frugal Germans, they wanted to get their money's worth.

Twenty years later, the results have been mixed. Some ELCA churches and mission programs are thriving. Still, ELCA Lutherans, along with other mainline Protestants are seeing too many empty pews on Sunday and dwindling cash to do mission work.

What will it take to reinvigorate those hopes from 1987?

For starters, maybe unpadded seats.
Thanks, Mr. Ketchum, for the reminders. And the questions. Now, I wonder if anyone besides you and (thanks to you) me, will note this anniversary?

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.