National Lutheran News

ELCA MAY ACCOMMODATE WORD ALONE GROUP

During its November 10-13 meeting in Chicago, the Church Council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) dealt with concerns about whether bishops must ordain new pastors.

It asked the ELCA Office of the Bishop to consult with other bishops and ecumenical partners about a possible constitutional bylaw that would allow for exceptions to ordination procedures — those required by Called to Common Mission (CCM), a full communion agreement between the ELCA and The Episcopal Church.

The council offered a draft of a possible bylaw for discussion by the church and asked the Office of the Bishop to report back to the council at its Spring 2001 meeting. It said it “may consider at that time” transmitting a bylaw proposal for consideration by the 2001 ELCA Churchwide Assembly.

In the ELCA, CCM has generated opposition and led to the formation of the Twin Cities-based WordAlone Network. CCM opponents say it threatens Lutheran identity and gives bishops more authority. One issue for some Lutherans who oppose CCM is a requirement that a synod bishop preside at future Lutheran ordinations; under present practice in the ELCA, a synod bishop may designate another pastor to ordain.

The council’s action is intended as a possible answer for those who may prefer to be ordained by another pastor. instead of a bishop.