Documents and Reference
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Threse are some of the key documents and other references which may be referenced in the blog. For further information, please consult my theological site, www.danhooper.info.
The Lutheran Church
The Augsburg Confession — written in 1530 by Philip Melanchthon, an associate of Dr. Martin Luther, as a defense document to be presented to the Imperial Diet in Augsburg, Germany. Still used as a core expression of what Lutherans believe and teach about the Christian faith and the organization of the church. The first half explains fundamental doctrines; the second half presents a postion about matters being disputed with the Roman Catholic Church. You can download a copy of the Augsburg Confession from Project Wittenberg here.
Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification — a document produced from ongoing world Lutheran-Catholic dialog which began in 1965; adopted in Augsburg in 1999 by the Catholic Church and the Lutheran World Federation. You can read the full document on the Vatican’s web site here, the LWF’s web site here, or the ELCA’s web site here.
Credentials and Ordination of Lutheran Pastors
There are two guiding documents adopted in 1990 which have been used for two decades to attempt to keep LGBT people out of the ministry of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. These are called “Vision and Expectations” and “Guidelines for Discipline.” These documents are paired; there is one set of V&E for ordained pastors and another for associates in ministry, deaconesses and diaconal ministers. There are four Discipline documents.
These documents are available on line from the ELCA website; the current status and explanation are here. Or jump directly to HTML versions of the document for ordained pastors: Vision and Expectations and Definitions and Guidelines.
As a result of the actions taken by the voting members of the church-wide Assembly in Minneapolis in August, 2009, these two documents are being revised even as we speak. They are available on line for comment, and will be furhter reviewed by both the ELCA Bishops and the national Church Council before they can take effect.
At present, lesbian/gay members of the clergy who have been excluded from ministry or had been dropped from the official clergy roster are being advised by Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries that there will be a process in place later this year to apply for readmission to the roster. I have not had opportunity to thoroughly review the proposed changes in the two documents, but my feeling is that what they say will not be nearly as important for LGBT clergy as the actual revised procedures that are put in place governing the readmission of pastors.
I am not holding my breath, as they say, but for significantly different reasons than cynicism. At this point in my professional life I am not in need of a new position or “letter of call” to serve, and therefore technically do not need to be readmitted to the roster and become a member in good standing. I am neither opposed in principle nor excited at the prospects of joining this enormous roster of straight (and LGBT/closeted) clergy just to gain some “status.” Quite the opposite, I want to see if the ELCA will really put into practice the kind of hospitable and welcoming procedures that will reflect its desire to gain the gifts which we have for ministry, especially for ministry in LGBT communities.
– Pastor Dan Hooper