Friday, July 06, 2007

News on Rev. Schmeling

From LCNA. Emphasis is mine. I believe that Schmeling's church intends to keep him against ELCA wishes, which could subject them to unknown disciplinary action.

Lutherans Concerned Angry and Determined Following the Removal of Pastor Bradley Schmeling from the ELCA Clergy roster on July 2, 2007

On July 2, 2007, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) Committee on Appeals (COA) denied his appeal and removed Pastor Bradley Schmeling from the clergy roster of the ELCA.

Pastor Schmeling had been charged in August 2006 for violating the ELCA policy that forbids LGBT rostered leaders from living in committed same gender relationships of mutuality, fidelity and respect. In January 2007, an ELCA Discipline Hearing Committee (DHC) conducted an ecclesiastical trial that concluded nearly unanimously that there was no reason under the constitution of the ELCA for Pastor Schmeling to be punished. In fact, they commended his ministry at St. John’s Lutheran, Atlanta, Georgia. However, feeling bound by the ELCA policy, the DHC removed him from the clergy roster with an effective date of August 15th this year. The COA action changed the effective date to July 2nd.

The DHC also had said the ELCA policy of discrimination might be in violation of the constitution of the ELCA, and suggested two avenues to change the policy: a judicial appeal to the Committee on Appeals, and a legislative remedy through action by regional judicatories called synods, and by the ELCA churchwide assembly, which is the highest legislative body of the church.

Emily Eastwood, Executive Director, Lutherans Concerned/North America, said of the action by the Committee on Appeals, “We are deeply saddened, angry, and more determined following the artless and callous treatment of Pastor Bradley at the hands of the Committee on Appeals. The decision was delivered by email, no pastoral call was made or human contact given. The Committee actually noted as positive that they limited themselves to the transcripts of the hearing. They never met Pastor Schmeling or the members of St. John’s.

“There are no scriptural precedents for such behavior in Christ’s life. Jesus was moved with compassion and broke the religious laws of his age, time and again meeting and embracing outcasts in their contexts. There are others in the Gospels, the Scribes and the Pharisees who, according to Jesus, kept the letter of the law but neglected the weightier matters of justice and mercy. Jesus goes on to say to the Pharisees, “you blind guides, you strain out a gnat and swallow a camel.” Matthew: 23. Pastor Schmeling has been treated by the church like a gnat to be swatted away and forgotten. Christ would not recognize the behavior of the Committee on Appeals, and by default the ELCA in this case, as his own.

“This is what happens when human law becomes an end to itself. The judicial process has proven to be an ecclesiastical dry hole. It started with an unjust, discriminatory policy and decided that it had been rightly and justly executed.

“We now turn to the ELCA churchwide assembly in August seeking the legislative remedy offered by the DHC and confirmed as the only alternative by the COA. The Spirit has moved 22 synods of the ELCA to state in no uncertain terms that the policy of discrimination must be changed. These synods represent a full 40% of the membership of the ELCA. They believe that this matter must come to the floor of the assembly, be debated, and the current policy eliminated leaving a single standard for pastors more fitting to those who follow Christ and Martin Luther.

“The struggle is not over, LGBT Lutherans and their allies both clergy and lay will not relent until justice and mercy prevail.”

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