Roy G. Almquist - Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod
Response dated 1st November 2001:
"I am in
receipt of your comprehensive communication of September 28, 2001.
Since you have gone to much effort and expense to share your thoughts,
I thought I would let you know that I have received your mailing.
I must say that
I find your suggestion that I have been some kind of a "conspirator"
in a "great deception" rather extreme and offensive. Excellent
scholars clearly disagree on issues related to Called To Common
Mission. But the Churchwide Assembly has approved Called To
Common Mission and it represents the policy of our Church. In
the Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod we have found great blessing in
our "full communion" relationship with the Episcopal Church
in the greater Philadelphia area.
I would respectfully
suggest that it is time to end this struggle to undermine this new
ecumenical position. Since September 11, this kind of controversy
seems rather irrelevant to us here in the Northeast. I hope we can
agree to disagree on certain interpretations and get on with the real
task of the Church which is to Make Christ Known." Back
L. Hansen - North/West
Lower Michigan Synod
Response dated 26th
will be meeting with you in person, I thought I might put in writing
some of my thoughts.
First, I continue
to assume that your pastoral ministry at St Paul is going well. I
have not had conversation with members of late, but Pastor Miriam
Bunge's visit with the congregation was very positive from her point
Second, I am deeply
disturbed by your continuing to circulate mailings and internet correspondence
that personalizes your anger in Dr. Michael Root. I am asking you
to stop communicating such personalized attacks on him.
People on both
sides of the Called to Common Mission debate have varied strongly
in their understandings and interpretations. Nevertheless, the ELCA
has at its highest level made a decision and most of us have worked
at trying to move through important steps as we live it out in our
You have circulated
through many persons your concerns. The latest is through the e?mail
addresses of seminary students which I find offensive if not illegal.
I pray that you will find positive and kingdom building energy that
would replace these negative attacks. As I study what our expectations
are of clergy in this church your communications fall far short and
this grieves me. I pray things can and will be different."
Dr. Menacher in a subsequent letter asked Bishop Hansen if he was
asking Dr. Menacher to refrain from the truth, Bishop Hansen refused
in writing to the question.] Back
A. Last - Western Iowa Synod
dated 11th October 2001:
Lutheran Church in America has, in its August 2001 Assembly affirmed
Called to Common Mission and the exceptions resolution as the way
it will live the fullcommunion agreement with the Episcopal Church,
of ending that agreement will, I believe, satisfy those who oppose
the agreement. I support the decisions of the ELCA Assembly, and am
committed to implementing Called to Common Mission." Back
A. Rimbo - Southeast Michigan Synod
Response dated 24th
"I have received
your mailing of October 17, 2001, and will take it under advisement.
I believe your concerns are with Dr. Root and you should direct them
to him.. I also believe that you need to be in conversation with your
bishop about the various issues you raise." Back
A. Skrenes - Northern Great Lakes Synod
Response dated 10th
Dear Pastor Menacher:
Greetings in the
name of our Lord Jesus Christ who in this Advent season gives us much
reason to hope! God is at work in this Church and in all of the baptized.
May Jesus return as triumphant king soon.
Thank you for
sending me your paper entitled: "Called to Common Mission-Your
Complicity in Grand Deception." After reading it and especially
after reading your cover letter of 28 September I am reminded of what
Dr. Joseph Sittler once remarked to a graduate student, "It is
best if one does not use the typewriter as some sort of machine gun."
I am also reminded of what our brother Dr. Martin Luther wrote in
his explanation of the eight commandment. "We are to interpret
everything they (our neighbor) do in the best possible light."
With that preface a few comments of my own:
1. It is obvious
that you love this church deeply and that you cling to the cross of
Jesus Christ. You are a friend in Christ and I give thanks for your
2. Your letter
of 28 September to me was harsh and accusatory. You state, that if
I do not denounce the Called to Common Mission agreement then, "I
will hold you personally responsible for being a willing accomplice
to what is arguably the greatest act of deception cultivated by an
ecclesial denomination in the history of North America." I do
not react well to these type of letters.
3. You state on
page 10, "CCM now requires the ELCA to adopt and to share an
episcopalian "ecclesiastical and canonical polity ." The
Called to Common Mission Document (paragrahs 14 and 15) affirm the
ELCA 's continuing pattern of ordained ministry and paragraph 9 says,
"The ordination of deacons, deaconesses, or diaconal ministers
by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is not required."
What could be more clear than that statement?
4. In general
I believe you have made the wrong case. While your arguments are historically
interesting, the Churchwide Assembly in 1999 adopted the CCM because
it was, in the opinion of two-thirds of the voting members "best
for mission." The historic argument did not and does not make
any difference to most people, lay and clergy.
5. You may be
surprised to know that I did not support Called to Common Mission
when it was voted on in Denver. My opposition to it had nothing to
do with the confessional arguments presented by you and others. I
felt it was simply not necessary .The Assembly felt otherwise.
Let us continue
to pray for our Church. Please pray with me that God will bless our
relationship with all other Christian communities and that the Holy
Spirit may push us to grow in faithfulness and in numbers. May Jesus
Christ be praised in all we accomplish.
Thomas A. Skrenes
Bishop Gary Hanson, Dr. Michael Root Back
P. Wangberg - Northwestern
Response dated 7th
"I was an
opponent of CCM long before it was called CCM and long before most
other pastors read the document. I continue to believe that we as
an ELCA would have been better off without adopting the Historical
But your charge
that, "Basically, it has been discovered that the ecumenical
agreement between the ELCA and the Episcopal Church, entitled Called
to Common Mission (CCM), is built on a conscious suppression of the
truth. As a result, the ELCA membership has wrongfully been misled
into accepting episcopalian structures rejected by the Lutheran Reformers,"
is, in my view, from what has happened. We -- the ELCA -- you (presumably)
and I -- have
debated this document for many years. Very early on we -- members
of the ELCA and hence "the ELCA" -- made it clear that we
did not agree that paragraph 11's referance to Article 14 of the Augustana
refered to Episcopal structures. I think we won that part of the debate.
I don't hear too many people lifting up that argument from CCM in
the circles with which I continue to discuss this document.
I am particularly
disturbed by the statement, that "CCM contends that God wants
the ELCA to place this same religious intolerance (the Church of England's
intolerance with the Pilgrims) at the heart of the ELCA's ordained
ministry." That may be your contention, but it is certainly not
CCM's. I see very few parallels between the Pilgrims battle with the
Church of England and 21st century America. There is no attempt to
make the ELCA the "state" church. It does not seem to me
that the Pilgrims came to this country with any intent to be tolerant.
In fact they came to be intolerant -- they had no intention of establishing
relgious freedom in their settlements; they fully intended to keep
people of other faiths out of their communities. They
intended to be intolerant, seperatists.
It is true that
the term "Full Communion" has a slightly different meaning
for Episcopaleans than it does for Lutherans. But the Lutheran understanding
of "Full Communion" -- the interchangability of clergy --
does exist right now with the Episcopal Church. We do have Episcopal
priests who are serving
ELCA congregations and Lutheran Pastors that are serving Episcopal
congregations. And Episcopaleans are exploring the possibility with
us of having Licensed Lay Ministers serve Episcopal congregations
-- something quite remarkable since LLMs are not rostered in the ELCA.
It is not true
any more true to say that the ELCA is on the path to becoming an Episcopal
church than it is to say that the ELCA is on the way to becoming a
Presbyterian Church, a UCC Church, or a Moravian Church, denominations
with which we likewise have "Full Communion" agreements.
Clergy from those denominations remain interchangeable with the ELCA
and not with the Episcopaleans. If we were in fact on our way to becoming
-- or had in face become -- Episcopalean, these denominations would
not be able to exchange clergy with us because they do not have the
I don't think it is at all accurate to say the ELCA is on the way
to becoming an Episcopalian. In fact, the Augustana makes it clear
in Article 7 that we are not required to adopt any particular church
government for unity in the church, but we are free to do it if we
wish. This is what we have done. We have adopted an Episcopalean Symbol
that points to unity of the church that transcends the ages without
having to adopt all that it means to Episcopaleans. We are free to
do in our ordinations what Episcopaleans cannot do. We are free to
have pastors other than bishops ordain clergy.
we do not ordain bishops. My friends who oppose CCM do a great disservice
to their cause when they insist that the service by which we publicly
acknowledge the change in the office of bishop is an ordination rather
than an installation. Their words are deceptive. The ELCA has insisted
it is not an ordination.
CCM and its antecedent
document have been publicly and thoroughly debated. The ELCA by 2/3
vote chose to adopt it. Most who voted for it do not believe we have
become Eiscopalean nor were they voting to do so. They do not regard
us as on the road to becoming the Church of England nor do Episcopaleans.
It is time for us to be noble practicianers of a church that believes
in the priesthood of all believers and in the making of decisions
through the votes of assemblies and acknowledge we lost that battle.
It is time to move on. We should use the freedom we have to shape
this symbol in Lutheran ways; we should use the symbol to enhance
our understanding of the power of the word and the priesthood of all
It has been said
that there are two great marks of decomocracies: First, they allow
the minority to speak. Second, having had the full opportunity to
express their opinions, the minority accept the decision of the majority
and gracefully support that position until such time as the minority
becomes the majority.
I believe the
ELCA churchwide assembly and its congregations and synods have accomplished
the first part. It is time for us to move to the second. That too
is part of what it means to be a church that believes all its members
are priests of Christ."
D. Wells - Eastern Washington-Idaho Synod
10th October 2001:
response received) Back
Timothy Lull - President of Pacific Lutheran
Response dated 5th
not be possible for me to respond to the requests that you make in
your letter." Back
Church Council Members
J. Havel (Pastor) - North/West Lower Michigan Synod
from December 2002 to a request for a detailed explanation of support
too busy preaching the gospel, administering the sacraments, caring
for souls, administering the business affairs, teaching, leading Lutheran
worship, and nurturing leaders to provide anything close to a "detailed"
response. Peace! Kirk" Back
S. Opalinski (Pastor) - Southwestern Pennsylvania Synod
Response dated 15th
permission to interpret my lack of response as you wish." Back