News Releases and Information Bulletins
CCM Verax Information Service
For Immediate Release
Date: 25 April 2003
Title: LWF GENERAL SECRETARY, NOKO, INVOLVED IN ELCA ECUMENICAL SCANDAL
An ecumenical scandal in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) is taking on international dimensions. The scandal relates to Called to Common Mission (CCM), the full communion agreement between the ELCA and the Episcopal Church, USA. In recent correspondence with CCM Verax, the General Secretary of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), Dr. Ishmael Noko, is seeking to divert attention from his own role in the passage of CCM in the ELCA.
CCM Verax is informing LWF member church leaders that elements within the LWF are seeking to expand the ecumenical "grand deception" in CCM to other parts of the LWF. These forces threaten to create splits in the LWF. Paradoxically, LWF General Secretary Noko, who should be safeguarding the Lutheran confessional heritage of the LWF, is actually working to undermine the confessional integrity and thus unity of worldwide Lutheranism.
In a letter from 31 March 2003, CCM Verax asked LWF General Secretary Noko for his support in allowing a public debate on CCM to be arranged at the LWF Assembly in July between ELCA Presiding Bishop Hanson and CCM Verax Administrator Menacher. Below are Dr. Noko's response to this request dated 03 April 2003 and, subsequently, the reply thereto from CCM Verax Administrator, Menacher, dated 17 April 2003. This reply from CCM Verax documents Noko's key role in the passage of CCM.
Titel: LWB GENERALSEKRETÄR, NOKO, IN ÖKUMENISCHEN SKANDAL DER ELKA VERWICKELT
Jetzt informiert CCM Verax den LWB Mitgliedskirchen, daß Elemente innerhalb des LWB es vorhaben, die ökumenische "Großbetrügerei" in CCM auf andere Teile des LWB auszuweiten. Durch diese Kräfte wird der LWB von Spaltungen bedroht. LWB Generalsekretär Noko, der das lutherisch-konfessionelle Erbe des LWB schützen sollte, ist paradoxerweise selber an der Unterminierung der konfessionellen Integrität und daher der Einheit des weltweiten Luthertums beteiligt.
In einem Brief vom 31. März 2003 hat CCM Verax den LWB Generalsekretär Noko um seine Unterstützung gebeten, um eine öffentliche Debatte zwischen dem Leitenden Bischof der ELKA (Hanson) und dem CCM Verax Verwalter (Menacher) zum Thema CCM an der im Juli stattfindenden LWB-Versammlung veranstalten zu lassen. Unten sind die Antwort von Generalsekretär Noko vom 03. April 2003 auf diese Bitte und danach die Erwiderung darauf von CCM Verax Verwalter Menacher vom 17. April 2003 zu finden. Die Erwiderung von CCM Verax dokumentiert die Schlüsselrolle Nokos in der Verabschiedung von CCM.
Dear Pastor Menacher,
I acknowledge receipt of your letter dated March 31, 2003 and the attached letter to Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson of the ELCA and Vice-President of the Lutheran World Federation.
You have asked me to be as cooperative as possible regarding the action you outlined in your letter to Bishop Hanson. The maximum cooperation that I can give you is to point out that this is an internal matter which is best handled in the ELCA and not by the LWF.
Presiding Bishop Mark S. Hanson
2. TEXT OF REPLY FROM DR. M. MENACHER TO DR. I NOKO FROM 17 APRIL 2003 (English only)
Dear Dr. Noko,
We note that you consider the "grand deception" in Called to Common Mission (CCM) to be "an internal matter which is best handled in the ELCA and not by the LWF" (emphasis original). This statement conflicts with your previous words and actions concerning CCM.
For example, in 1998 in relation to the Porvoo Agreement (which you indicate exceeds the parameters for unity according to Article VII of the Augsburg Confession), you are quoted in an ELCA publication as saying, "It's my sincere hope that similar agreements of communion can also become a reality soon in North America and then also in Africa." (The Lutheran, 9/1998, p. 51 - http://www.thelutheran.org/9809/page51a.html).
Also, in your speech on 19 August 1999 to the ELCA's Churchwide Assembly, which passed CCM, you are reported as saying, "Lutherans around the world 'are watching what you do' because '65 synods here have established a partnership with other Lutherans around the globe. I had planned to send a letter of greeting to you. But I realized I had to come here because of the tremendous interest from your sister churches'" (Lutheran Daily - http://www.thelutheran.org/daily/friday.html).
Finally, in September 1999 in a report on the passage of CCM, the editor of The Lutheran, Edgar Trexler, comments, "Speeches by John Thomas, president elect of the United Church of Christ, and Ishmael Noko, general secretary of the Lutheran World Federation, probably turned the tide" in countering opposition to CCM (9/1999, p. 58 - http://www.thelutheran.org/9910/page58.html).
From these few examples, you as LWF General Secretary have engaged yourself numerous times in the internal ecumenical matters of the ELCA. Further, you have declared yourself to be part of a concerted effort to move LWF churches away from the unity envisaged in Article VII of the Augsburg Confession in favour of the principles of religious intolerance codified in the English parliament's 1662 Act of Uniformity. Finally, your presence at the 1999 ELCA Churchwide Assembly underscores the lengths of your willingness to abandon a Protestant understanding of ecclesial unity.
Clearly, from your longstanding personal involvement in the internal matters of the ELCA, you are personally culpable and thus partly responsible for the introduction of the "grand deception" of CCM into the ELCA.
CCM Verax wishes to thank you for your response. Given your previous involvement in relation to CCM, your refusal to advocate truth and justice in this matter is not surprising. It has been important for CCM Verax to offer you the opportunity either to address the great injustice in CCM or to state clearly that you do not adhere to the principle of true church unity in the gospel of Christ alone as Lutherans attest in Article VII of the Augsburg Confession.
To close, we would be grateful if you would answer two questions:
1. Please explain why it was acceptable for you as LWF General Secretary to intervene in the internal matters of the ELCA to help secure the passage of CCM and why it is not acceptable to become involved in this matter now that the "grand deception" in CCM has been exposed?
2. How did it come to pass that you were present at the 1999 ELCA Churchwide Assembly to intervene in this internal ELCA matter and who funded this venture?
Again, we appreciate your response, and CCM Verax looks forward to your further replies.
Please, forward a copy of this letter to LWF President, Dr. h.c. C. Krause.