Devotion for Saturday, March 16, 2019

“The Lord preserves the simple; I was brought low, and He saved me. Return
to your rest, O my soul, for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you. For You
have rescued my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling.” (Psalm

The Lord preserves those whom He
has made. What is the point of a short lifespan and then more of the same? The
Lord is producing something greater through the grace and mercy He gives. Look
at it all simply. You were created by the Lord to live in His praise with
thanksgiving. Come unto the Lord and know His goodness. Taste and see that the
Lord is good, for He has rescued your soul.

Lord lead me through the fog of self to see that I am a part of all that You have created. Guide me in the goodness of Your mercy that I would forever live in praise of You. You are God and there is no other. You lead me to where I need to be and You provide for my every need. Keep my feet from stumbling that I would live into the promise You have given me through grace.

Merciful Savior, You have kept me from walking into destruction. Guide me according to Your goodness to live into the life to which I have been called. Help me now and always to live the promise You give through grace. May I daily remember that it is simple: trust You and walk with You. Amen

Letter to the ELCA’s Upper Susquehanna Synod

14, 2019

Bishop Collins –

read with considerable confusion and concern your letter to the Rev. W. Stevens
Shipman informing him that action had been taken by the Upper Susquehanna Synod
Council to remove him from the Word and Sacrament roster of the Evangelical
Lutheran Church in America.

area of confusion was in your quotation from section 8.62.15.d of the ELCA’s
constitution which says that “ministers on the Word and Sacrament roster of the
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America must accept and adhere to this church’s
Confession of Faith, as well as abide by this church’s standards and policies
for ministers of Word and Sacrament.”

all know that there are pastors of the ELCA who do not adhere to the ELCA’s
Confession of Faith.  One needs to look
no further than Ebenezerher Church in San Francisco, which promotes goddess
worship; the various versions of the Lord’s Prayer which were options in the
service after 2009 which welcomed or welcomed back people to the ELCA Clergy
Roster; and any followers of Marcus Borg and his version of “Progressive
Christianity,” which denies the deity and physical, bodily resurrection of
Jesus.  There were pastors on the clergy
roster of the synod in which I served before I retired (Southwest California)
who did not believe in the basic tenants of the historic, orthodox Christian
faith as expressed in the ELCA’s Confession of Faith, but the bishop just
looked the other way.

needs to look no further than the signers of the “We Are Naked and Unashamed”
movement to find people who are objecting to – and one can safely assume are
not living up to – the ELCA’s standards and policies for ministers of Word and
Sacrament.  And yet not only are they
allowed to remain on the ELCA clergy roster, they are celebrated, endorsed, two
of them were chosen to be keynote speakers at last summer’s youth gathering,
and in many ways one of them, who openly advocates for “ethically sourced porn”
and sex outside of marriage, has been allowed to become the most prominent,
public spokesperson for the ELCA.

a letter to Bishop Eaton I expressed my concerns regarding last summer’s youth
gathering.  She wrote back, “Regarding
the ‘We Are Naked and Unashamed’ movement, it is not an official group or
policy of the ELCA.  I do not wish to
give more attention and credence to a movement that is outside this church’s
social teaching by speaking about it publicly.” 
Again, nothing is being done.  It
is not being addressed.  It is being
allowed to continue and even flourish even though it is in violation of “this
church’s standards and policies for ministers of Word and Sacrament.”

their “Pastoral Message”, which was released on March 6, 2019, the ELCA
Conference of Bishops said regarding “Visions and Expectations,” “We recognize
and acknowledge that its application has been uneven and inequitable.”  They ended by saying, “We aspire and pledge
in the future to apply the church’s standards for ministry with equity and
compassion.”  Is your removing Pastor
Shipman from the ELCA’s clergy roster while other people are being allowed to
remain on the roster another example of ELCA standards being applied unevenly
and inequitably?

area of concern has to do with the Synod Council’s motion, which you quoted at
the end of your letter, in which the Synod Council expressed its support for any
decision that you would make that would prohibit Pastor Shipman from even
attending a synod function and or event, “especially as a representative of
Lutheran CORE.” 

the Synod Council saying that no representative of Lutheran CORE would be
welcome to attend one of your synod’s functions and or events?  Would I, as Executive Director of Lutheran
CORE and a retired pastor on the ELCA roster, or a pastor or member of a
congregation that is a part of the Upper Susquehanna Synod, also not be welcome
to attend a synod function and or event, such as to set up a display table at a
synod assembly?

Eaton began the letter which I previously referred to with these words: “Grace
and peace to you and to our brothers and sisters in Christ who are part of the
Lutheran Coalition for Renewal.”  Pages 19-21
of the “Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust” social statement, which was approved
by the 2009 Churchwide Assembly, laid out four different positions on
same-gender relationships and behavior, which the document said are held to by
people “with conviction and integrity.”  The
social statement also said, “This church . . . encourages all people to live
out their faith . . . with profound respect for the conscience-bound belief of
the neighbor.”  That same paragraph ended
by saying, “Regarding our life together as we live with disagreement, the
people in this church will continue to accompany one another in study, prayer,
discernment, pastoral care, and mutual respect.”

March 6 “Pastoral Message” from the ELCA Conference of Bishops ends by saying,
“We aspire and pledge in the future . . . to listen and take seriously the concerns
of all our leaders – particularly those who historically have been
marginalized.”  Do the leaders of the
ELCA, including the leaders of the Upper Susquehanna Synod, wish to “listen and
take seriously the concerns of all our leaders” – not just those who are
described as “historically . . 
marginalized,” but also those who are currently the most marginalized –
those with a historic, traditional view?

you for your leadership in the Upper Susquehanna Synod and your attention to my
confusion and concern.  I will look
forward to receiving your response.


D. Nelson

Director of Lutheran CORE

ELCA Pastor