graphic website title banner

Attempting to "shrink" the network

Pastor Jaynan Clark Egland (President, WordAlone Network)

June 28, 2002

Reflecting upon my experiences last week at synod council meetings, a synod assembly and now reading page 8 of “The Lutheran,” I am reminded of that movie title, “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.” photo of Jaynan Clark EglandThere seems to be a concerted effort towards minimizing and marginalizing the Network in order to reduce our effect and influence on the wider church. If we are identified as a “splinter group,” or marginalized to be a Midwest-based special interest group, we are more easily stereotyped and dismissed. In this time of “inclusivity” it is amazing how exclusive the institutional churches are (pan-mainline denominations) of their own concerned membership.

I am hopeful that during our recent meeting with Mark Hanson, Presiding Bishop of the ELCA, we shattered some of the existing stereotypes of who we are as a Network and broadened the ELCA leadership’s perception of WordAlone’s mission emphasis and concerns for the direction that the ELCA is going.

It occurred to me as I listened to the activity of our synod council and assembly, that the paramount fear is that of being viewed as a fundamentalist or a biblicist. No one seemed too concerned whether we acted as heretics or idolaters. If the questions of the authority of the Word, the sovereignty of Jesus as Lord and Savior or confessional integrity were mentioned, one was viewed with suspicion and dismissed as one of those “conservatives.” One person even addressed me as the “Queen of the Rebels.” I asked that person when it became rebellious to be a witness to the authority of the Word, the sovereignty of Jesus Christ and the freedom of the Gospel? The church definitely needs more rebels by those standards.

I am discouraged when I witness the pervasive attitude of not wanting to be bothered with “information” because minds have already been made up. Yet, I am encouraged by the courage of members of the Network as they witness at microphones and in the hallways and over coffee. I am encouraged by the broadening of the Network in spite of the efforts to “shrink” us. I am encouraged that with the first “exceptions” being granted, we as a Network have the opportunity to be “typed” as the exceptional, irregular and unusual folks who find our identity in the freedom that is ours in Christ alone.