At the June meeting of the Word Alone Board of Directors, the board selected three priorities. Our priorities for Word Alone Chapters are Bible and theological study and education and learning to share the Gospel; impacting Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) politics and structures; and finally, to grow the WordAlone Network. In a follow-up move, the regional coordinators, during their July 16 conference phone call, said they wished to add one additional priority.
It is to recruit potential candidates for ordained ministry and to communicate with and support those already enrolled at a seminary. The coordinators believe this is necessary because some seminaries not only do not inform their students of the provision for ordination in unusual circumstances, but also discourage any discussion of this exception for new pastors to be ordained by other pastors rather than by a bishop, which is required by Called to Common Mission (CCM), the full communion agreement between the ELCA and The Episcopal Church USA.
My church has a candidate for seminary who will begin training in 2004. I have been asked to be one of four lay mentors to this candidate. In keeping with the goals of the WordAlone Network, I will make sure that I share the information regarding the provision for exceptional ordinations with him. I will discuss the historic episcopate and CCM with him as well.
Recently, the Churchwide Assembly received a proposal by the New England Synod that would terminate the provision for exceptional ordinations on Jan.1, 2008. The Churchwide Assembly referred the proposal to the Division for Ministry “as information in its ongoing review” of the policy for ordination in unusual circumstances “in consultation with the Conference of Bishops and the Church Council.” While this may be the first salvo aimed at the exception provision, it won’t be the last. Constant vigilance will be necessary to safeguard this option for our pastors in the future.