New task force...on seminarians begins its work

by Betsy Carlson (Editor, WordAlone Network)

December 14, 2001

A new WordAlone Task Force on Seminarians has begun its work to help seminary students in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) think about and face the implications of a new ELCA bylaw exempting seminary graduates from a requirement that only bishops ordain them. The two main concerns of the task force are: 1) How to inform and communicate with seminarians; 2) How to communicate with congregations who are interested in learning more about the bylaw, and in supporting seminarians who are interested in getting an exemption. The ordination-by-a-bishop requirement came from Called to Common Mission, a full communion agreement between the ELCA and the Episcopal Church USA, which was implemented at the beginning of 2001.

Task force chairman, Pastor Randy Freund of Hutchinson, Minn., asked the task force to work to make sure

  • that WA is informed as to the direction of the organization concerning the exemption issue especially;
  • that members of WA find out how the bishops are addressing these exemptions in their individual synods;
  • that WA congregations be contacted and urged to host area WA meetings where local members can be informed of the exemptions issue
  • that task force members and others contact their synod councils to initiate conversations about the use of the bylaw and how seminarians can proceed to obtain exemptions
  • that seminarians be contacted and informed of the work of the task force
  • that a process for meeting with seminarians, bishops and faculty be set up so that seminary seniors will be fully informed of their options by the end of February
  • that congregations involved in the call process be fully informed of their options.

Anyone with responses to these ideas, or who knows of seminarians who may be interested in an exemption, please contact the chair of the committee, Pastor Randy Freund at