And Now for Something Completely Different?: Gay Lutheran Bishop Presides at Revisionist Worship Service

by Andrew E Harrod, Juicy Ecumenism

 

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s (ELCA) first openly gay bishop, Guy Erwin, presided over a highly heterodox worship service on August 14, 2013, during ELCA’s 2013 Churchwide Assembly in Pittsburgh. Erwin’s subsequent dismissal of the service’s doctrinal significance notwithstanding, the bishop’s presence amidst such liturgical revisionism raises disturbing questions about proper theological formation in the ELCA.

 

 

This Festival Worship took place in the Omni William Penn Hotel’s Grand Ballroom after the ELCA assembly’s events had concluded that day in the David L. Lawrence Convention Center blocks away. For the unsuspecting churchgoer, the service’s liturgical program printed by the gay Lutheran groups hosting the worship, ReconcilingWorks and Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries, was jarring. The service’s “Thanksgiving for Baptism,” for example, invokes the “triune God” not under the formulation given by Jesus in the Gospels of “Father, Son, and Holy Ghost/Spirit,” but rather “Creator, Christ, and Holy Spirit.”

 

 

Any adherent of orthodoxy like me, accustomed to the Anglican 1928 Book of Common Prayer (BCP), would be flabbergasted by the program’s “Affirmation of Faith.” This apparent reworking of Christianity’s basic statement of faith, the Nicene Creed invokes again a non-gendered “God” as opposed to the creed’s “Father Almighty” in the 1928 BCP translation. Likewise, the God who “came to us in human form—Jesus” receives no gender designation as the “only-begotten Son of God.”

 

 

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