I watched much of the ELCA debates yesterday on the live webcast and was so VERY impressed with the pastoral response offered to his WHOLE church by Lutheran Bishop Mark Hanson. Well worth the seven minutes to hear this grace-filled message of reconciliation, hope and faithfulness making VERY clear that the only ones excluded are those who choose to exclude themselves.
Here's the comment I just posted to the ELCA blogsite ... as an encouragement to go and do likewise:
I am an Episcopalian who has been praying for your Assembly and watching with deep respect the careful, prayerful process by which your church has moved forward on these questions of inclusion that challenge all our faith communities. I rejoice in the opportunties yesterday's decisions will provide for our churches to work together in common mission and I am deeply grateful for this profoundly pastoral response offered by Bishop Hanson following the announcement of the final vote.
His words of compassion, hope and grace-filled reconciliation left no room for doubt that the ELCA is striving to be a church where ALL are not only welcome but embraced. Those who choose to walk away from fellowship with the ELCA will do so because they "feel" excluded -- not because they have been excluded.
I hope Bishop Hanson's words will reach far beyond the ELCA for they are good news not just for Lutherans but for all seeking to live in community as the Body of Christ where all members are loved, valued and included.