Growing opposition exists within the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America to the full communion proposals with the Episcopal Church and with three churches of the Reformed tradition--the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Reformed Church in America and United Church of Christ. The ELCA was to vote on the proposals at the Churchwide Assembly Aug. 14-20.
Twenty Lutheran theologians published a "position paper" in the quarterly publication Lutheran Forum (summer issue). And Albert H. Quie, former governor of Minnesota, gathered signatures from 160 prominent Lutherans for an open memorandum to the assembly's voting members.
The 20 theologians say of the Reformed and Episcopal proposals: "We find the variety of opinions within the ELCA toward the two proposals to be far more diverse than what should be acceptable for 'full communion.' ... If our position were interpreted as being against ecumenical endeavors, nothing would be further from our intent."
Quie claims the ecumenical proposal will set the churches on a course that reverses the ELCA's decisions on the ordering of ministry.
Seven who signed the Quie document were among the 20 who wrote the Forum article, including William H. Lazareth, Princeton, N.J., and L. David Brown, Minneapolis, both former synod bishops. David W. Preus, Minneapolis, and Robert J. Marshall, Chicago, heads of two ELCA predecessor bodies, were among the 20.
Meanwhile, 37 synod bishops sent a letter to each assembly voting member encouraging a "yes" vote for the proposals.
"That we can be in a relationship of full communion with Presbyterians and Episcopalians at the same time simply maintains that we are not bound to a form of ministry prescribed by another (either) church," the bishops wrote.
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