Daniel Shaw was ordained July 20 as an ELCA pastor in Tacoma, Wash. His bishop, Chris Boerger, attended — but not to preside. Shaw was ordained by Richard Foege, the pastor of his home congregation.
Shaw, a graduate of Luther Seminary, St. Paul, Minn., was the first ELCA candidate to be granted an exception to the portion of the Called to Common Mission agreement with the Episcopal Church that requires pastors to be ordained by an ELCA bishop.
The exception policy allows ordination by a pastor in place of a bishop in "unusual circumstances." Shaw objected to the requirement based on his confessional understanding of the relationship between the authority of God's word and human authority. He argued that ordination by a bishop should not be necessary to "constitute" the church.
"It's important to recognize that [this case is] an argument of conscience, not a matter of personal convenience," Boerger says.
Boerger affirms the sincerity of Shaw's position. "It's a part of who he is and who he will be as a pastor," he says, noting that Shaw is exactly the type of candidate for whom the exception was established. Shaw isn't "anti-authority," Boeger explains, but has acted from "an understanding of where the call for ministry comes and where the authority for ministry comes." Shaw will serve as pastor of Zion Lutheran Church, Kent, Wash.
"I trust this ordination will be a significant healing step for those in the ELCA who continue to express theological opposition" to the ordination requirement, says Mark Hanson, ELCA presiding bishop, "even as we build upon the new opportunities for shared mission with our full communion partners."
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