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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Red book gets green light

After voting down three amendments that would have delayed the Renewing Worship project, the assembly approved 740-252 a new red worship book and other worship resources yet to unfold.

A process that began in 2001 and involved thousands of people was tested as voting members questioned everything from expanded language for God to whether the new book would send Augsburg Fortress, Publishers, into bankruptcy.

The first amendment, which would have stalled approval until 2009, failed 264-719. Those supporting the amendments wanted more time and an expanded circle of people to study the resources.

Karl Moyer, Lower Susquehanna Synod, said, “The need for speed is not so great as the need for care.” Robert Benne, Virginia Synod, said he sensed there had been an “intent to snip, prune, hunt down any masculine pronouns for God.”

Others, like David Housholder, Pacifica Synod, offered this solution: “If you like it, buy it. If you don’t, there’s lots of resources out there.”

Marcus Miller, bishop of the Northeastern Ohio Synod, asked that the process not return to the 2009 assembly: “We’ll talk about every hymn in the book. Please vote no [on this amendment].”

The second amendment asked that the Lutheran Book of Worship be retained as the core worship book and that a constellation of resources in a variety of media be developed. James Boline, Southwest California Synod, said such an amendment would derail the process, which he described as having “integrity and fidelity.” “To delay this good work,” he said, would be “a disastrous and dastardly deed—a fear-filled breach of trust.”

The second amendment failed 347-634.

The third amendment called for two more years of expanded theological study of the resources. John Hergert, Eastern Washington-Idaho Synod, described the questions being raised about the integrity of the work and people involved as “offensive” and called such critique “taking micro-managing to an extreme.”

“It makes Monday night look like the proverbial church picnic,” he added, referring to the four hours spent the first night on debating the rules of organization and procedure.

The third amendment failed 308-677.

A worship book is expected to be available in October 2006; a “family of resources,” both print and electronic will also be developed. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada has also said it will use the resources.


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