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DEFROCKED in Norway


Pictured clockwise from Left) Pr Joel Kerosuo, Bp With, Bp Matti Väisänen, Bp Roland Gustafsson and Anssi Simojoki.

Photo courtesy of Jouko Makkonen.

Dear Praying Friends,

I am filled with deep gratitude to you who have prayed for my meeting with the Tunsberg bishop today. An extra thank you to all of you who responded so quickly. Assured of prayers and support from all of you, I traveled to Tønsberg with confidence. During the meeting, I felt comfort and peace.

The conversation in Tønsberg was characterized by a surprisingly calm seriousness. The Church of Norway has placed Mrs. Laila Riksaasen Dahl as bishop of Tunsberg diocese. Since I now live in Tunsberg diocese, it is her official duty to make the final decision on disciplinary measures, because I let myself be consecrated bishop in violation of applicable canon law provisions of the Church of Norway.

In the conversation I elaborated the basis for the actions that began with doctrinal conversations at my initiative with my then Bishop of Nidaros, and ended with my episcopal ordination in Tromsø in 2012. Laila Riksaasen Dahl listened attentively and sympathetically, revealing good theological insight and respect. She expressed, in an unexpectedly clear manner, her understanding that this matter shall at the Last Day be of profound seriousness to both parties.

I pointed out that when the bishops and CoN’s General Assembly accept unbiblical teachings in the Church, they break apart the unity of the Church of Norway. Because of the new doctrine of the bishop of Nidaros, I had to exclude him from the church communion fellowship. And when church members, because of what has happened elsewhere, have no shepherd and call me to help, my ordination vow commits me to take care of the flock – even as a bishop. With fervent desire I encouraged her, along with my former Bishop of Nidaros, to change their doctrine, and I promised my prayer for that to happen.

Laila Riksaasen Dahl concluded the conversation by stating that​​, particularly due to the episcopal ordination in Tromsø, she decided to terminate my authorization as a pastor in the Church of Norway. To this I replied that the new doctrine contrary to Scripture has led us to this rupture, and to the consequences that are now taking place. There and then I put on my episcopal cross and made visible in this way our claim to be a diocese in the church. Explicit notice was taken of this symbolic act.

Epilogue:

I see an image of the Norwegian church as a large and pleasant area, built on floats. Priests, bishops – and laity in the CoN General Assembly – cut away the tendons that keep this area secured to land – one mooring after the other. When the floating area now drifts from shore, it can easily seem that they who control developments are sending us who have other foundations under our feet away from themselves. But we, who stand on the firm ground, know that really it is they who drift away from the mainland of Christ’s Church; they drift away before the weather and wind of this age.

Let us pray that the Lord may have mercy!

Yours in Christ
+Thor Henrik

Boy Scouts of America: Why the Proposed Policy Change Matters

A statement by the Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison, President,

The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod

May 16, 2013

 

Western culture is at a crucial moment in history. After 103 years of existence, the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) may vote to change drastically its membership policy. For those who may be unaware, the BSA, in recent months, has discussed allowing both gay Scouts and Scout leaders into its organization. Recently, however, the BSA has changed its course. Now the vote will determine only whether to include openly homosexual Scouts as members.

LCMS leaders have been carefully monitoring the proposed BSA policy changes. When news of the proposed change was made public, I sent a letter to BSA, imploring its leadership not to make the proposed policy change. And even though the initial proposal to focus on Scout leaders has been shelved, I believe the current proposal still has unknown implications for the future of BSA as well as LCMS support and involvement. The proposed change will highlight sexuality, which has not been and should not be a matter of focus for Scouts. I suspect it will make it more challenging to care for young people struggling with same-sex attraction and perhaps open our churches to legal action.

This vote matters to the LCMS. The proposed change in BSA policy on values and membership to include openly homosexual Scouts adversely affects, even supersedes, the authority of the local pastor and congregation by allowing and promoting a moral position that we as LCMS Lutherans believe is against the will of God and in opposition to Holy Scripture.

This vote matters because, if enacted, the proposed change to BSA policy on values and membership will cause a crisis of conscience for our church leaders, pastors, parents and congregations. Even if the decision of values and membership remains at the local level, Scouts from troops sponsored by congregations of the LCMS will be affected because, as part of the scouting program, they also participate at regional and national scouting activities.

This vote matters because, for more than a century, scouting has sought to uphold moral values at a level greater than that of general society. The capitulation now to societal pressures would mar the long and honorable history of the Boy Scouts to honor the natural law of God, which at least for now, is still reflected in the current scouting membership policy.

For these reasons, I and some 25 other Protestant church leaders have signed onto a statement, copied below, that implores BSA not to change its policy, noting that, “In our current culture, it’s more important than ever for our churches to protect and provide moral nurture for young people and for the Scouts.”  The statement will be released in conjunction with its delivery to the BSA office and before the organization’s vote, which will take place May 24.

I share this with you today because it is difficult to know which of our LCMS BSA members will be part of the 1,400 members who will vote on the policy change later this month. I am hopeful that all of you will share this information with those in your congregation who are involved with BSA and even those in your community who will cast votes later this month.

As the church awaits the BSA vote, we still have much to do. We repent, and we pray. We confess Christ and elevate marriage among us. We do what the church does best: We bear witness to Christ, show mercy to those in our midst — including those challenged by same-sex attraction — and care for all in our life together.

Pastor Matthew C. Harrison

President, The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod

 

 

Statement

We strongly support the Boy Scouts of America current prohibition on open homosexuality and retaining it without revision.  Nearly 70 percent of BSA troops are hosted by churches and religious institutions.  Upholding traditional morality is vital for sustaining this partnership, for protecting Scout members, and for ensuring BSA has a strong future.  A proposal from the BSA board to prohibit “discrimination” based on “sexual orientation or preference” for BSA members potentially would open the Scouts to a wide range of open sexual expressions.  In our current culture, it’s more important than ever for our churches to protect and provide moral nurture for young people and for the Scouts.  We implore members of the upcoming BSA Council to affirm the BSA’s present policy, which the U.S. Supreme Court has affirmed, and which has served BSA well.

 

 

Bishop David C. Anderson, Sr.

President, American Anglican Council

 

Sara L. Anderson

Executive Vice President

Bristol House, Ltd. (United Methodist)

 

The Rev. Canon Phil Ashey

Chief Operating & Development Officer

American Anglican Council

 

Dr. Robert D. Benne (Lutheran)

Jordan Trexler Professor Emeritus

and Research Associate

Religion and Philosophy, Roanoke College

 

Dr. Robert H. Blackburn

Past Chairman, National Association of Covenanting Congregations

 

The Rev. John Bradosky, Bishop

The North American Lutheran Church

 

Pastor Mark C. Chavez

General Secretary, North American Lutheran Church

 

The Rev. Sue Cyre

Executive Director of Presbyterians for Faith, Family and Ministry (PFFM)

 

The Rev. Dr. Matthew Harrison

President, The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod

 

Doug Harvey, Executive Director

Disciple Heritage Fellowship

 

The Rev. Charles Huckaby

Dean, Western Classis of the Calvin Synod Conference United Church of Christ Term 2010– 2013

 

Dr. Jeffrey Jeremiah

Stated Clerk

Evangelical Presbyterian Church

 

John Lomperis

Director, United Methodist Action

 

 

Alex McFarland

Director for Christian Worldview and Apologetics

 

Senator Patricia Miller

Executive Director, Confessing Movement (United Methodist)

 

Bob Morrison

Secretary, REVIVE! (Iowa United Methodist renewal)

 

The Rev. Dr. Mary Holder Naegeli

Minister-at-Large, San Francisco Presbytery; Moderator of the Presbyterian Coalition

 

Rev. Kevin C. Rudolph

National Covenant Association of Churches

Windwood Presbyterian Church

Houston, TX

 

The Rev. Dr. Frederick J. Schumacher

Executive Director, American Lutheran Publicity Bureau

 

The Rev. W. Stevens Shipman

Director, Lutheran Coalition for Renewal

 

The Rev. Paul Stallsworth

President, Taskforce of United Methodists on Abortion and Sexuality

 

David M. Stanley

Director, Institute on Religion and Democracy

Chairman, United Methodist Action Steering Committee

Co-Chair, REVIVE! (Iowa United Methodist renewal)

 

Bishop Ray Sutton

Ecumenical Officer, Anglican Church in North America

 

Mark Tooley

President, Institute on Religion & Democracy

 

The Rev. Dr. David Wendel, Assistant to the Bishop for Ministry and Ecumenism

The North American Lutheran Church

 

Dr. George O. Wood

General Superintendent

General Council of the Assemblies of God

 

 

Read more about the proposed change here.

Thor With

The De-Frocking of Bishop Thor Henrik With

Thor With

{Note: Bishop Thor Henrik With was consecrated Bishop in Northern Norway (Valgmenighetene i Nordnorge) in a Divine Service on Saturday, 24 March 2012, in Tromsø, Norway. LCMS Theological Educator to the Baltics, Rev. Dr. Charles Evanson attended Bishop With’s consecration. He provides the translation below with a plea for prayers as it appears Bishop With will be defrocked by the Church of Norway for holding to the Holy Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions. Pictured is Bishop With with Archbishop Obare from 24 March 2012.}

 

Dear friends!

Will you pray for me, and again tomorrow, Thursday, May 16?

I am summoned to meet the bishop of Tunsberg tomorrow at 10 am, because I have allowed myself to become bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Foundation in Norway. Apparently the bishop of Tunsberg will announce the decision that I will be deprived of priestly rights in the Norwegian church. As they say, I am to “lose robe and collar.”

Since the Church of Norway has deluded itself into thinking that God blesses gay relationships and made it a doctrine, to which bishops and priests are to gladly agree to in their dioceses and parishes, the loss of priestly rights is sad, but it is not catastrophic. It is hard to bear that church members are deceived in this way, and that brother priests whom I would lead in the good fight of faith now become opponents. Also in other serious matters the church which took me into the ministry when I was ordained on December 16, 1979 is suffering. It is in serious conflict with the only Word that can give life and eternal salvation.

Will you pray that I receive wisdom and love to carry forward concern and guidance before the Tunsberg bishop, and to testify clearly about that to which  God’s Word commits us?

What is most of all at stake is the faithfulness of bishops and priests to Scripture and the Lutheran Confession to which they pledged their commitment at ordination – and therewith their proper guidance and care for all God’s people, on the road to judgment and the resurrection of life.

I thank you very much, friends, that I can count on you!

 

Yours in Christ,

+ Thor Henrik

Posted by Rev. Dr. Albert B. Collver, LCMS Director of Church Relations.

The Kermit Gosnell Verdict: Implications for Pro-Life Lutheran Christians–A statement by LCMS Life Ministries

 

 

The Kermit Gosnell Verdict: Implications for Pro-Life Lutheran Christians

A statement by LCMS Life Ministries

May 13, 2013

After a nine-week trial, which included weeks of graphic testimony, a Pennsylvania jury found Dr. Kermit Gosnell guilty of three of four counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of babies who were born alive, but who died after their spinal cords were severed in procedures Gosnell called “abortions.” He was acquitted on the fourth murder charge. Gosnell also was convicted of involuntary manslaughter  in the botched abortion death of one mother. He faced 258 counts total, including 24 counts of performing abortions after 24 weeks gestation, which is illegal in Pennsylvania, and hundreds of charges of violating Pennsylvania’s informed consent and 24-hour waiting period laws. The jury is now in the penalty phase.

Gosnell’s murder trial became the subject of much debate nationally after pro-life activists and others criticized the mainstream media for ignoring the trial early on.

As pro-life Christians devoted to the biblical understanding of the sanctity of human life, we grieve over the tragic loss of these lives and the thousands of other children and mothers who die daily as a result of abortion. Today’s conviction of Gosnell brings justice for the many victims of this horrific abortion facility and demonstrates that abortion is clearly a slippery slope that seeks to deprive the most helpless of their basic human right: life.

The LCMS develops and promotes resources and support for pregnant women so they can avoid seeking abortions. Abortion doesn’t solve — but only masks — problems many women face and leaves many of them grieving the death of a child.

The Gosnell case generated a larger debate and rightly caused people to consider the philosophical issue of why an abortion procedure performed in utero is legal, but also how a similar act a few minutes later, outside the womb, is considered homicide.

Clearly, the case was about the death of five persons and no one can argue against the personhood of these four smaller humans. This case has exposed the ugly underbelly of the pro-abortion movement and it has brought the humanity of unborn children before the public conscience.

We call upon legislators and citizens to examine the brutality of abortion, which takes the lives of 1.2 million children every year, and the mothers who die as well. (The Center for Disease Control reports that about 400 women have died as a result of legal abortions since 1973, and 12 died in 2008, the last time such research was gathered.)

Our church aims to be a place of forgiveness, mercy and healing for all people as we continue to proclaim Christ’s comfort and truth in love. As we move forward following this ruling, we offer up our prayers for women and children in need, for families, that those still participating in the abortion industry would stop, and for our nation.

Additional Information

For more information, contact:

Maggie Karner, director, Life Ministries

The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod

maggie.karner@lcms.org

888-THE LCMS (843-5267)