Questions on ordination...
exception one bishop asked
by Rolf Wangberg (bishop of the
Northwestern Minnesota Synod)
December 20, 2004
If someone makes a request for a non-episcopal ordination under the
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's (ELCA) 2001 bylaw amendment, what
questions might they receive from their new synodical bishop?
The nine questions below were sent by Bishop Rolf Wangberg, Northwestern
Minnesota Synod, to two new pastors when they applied for an exception to the
policy of episcopal ordination within the ELCA.
Bishop Wangberg gave permission to post these questions with this
What you need to know about those questions is that there is nothing
permanent about them. The next time I will probably use another set of
questions. They were simply a way to try to help students address the issues
that need to be addressed in asking for an exception (rather than simply saying,
"I want an exception, because I have a right to an exception." OR "I want an
exception so my uncle can do my ordination.") and in answering questions council
members have asked of me as I consult with them. I will probably use other
questions next time. And I am open to other suggestions at how to get at helping
students describe how their situation meets the description of being a kind that
is unusual warranting an exception because granting an exception will enhance
the mission, ministry and unity of the church.
- What is it that makes your situation so unusual that it warrants the bishop
granting an exception and authorizing ordination by a pastor of the ELCA?
- What is it about granting an exception that is on a moral level higher than
the playground where a kid takes his ball and goes home if the team won't let
him be the quarterback?
- Why would a congregation think your request for an exception is nothing more
than a candidate insisting on the candidate's own way out of irritability or
- Since you have already indicated to me that your request is tied to Called
to Common Mission, what is it in Called to Common Mission that makes ordination
by a bishop a church usage that cannot be observed without sin even if it
contributes to peace and good order in the church? (Chapter XV of the Augustana)
- Is there anything within CCM, when read with the most charitable
construction, which suggests Episcopal Ordination is necessary for salvation?
- As you build arguments for an exception to Episcopal Ordination, what are
the best arguments you can muster for Episcopal Ordination? (I am not looking
arguments to use against your request; I am giving you the opportunity to show
how closely you have listened to another position and how faithfully you can
- What is it about the requirement for Episcopal Ordination that is such a
flagrant mistake that the requirement should be set aside when we do not set
aside the requirements that ordinands be ordained by a pastor of the ELCA, that
ordinands complete a seminary education, and that ordinands be approved by
seminaries and candidacy committees?
- Summarize how granting an exception would "enhance and extend the ministry
and mission purposes of this church and contribute to the unity of the Church."
- Should an exception be granted, what role would a synodical bishop have in
the ordination service?