Press release on Hawley Lutheran Church vote to exit the ELCA

The Forum’s Marino Eccher reported today that the Hawley Lutheran Church voted Sunday to leave the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Read that story here. Talk about it here.

Below is a press release sent by Rev. Jeff Teeples, pastor at Halwey Lutheran.

“At a special congregational meeting on Sunday December 19 Hawley Lutheran Church has voted to disaffiliate from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Our final vote passed by a 80% majority (239 for and 60 against). We are confident that God has led us as a congregation to this outcome for the sake of our mission. We are a group of sinners saved by grace and we are not perfect or even close. It grieves us that people have associated our decision to leave the ELCA with intolerance, contempt and bigotry, because these attitudes are not the attitude of Jesus who we follow and love and not the attitudes we teach or would want to exhibit. The decision to disaffiliate from the ELCA unites us to stand upon the Bible as the final authority in all matters of our faith and life and to proclaim Jesus as the Savior of the world. We look forward to being part of Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ and to serving our Lord, community and world into the future as we have in the past.”

BarlowGirl coming to Fargo as part of PULSE multi-media Christmas concert event



PULSE Outreach presents a Christmas concert event featuring Christian rock act BarlowGirl at 7 p.m. Dec. 12 at Bethel Church, 2702 30th Ave. S. in Fargo.

The multi-media event also features music by Reilly and worship artist Dave Lubben, and PULSE Dir. Nick Hall will share a message. Tickets are $10 and available at, local Christian bookstores, Bethel Church or at the door.

PULSE is a student-launched organization from Fargo that “exists to bring a message of hope in Jesus Christ to this generation.”

ELCA leaders applaud Congress’ passage of child nutrition bill

From“Leaders of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) applauded the passage in the U.S. House of Representatives of federal legislation that invests $4.5 billion in child nutrition programs,” according to an ELCA press release. “The legislation was approved Dec. 2 during the lame-duck session this week, as Congress prepares to adjourn for the holiday season.”

“ELCA members across the country were part of a coordinated effort to pass the bill. Top leaders of several Christian denominations, including the Rev. Mark S. Hanson, ELCA presiding bishop, wrote to U.S. House leaders earlier this week, urging the legislation’s adoption. Hanson also spoke about the legislation in a Nov. 1 meeting faith leaders’ meeting with President Obama in Washington.”

“‘This bill is an exciting victory for hungry children. After a largely gridlocked year, passage of this bill is a positive sign that Congress can work together in the best interests of Americans,’ Hanson said.”

Read the full release:

Fargo, Bismarck dioceses launch TV campaign to bring people back to church

A scene from the national TV advertisement, "Epic."

“The Bismarck Catholic Diocese will unveil a multifaceted welcome mat soon for those who have drifted away from the church,” according to an article from The Bismarck Tribune printed in today’s Forum.

“The ‘Catholics Come Home’ TV commercials will air statewide from Dec. 17 to Jan. 30 for both the Bismarck and Fargo dioceses; they are financed separately by each diocese.”

Read more:

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Dickinson City Commission wants policy on religious symbols

The Dickinson City Commission is considering a policy regarding the display of religious symbols on city property, reports The Dickinson Press.

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Christian Post: Petition Asking Apple to Reinstate Christian App Gains Steam

 “A petition launched Thursday to protest Apple’s decision to remove an iPhone app opposing gay marriage is quickly gaining steam,” reports the “Christian Post.”

“The Manhattan Declaration app, which allowed Apple users to add their name to the ecumenical document in support of the sanctity of life, traditional marriage and religious liberty, was pulled from the App Store over the Thanksgiving holiday after a group of activists charged the app as anti-gay.”

Read more:

President Barack Obama’s Thanksgiving Day proclamation

Below is the text from U.S. President Barack Obama’s Thanksgiving Day proclamation:


Presidential Proclamation–Thanksgiving Day

A beloved American tradition, Thanksgiving Day offers us the opportunity to focus our thoughts on the grace that has been extended to our people and our country.  This spirit brought together the newly arrived Pilgrims and the Wampanoag tribe — who had been living and thriving around Plymouth, Massachusetts for thousands of years — in an autumn harvest feast centuries ago.  This Thanksgiving Day, we reflect on the compassion and contributions of Native Americans, whose skill in agriculture helped the early colonists survive, and whose rich culture continues to add to our Nation’s heritage.  We also pause our normal pursuits on this day and join in a spirit of fellowship and gratitude for the year’s bounties and blessings.

Thanksgiving Day is a time each year, dating back to our founding, when we lay aside the troubles and disagreements of the day and bow our heads in humble recognition of the providence bestowed upon our Nation.  Amidst the uncertainty of a fledgling experiment in democracy, President George Washington declared the first Thanksgiving in America, recounting the blessings of tranquility, union, and plenty that shined upon our young country.  In the dark days of the Civil War when the fate of our Union was in doubt, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a Thanksgiving Day, calling for “the Almighty hand” to heal and restore our Nation.

In confronting the challenges of our day, we must draw strength from the resolve of previous generations who faced their own struggles and take comfort in knowing a brighter day has always dawned on our great land.  As we stand at the close of one year and look to the promise of the next, we lift up our hearts in gratitude to God for our many blessings, for one another, and for our Nation.  This Thanksgiving Day, we remember that the freedoms and security we enjoy as Americans are protected by the brave men and women of the United States Armed Forces.  These patriots are willing to lay down their lives in our defense, and they and their families deserve our profound gratitude for their service and sacrifice.

This harvest season, we are also reminded of those experiencing the pangs of hunger or the hardship of economic insecurity.  Let us return the kindness and generosity we have seen throughout the year by helping our fellow citizens weather the storms of our day.

As Americans gather for the time-honored Thanksgiving Day meal, let us rejoice in the abundance that graces our tables, in the simple gifts that mark our days, in the loved ones who enrich our lives, and in the gifts of a gracious God.  Let us recall that our forebears met their challenges with hope and an unfailing spirit, and let us resolve to do the same.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim Thursday, November 25, 2010, as a National Day of Thanksgiving.  I encourage all the people of the United States to come together — whether in our homes, places of worship, community centers, or any place of fellowship for friends and neighbors — to give thanks for all we have received in the past year, to express appreciation to those whose lives enrich our own, and to share our bounty with others.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-third day of November, in the year of our Lord two thousand ten, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fifth.

              BARACK OBAMA

Fargo Bishop Aquila: Pope’s statements were not condoning the use of condoms

Bishop Samuel Aquila

Fargo Catholic Diocese Bishop Samuel Aquila says the pope’s recent comments related to condom use do not indicate a shift away from the church’s general teaching against the use of condoms or contraceptives.

Pope Benedict XVI “is not condoning the use of condoms but making an observation regarding the awakening of a sense of responsibility in the people who are caught up in the habitual sin of prostitution,” Aquila said in a written statement Monday.

Comments made by the pope in excerpts from the book-length interview “Light of the World” had been interpreted by some as justifying the use of condoms in some cases.

Read the full Forum story:

Talk about it here.

For more background information on the story: and

Fargo Bishop Aquila, North Dakota Catholic Conference criticize Burdick’s decision not to press charges in case of doctor who performed abortions without state license

In a Forum story today, Pat Springer reported: “The Cass County state’s attorney has declined to

Fargo Diocese Bishop Samuel Aquila

bring criminal charges against a doctor at the Red River Women’s Clinic who performed abortions with a temporarily expired state medical license.”

Fargo Catholic Diocese Bishop Samuel Aquila responded to the decision not to press charges in the following statement:

I am disappointed by Cass County state’s attorney Birch Burdick’s decision to not file charges stemming from illegal abortions performed at the Red River Women’s Clinic in Fargo.  The North Dakota legislature enacted laws specifically designed to protect women seeking abortions, including those that expressly require a properly licensed physician.  At the same time, there is no fulfillment of the regulations of any civil law which will transform the evil of abortion into a morally acceptable act.  Abortion harms children, women, and fathers in all instances, whether ‘legal’ or not.

Christopher Dodson, executive director of the North Dakota Catholic Conference, released the following statement:

Cass County state’s attorney Birch Burdick’s failure to file charges stemming from illegal abortions performed at the Red River Women’s Clinic is disappointing and sets a dangerous precedent.

The interest of the North Dakota Catholic Conference in this case has not been about attacking Dr. Thorndike or the Red River Women’s Clinic, but about whether our state’s abortions laws will be enforced and whether women seeking abortions will get the full protection under the law.

The investigation left no doubt that Lori Thorndike performed “a number of abortions” without a North Dakota license on September 30.  According to state law, that means she committed several misdemeanors and one felony for each abortion.  The facts are established.  The law is on the books.  What is missing is a willingness to enforce the law.

The reasons given by Mr. Burdick for declining to prosecute are not persuasive.

Burdick concludes that the “administrative mechanisms” available to the Board of Medical Examiners provides a “suitable remedy.”  That conclusion, however, disregards the express provisions of the law and the will of the North Dakota Legislative Assembly.  If the administrative remedies were sufficient, the legislature would not have passed the provisions of the Abortion Control Act.

Burdick states that he is “unable to conceive of a reason” for treating unlicensed abortionists differently from other physicians.  With all due respect, it is not his place to second guess the legislature on why they enact laws.

In fact, there do exist reasons for the difference.  As I wrote previously:

“One reason is that some abortion providers around the country have shown disregard for basic health, safety, and medical standards.  The North Dakota legislature took notice of these instances and chose to prevent them by enacting more stringent standards.  In addition, abortion advocates have insisted that non-physicians have a ‘right’ to conduct abortions.  A felony penalty prevents non-physicians from performing abortions – thus endangering women’s lives – and accepting a misdemeanor penalty as ‘one for the cause.’”

The state’s attorney concludes that he “believes” the only purpose of the legislation was to prevent medically untrained persons from conducting abortions.  That belief is not supported by the language of the law itself and would lead to the absurd conclusion that a medical school graduate never needs to get a license to perform abortions.

While the state’s attorney has the discretion to consider extenuating circumstances when recommending penalties, the complete absence of any charges for the many criminal violations that occurred at the clinic sends the wrong message about protecting women and rule of law.

Read a press release about the decision from the Cass County state’s attorney’s office.