A year after denomination accepted gay clergy, some local Lutheran churches appear to be leaving

The following was found in my local paper this morning; I don’t know how many of you have similar information showing up in your papers, but it shows the impact that the recent ELCA decisions are having on local churches. As I started reading it, I was happy that these churches that have acquaintances and friends of mine in them are leaving the ELCA, but then I read the list of churches that are not intending leaving, and you realize it isn’t as widespread as we would hope. In addition to what’s listed here, I know of one or two other local churches that left the ELCA prior to the 2009 convention because of the direction they are headed. Two other related articles appearing in the paper are: Lutherans have history of offshoots and ELCA seeing decrease in income since decision on homosexuals.

 


 

The face of Lutheranism in East Central Illinois will change this fall.

Three small-town congregations that have been part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America – the largest Lutheran denomination in the U.S. – for 22 years are switching affiliations.

The dispute pits orthodox, or traditional, ministry against progressive changes.

The trigger point was a vote almost a year ago, at the denomination’s biennial national meeting, to open its clergy roster to gay and lesbian ministers who are in committed, same-gender relationships. Previously, homosexual clergy had to remain celibate to stay in the pulpit.

“That’s just the spark and the boil-over point,” said the Rev. Jeffray Greene, pastor of American Lutheran Church, Rantoul. “Please don’t say it’s about sex. … It’s become sexually charged.

“You’re gay, not gay; who cares?” he said. “It’s a scriptural issue. We all misbehave. Why focus on one sin? Every sin qualifies you for hell.”

Three congregations in East Central Illinois Lutherans have taken their first vote to leave the ELCA:

– At American Lutheran, Rantoul, with a weekly average attendance of 360, 94 percent voted to leave.

– At Immanuel Lutheran, Flatville, 240 average attendance, 94 percent.

– At St. John’s Lutheran, Royal, 220 average attendance, 97.6 percent.

Their final votes to leave will be mid-October at the earliest.

“I do not see a change in the vote,” said the Rev. Jay Johnson, pastor in Royal.

The procedure required to leave the denomination requires two votes of two-thirds of members at a congregational meeting. The votes are separated by a minimum of 90 days with a consultation of the bishop in between. The rules were set up when three Lutheran denominations merged to form the ELCA in 1988.

Said Greene, the Rantoul pastor: “I also do not expect a sales pitch from the bishop, just the question of ‘Where can we do mission work together?'”

Bishop Warren Freiheit of Springfield, head of the Central/Southern Illinois Synod, said: “A consultation is not a pep talk or a begging process. It is an opportunity to make sure the leaders of a congregation, together with the members, understand what leaving an established denomination means for the future of their mission as a Lutheran congregation. … It is my hope that we can maintain some type of cooperative relationship with these congregations if they become a part of a different denomination.”

The synod is made up of 151 congregations located roughly in the southern two-thirds of Illinois. Freiheit said that as of July 30:

– First Lutheran and St. John Lutheran in Dongola, which share a pastor, have taken two votes and are no longer part of the ELCA. Dongola is south of Carbondale and along Interstate 57.

– Eight congregations have taken first votes with four adopted and four failed. Besides the Rantoul, Flatville and Royal congregations, the fourth that took its first vote to leave is St. Peter in Emden, which is north of Lincoln on Interstate 155.

Nationally, as of June 30, among 10,400 ELCA congregations, 462 have taken first votes to leave the ELCA with 312 adopted while 150 failed; and 196 have taken a second vote, with 185 adopted and 11 failed.

Before the 1988 ELCA merger, Greene of Rantoul remembered:

“Twenty-seven years ago, when I was in the seminary, (Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in Berkeley, Calif.), there were two mutually exclusive theologies going on in the ELCA. … The ELCA was formed to be what it is. Three gay guys I went to school with had this as their agenda. … I was banished to Illinois. It’s a very strange day. I feel more affinity with the Catholics and some Baptists.”

The Rev. James Lehmann, pastor in Flatville, said two major points of contention are “the authority of Scripture” and “way to salvation.”

“The new idea is that there are several ways to achieve salvation, but Scripture says there is no other way than Jesus,” he said. “I think it’s unfortunate that we had to take the vote (to leave), but to be true to our faith, we need to do that.”

“The church has turned upside down,” said the Rev. Jay Johnson, pastor in Royal. “These German farmers say, ‘Don’t they read the Bible (when they talk about ELCA decisions)?'”

Johnson, who has 18 years experience in Lutheran mission work outside the country (in Bangladesh, South Africa and South America), said overseas Lutherans are asking: “What’s the ELCA doing?”

The Rantoul, Flatville and Royal congregations that have voted to leave the ELCA are affiliated not only by denomination, but by history and family connections. They were started by Western German immigrant farmers.

Three other area churches with similar histories – Prince of Peace Lutheran in St. Joseph; Zion Lutheran, Philo; and First Lutheran, Paxton – probably will be the next to take separation votes.

– In St. Joseph, the Rev. Seth Jersild said, “All indications are that we will vote to initiate separation from the ELCA. We probably will affiliate with the (new) North American Lutheran Church. We’ll send a letter to the congregation and vote (on ELCA separation) the middle to end of September.”

– In Philo, the Rev. Richard Tomlinson said there was concern among his congregation members about nontraditional stances taken by the ELCA. He said his members probably would take their first vote in early fall.

– In Paxton, First Lutheran is taking a survey of members about what to do. Its pastor, the Rev. Jeff Cottingham, predicts a “major shakeup” in the ELCA but says he sees no need to rush to a separation vote.

When some 160 area pastors and congregants gathered in Flatville to talk with Bishop Freiheit in mid-June, Cottingham stood up to say, “I feel like my church died Aug. 21, 2009.”

That is the day that the national conference – called Churchwide Assembly of the ELCA – adopted two major resolutions. One acknowledged that church members disagree on same-gender relationships and recognize different “bound conscience” beliefs. The other allowed congregations to call, but does not require them to call, a homosexual pastor in a committed same-sex relationship.

Since the national vote, pastors and members of ELCA churches and their members – from Iroquois, Ford, Livingston, McLean and Champaign counties – have met almost monthly.

The first meeting, last September, attracted about 650 people from 14 congregations.

At first, discussion was about the national votes. But after a downstate Illinois synod meeting in Springfield in May, pastors and parishioners had more concerns to discuss.

Some delegates to the synod meeting tried to pre-sent resolutions against the national votes. Their efforts were defeated. But their major complaint was how they were disrespected for their views.

At the June meeting with the bishop, the Rev. Ron Rasmus – a semi-retired pastor who has recently served churches in Gibson City and Royal – said he asked the May assembly if there was a place for conservative people and ideas in the denomination but heard “boos” and “If you don’t like it, get out.”

Lehmann of Flatville said at the meeting, “We’ve been black-balled by my alma mater (Wartburg Theological Seminary in Dubuque, Iowa) and cannot be an internship congregation. Our last intern (in 2003) was warned, ‘He’s orthodox.’ As politics of the church have changed and become charged, it feared I was going to pollute.”

All six area churches with the historical, German ties plan to send representatives to a meeting of the Coalition for Renewal in Ohio next week. The session is expected to form the new, NALC denomination that Jersild of St. Joseph mentioned.

In larger area cities, ELCA Lutherans are either embracing or ignoring progressive changes in the denomination.

“In my congregation, 10 to 15 percent are thrilled with the (national) resolution, 10 to 15 percent are lividly angry, 60 to 80 percent are neutral. I’m going to emphasize unity,” said the Rev. Donna Hacker Smith, pastor of Good Shepherd in Champaign.

Blocks away, at Grace Lutheran, the pastor, the Rev. Roger Digges, said, “Our congregation is not planning to hold a vote. … A family or two has decided to leave because of the national church.”

The Rev. Robert Rasmus in Urbana said, “There’s no spirit for leaving (the ELCA) at St. Matthew. … A couple of families have left for a variety of reasons.”

In Danville, the Rev. Ed Stone, pastor of Bethel Lutheran, said he’s “certain” his church will remain in the ELCA.

“We have no intention of spending inordinate amounts of time on issues that are destructive to that ministry,” Stone said. “There has been some measured and decent discussion about the issue and that’s where we’ve left it – at that.”

On the University of Illinois campus, the Rev. Elaine Olson – pastor of St. Andrew’s and director of Lutheran Campus Center – said, “It’s kind of a nonissue with us. Our congregation voted several years ago to be a Reconciling in Christ Congregation.

“That means we’re a welcoming congregation with radical hospitality, where we give full inclusion to LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) persons and try to create an open place for all classes and orientations.”

The Rev. Ray Bowers at Lutheran Church of Mahomet did not return repeated requests for comment.

About Norm Fisher

Norm was raised in the UCC in Connecticut, and like many fell away from the church after high school. With this background he saw it primarily as a service organization. On the miracle of his first child he came back to the church. On moving to Texas a few years later he found a home in Lutheranism when he was invited to a confessional church a half-hour away by our new neighbors.

He is one of those people who found a like mind in computers while in Middle School and has been programming ever since. He's responsible for many websites, including the Book of Concord, LCMSsermons.com, and several other sites.

He has served the church in various positions, including financial secretary, sunday school teacher, elder, PTF board member, and choir member.

More of his work can be found at KNFA.net.

Comments

A year after denomination accepted gay clergy, some local Lutheran churches appear to be leaving — 35 Comments

  1. Lehmann of Flatville said at the meeting, “We’ve been black-balled by my alma mater (Wartburg Theological Seminary in Dubuque, Iowa) and cannot be an internship congregation. Our last intern (in 2003) was warned, ‘He’s orthodox.’ As politics of the church have changed and become charged, it feared I was going to pollute.”

    Wow! Lord, have mercy.

  2. Questions and observations:

    1. Isn’t CORE okay with female ordination? Please correct me if I am wrong on this.

    2. Is CORE in fellowship with LWF?

    3. The process to withdraw from ELCA is certainly drawn out. I got a kick out of, “…no sales pitch from the bishop.” I’m sure no propoganda will be given to the congregations (and I’ll sell you some swamp land).

    4. What is the “breaking point” to withdraw fellowship? Why wasn’t female ordination the “final straw?” The same could be asked of us in the LCMS. Should “open Communion” or ecumenism have been our “final straw?”

    5. The courage of these congregations is admirable, although I wonder if this is an “out of the frying pan and into the fire” type of deal.

    6. My understanding is that ELCA Corp. owns some of the church properties (whether ALC churches, LCA churches, or whomever, I don’t know). I wonder how this will play into the withdrawals.

    I know, lots of questions…

  3. @boogie #2 I understand that CORE is ok with Women’s ordination, so fellowship between CORE and the LCMS isn’t going to be happening.

    I think it’s good, though, to applaud these churches who are making a pretty bold and difficult step in the right direction. We also need to pray for them, as they may face many difficulties in leaving the ELCA. Some may also lose their physical buildings. We can also pray that as members of CORE return to an in-depth study of Scripture and the Confessions, their minds may be changed on the issue of ordaining women.

    My own pastor has said that more of the ALC churches, when they were subsumed in the ELCA, had constitutions written such that they may have an easier time retaining their buildings. In the area this article covers, most of the ELCA churches are in fact former American Lutheran Church congregations.

    Interesting times, to be sure. I pray the Paxton church, which I have been inside of, can retain their building should they vote to leave; they have the most astonishingly beautiful 10-foot tall oil painting of Christ as their reredos.

  4. While these churches are to be applauded for leaving at this time, because they are joining those who still see nothing wrong with females holding an office that Christ has stated belongs only to males–I see that within ten years they will be right back where they are today!

  5. @Rev. Roger Sterle #4

    This could very well be, but I hope not. It could be that these ELCA congregations are just going down the Road of Unfaithfulness more slowly than their sister ELCA congregations. Or it could be (and such is my prayer), that this is the first step toward increased faithfulness toward the Word. Unhindered from pressured from within their church body, perhaps, they will begin to examine their doctrine and practice in the light of Scripture and find themselves becoming increasingly faithful.

  6. “I was happy that these churches that have acquaintances and friends of mine in them are leaving the ELCA…”

    Free at last, Free at last…!

    “…but then I read the list of churches that are not intending leaving, and you realize it isn’t as widespread as we would hope.”

    Pray to the Lord of the church, that these will not be lost. Kyrie Eleison + Christe Eleison + Kyrie Eleison +

  7. @Matthew Gunia #5
    Matthew,

    One can certainly pray that this will happen. I do not know of a single group which has allowed females into the pastoral office who have gone back and said no at a later date.

  8. The ordination of women and its godfather (or godmother), the authority of scripture, are the sticking points for most ELCA congregations that are thinking about leaving. What that means for the LCMS ought to be obvious.

    j

  9. I don’t think that LCMC and CORE are going to end up in the same place as the ELCA. But they are theologically adrift without an anchor. So they’ll drift into a different set of heresies. But the root problem, the failure to recognize the authority of Scripture is the same. What the article doesn’t speak to is the additional numbers of individuals voting with their feet. In 2009 the ELCA lost 90k members. My guess is that they’re going to lose at least twice that in 2010. Their income might be up for the moment, but not for long. These are catastrophic loses.

  10. @Matthew Gunia #8
    Matthew,

    You are correct, only now some southern Baptist churches outside the South are now allowing females to preach and teach and call them Sister! A good friend who is a Southern Baptist pastor told me this about four years ago and those who do allow, while maintaining the name Southern Baptist are not recognized by the larger body–kind of like some of the factions in the LCMS [but they are still recognized by the larger body].

  11. Yes, that is most certainly true, of female “preachers”. I live in a small town in South East WI, and a Baptist church “deposed” the male pastor, for a female one. The GARBC & the SBC, are loosly knit congresses. Each Baptist church, is autonomous, to itself, to a great extent. It is why WordFaith & Purpose Driven & Prosperity, has taken such a hold there. Because of autonomy, the is a great amount of wiggle room. To varing degrees.
    Spurgeon type Baptists, are rather rare these days.

  12. Both LCMC and Core (which is about to form the North American Lutheran Church) have female pastors in their steering committees/advisory boards and LCMC has female’s listed on their clergy roster.

    I am happy to see them leave the ELCA but this is needs to be the start of a process of study and repentance. The LCMS has a role to play here as a teacher and advisory and a resource, but it needs to be clear that we do not approve of much of what appears will be accepted in these new bodies. I think we need to look back at our history and look to how the LCMS first interacted with the WELS. That needs to be the model. Dialog, teaching, prayer and admonishment.

  13. I think in the long run the congregations that are voting to leave the ELCA over the issue of openly gay clergy will find themselves fighting the same sort of battle again (albiet a different but similarily cultural issue) if they do not eschew the theology that got them to that point in the first place. That is a much more difficult prospect than turning your back on 22 years of fellowship-which is no easy matter on the face of it. I recall when the ELCA joined in altar and pulpit fellowship with the Episcopal church, the main complaint was not any of the obvious doctrinal differences, but apostolic succession. ELCA pastors were worried they’d be considered second class citizens after this agreement. Similarly the problem of openly gay clergy is a huge issue to be sure, yet still a symptom of the flawed form criticism of Bultmann, (among others).

  14. “In my congregation, 10 to 15 percent are thrilled with the (national) resolution, 10 to 15 percent are lividly angry, 60 to 80 percent are neutral. I’m going to emphasize unity,” said the Rev. Donna Hacker Smith, pastor of Good Shepherd in Champaign….

    Sounds hauntingly familiar to me… no reference to Truth as the ground of unity, just unity as it’s own objective.

  15. @Rev. Roger Sterle #7

    The now sainted Rev. Walter Rowaldt, who left the ELCA (and most of his retirement $) many years ago over the issue of women’s ordination for the LCMS, served in Germany for many years. He told of several ordained women there, that when shown from Scripture why women’s ordination was wrong, repented and renounced their ordination vows. He also said that by and large, it was the female clergy that were more confessional and more open to actually studying the Scriptures on difficult topics. Go figure!

  16. HI Norm,
    I had misread the article. I thought it had said income was up despite loses. Thanks for the correction.

  17. Rev. Clint K. Poppe :@Rev. Roger Sterle #7
    … it was the female clergy that were more confessional and more open to actually studying the Scriptures on difficult topics. Go figure!

    An interesting observation. Although also annecdotal, I’ve read several “crossing the Tiber” autobiographical sketches, that are penned by previouly ordained women in liberal church bodies (the ELCA specifically) who found repentence, confession, absolution, and peace in the bosom of Rome. They were almost universally conflicted by the inherent practical imbalance of female clergy in light of both the Scriptures and authentic catholic tradition… eventually finding their rest outside Lutheran communions altogether.

  18. “new occasions teach new duties, time makes ancient good uncouth.” So wrote Jas. Russell Lowell 1819-1891) Scriptures have been utilized by reactionaries to seek to promote or deny slavery,
    women’s full participation, hair styles, jewelry, round earth,food restrictions,miscegnation,right of kings, and many more matters now seen as totally dated and irrelevant.
    What lasts is “let justice flow like a stream, and righteousness like a river that never goes dry. Micah 5:24)
    Three cheers for the ELCA that has sought to do just that!

  19. “…previously ordained women in liberal church bodies (the ELCA specifically) who found repentance, confession, absolution, and peace in the bosom of Rome. They were almost universally conflicted by the inherent practical imbalance of female clergy in light of both the Scriptures and authentic catholic tradition… eventually finding their rest outside Lutheran communions altogether…”

    Yep. With Richard J. Neuhaus leading the charge and Chuck Colson cheering along the sidelines. I often wonder if some of these people realize that when embracing the magistrate of Rome like that they are also (by default) embracing all of the anathemas of the (1547) Council of Trent. The Vatican likes to use a lot of double-speak when they have to address ecumenical issues publicly, but when you sift through all of that you find that nothing has really changed at all – not that some evangelicals seem to be able to the sifting very effectively.

  20. @sig arnesen #21

    sig arnesen :
    What lasts is “let justice flow like a stream, and righteousness like a river that never goes dry. Micah 5:24)
    Three cheers for the ELCA that has sought to do just that!

    Um, no thanks. Justice would send me to hell. I would rather have forgiveness, if you don’t mind. Praise God for the LCMS which is one of the few denominations where forgiveness through Christ in the Means of Grace is still the central message.

  21. @Matthew Gunia #5

    While it is true that the 2000 revision of the Baptist Faith and Message (don’t call it a creed or you’ll upset the SBC folk!) does explicitly state the pastoral office is limited to men, it would be a mistake to say that the SBC allowed women to be ordained and then voted to no longer do so.

    The SBC is actually so decentralized that any church can ordain whoever they want, and the SBC really doesn’t have any authority to do anything about it. There are no educational requirements, no certification by the seminaries, etc. So, yes … churches in the SBC did start to ordain women years ago, but it still happens today despite the 2000 BF&MN. I would guess it probably happens less now than it did in the mid-eighties, though … but probably not significantly … and I have no hard numbers to back that up, and I’m not even sure that it would be possible to compile any authoritative numbers on the subject.

    I do think that I heard about a Lutheran body, perhaps in the Ukraine, that voted to stop ordaining women in the last ten years or so. It seems like the agreement they reached was that women already ordained could continue to serve at the parish they were at, but they could not take a call elsewhere, and no more women would be ordained.

    Jeremy Clifton
    (former SBC seminary student)

  22. @Jeremy Clifton #24

    “I do think that I heard about a Lutheran body, perhaps in the Ukraine, that voted to stop ordaining women in the last ten years or so. It seems like the agreement they reached was that women already ordained could continue to serve at the parish they were at, but they could not take a call elsewhere, and no more women would be ordained.”

    That church was the Latvian Lutheran Church. LCMS entered fellowship with them in 2001, and they had at the time, three women pastors. They no longer ordain women, but these women are still serving to the best of my knowledge.

    Johannes

  23. @Joe #26

    I remember that distinctly, I was still at the Sem at the time and we had a student from Latvia who was able to give us the whole story. Their Bishop showed considerable courage and faith when he declared a moratorium on the ordination of women. This ruffled the feathers of the LWF and they cut off funding at a time when the Latvian church was rebuilding. I still remember how our Latvian classmate purchased box upon box of books for his church’s seminary from our used book sales.

  24. @George in Wheaton #22

    My experience with the ELCA, is that from within, they have almost no perception of viable Lutheran Christianity in America outside their own boundaries. It’s almost as if they understand the theory of other Lutherans, but they can’t countenance any other Lutheran expression as reasonable or viable (if they were out there, they would have joined up with them, don’t ya know…) which I think also contributes to the general inability of their congregations to leave the denomination en masse. I do perceive, however, that their slow leak of members is increasing, leaving them with a more radicalized concentration, which will in turn spur greater losses of anything like Christian people from their ranks. Where they go is anyone’s guess.

    It took me quite a while, wrestling my way through the landscape of the micro synods, to eventually find in the LCMS a viable rallying point for confessional Lutheran Christianity in our time. The self-delusion is strong inside the ELCA proper, and once the facade shatters for an honest soul within her, the casting about for stability and rescue can be frantic… something of a long, dark night of the soul. I don’t judge too harshly on the ELCA desserters to Rome… had we done a better of job presenting authentic confessional Lutheran Christianity in our communion, perhaps the ELCA would not have gained so much steam heading in wrong directions, and perhaps Rome’s offer of peace with surrender would not seem so palatable to them.

  25. @Rev. Roger Sterle #4
    Precisely, Pr. Sterle. Last summer’s vote was inevitable, given women’s ord. in the ELCA and predecessor bodies. They’d already said gender is meaningless, God’s created order is meaningless, and who knows exactly how we became male and female, anyway? (I.e., they’d hook line and sinker swallowed Evolution long ago.) So sexual orientation is *certainly* irrelevant.

    To embrace homosexuality is to attempt to declare ourselves “gods” over yet one more aspect of Creation. It is Gen. 3 worked out even further–the “unmaking” of ourselves as Man in the image of the True God, because we want to *be* “God” and we want to murder the One that is.

  26. Oh, and once again, thanks be to God that we elected Matt Harrison. This time, specifically, because we *also* gave the SP the authority to declare A+P fellowship (with some relatively minor restrictions) *on his own*, with “small, formative, or emerging confessional Lutheran churches.” *This* needs to be rescinded three years from now.

    It *may* work out, ironically, well–since Harrison is a true theologian. *But* someday, it could come back and bite us.

    And this was passed *in the context of* the first 3 FC 3 resolutions dealing with this whole topic and the splits from the ELCA. If Jerry + Co. had remained in power, we might well have found ourselves in “fellowship” with one or more split groups that are certainly better than the ELCA, but still not orthodox, still not truly in doctrinal agreement with us.

  27. @St. Bruder Klaus #28
    Quite right. I’ve had to explain to more than a few people that the likelyhood of an exodus from ELCA to LCMS is unlikely, in as much as the average ELCA member views Missouri and Wisconsin Synods at best as rivals, and often as adversaries; and the smaller Synods like the CLC are virtually invisible. Worse than that, often people who are disillusioned with their church don’t ‘go’ anywhere, they give up and stay home.

  28. Well, I thought that”Love your neighbor as yourself” took a pretty high place on the theological pecking order and was not the “road to hell” as Andrew suggests. Jesus made loving neighbor a very direct litmus test of how we should conduct ourselves in God’s world.not deny women the right to proclaim the Word or castigate gays for who they are.or any of the many of the other adiaphoral issues @andrew #23

  29. sig arnesen :
    Well, I thought that”Love your neighbor as yourself” took a pretty high place on the theological pecking order and was not the “road to hell” as Andrew suggests. Jesus made loving neighbor a very direct litmus test of how we should conduct ourselves in God’s world.not deny women the right to proclaim the Word or castigate gays for who they are.or any of the many of the other adiaphoral issues @andrew #23

    I said justice is the road to hell. God’s justice proclaims us all sinners deserving of condemnation.

    And homosexuality is hardly an adiaphoral issue for me. As I have posted on this blog before, I am homosexual.

    But God’s Word says that homosexual intercourse is wrong. I have looked at all the pro-gay interpretation of the relevant Scripture passages and, frankly, they violate just about every rule of scriptural interpretation and common sense.

    Therefore, a person who truly loves me will tell me that homosexual sex is a sin, call me to repentance should I happen to fall, offer me the forgiveness of Christ and give me their fellowship. And, for the record, I have never met a single LCMS pastor who did not do these things for me in a very loving and forgiving manner. I have been very pleased with all the LCMS pastors to whom I have confessed and with whom I have spoken.

    A person who does not do this does not love me.

  30. Concerning Norm Fisher’s comment in #1, that the exodus of ELCA members and congregations “it isn’t as widespread as we would hope,” may I suggest a reason? After the worldwide Anglican Community ratified the Episcopal Church USA’s decision to elevate Gene Robinson as NH bishop, the majority of Anglicans across the globe left Canterbury. It seems that the ones who left (for scriptural reasons, they say) were from the “Third World,” from former British colonies where the Anglican Church was established. They have since formed Global South Anglican, and they now represent the majority of the planet’s Anglicans. In other words, those who accept homosexuality as a biblically permissible practice are a minority. That kind of mass exodus from ELCA is not as likely to occur. Until the Robinson fiasco, except for the rare and miniscule independent Anglican church, Anglicanism had largely been a single entity. In contrast to the Anglican movement, in this country there have always been multiple Lutheran bodies. Many of those who departed for doctrinal grounds did so already. The ones leaving now see homosexuality as the straw that broke the camel’s back. I’m afraid they are leaving for pietistic, social reasons. The ground for their departure from ELCA in most cases is probably not theological. The indicator that their decision is based on non-theological grounds is the decision of most to avoid joining LCMS, WELS or ELS. As Rev. Jody Walter pointed out above, the problem is Sola Scriptura. They are keenly aware that we believe the Bible is inspired, inerrant and infallible and they don’t.

    Just a brief sidebar comment on Rev. Roger Sterle’s statement that the Office of Holy Ministry (OHM) “belongs only to males.” Most certainly he’s right, but “belongs” is in the sense of chains belong on slaves. The only ones who see the OHM in terms of power, right, privilege and honor do not understand what it means to be a pastor. It is a burden and a responsibility that Christ refused to place on the backs of women. Most women are already slaves to their families. The title for that unsung office is “Mom.” OHM is slavery for men, being local parent to God’s children.

  31. @sig arnesen #21

    It’s unfortunate that you would use the old “round earth” chestnut, and then paint those who oppose women’s ordination on Biblical grounds as “reactionaries.” Later, the “love your neighbor” argument. Does the loving neighbor ignore his/her neighbor’s risky behavior and life style out of love, or does she/he tell him about it? Where is the biblical injunction against abortion? Should we celebrate the ELCA for condoning abortion in the administration of its health insurance? Now that the ELCA is in fellowship with so many non-orthodox church bodies, should we love their members by not identifying the false teachings? Or is that not loving? Ad hominem attacks (‘reactionaries”) and red herrings (“round earth”) and reducing all contrary opinions as against the “law of love” are, at best disingenuous.

    But–Andrew #33, has eloquently responded.

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