Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Impact of denominational revision on one lay leader and his congregation

By email:

"...I have been spending the past few days talking to a number of people within my current congregation along with others in the spiritual sister communities of the local Methodist church and the LCMS church. There are a number of families in my church that have pushed the church council to call for an informal meeting after church this Sunday to discuss the events of last week along with having an open discussion on the overall feeling of the church membership and setting a direction for the future of the currently ELCA church in my community. We have already decided that if the local church members choose to become Lutheran 'ostriches' and just bury their head in the sand and hope this all 'goes away', that we will be all pulling out of the church, who for some of us has been our only church home for our entire lives, and forming a house church until there is a time we can hopefully align ourselves with another church that holds our same spiritual beliefs or we create a whole new church altogether as more people withdraw from the ELCA.

I have also chosen to resign from my positions I currently hold on the ELCA Synod Board and the Synod Compensation Committee due to the dramatic affect the decisions of the ELCA has made on not only myself, but on my immediate and extended family members (as you can read in the attached letter of resignation I submitted yesterday to the Synod Bishop)."

Here's the letter:

I would like to personally thank both of you [Pastor and Bishop] for your guidance and direction in these past few years that I served as President of XXXX Church in XXXX and the many trials and tribulations we have faced and overcome during that time. I also have appreciated your guidance during my time serving on the Engaging Leaders Board of the Synod and on the Synod Compensation Committee. I really enjoyed my involvement on this Board and my time spent working with the others on the board and committee, along with the retreats I attended and the time spent in worship together. I hold you both in very high esteem and regard for the spiritual guidance you have provided me in our time spent together.

It is with a very heavy heart that I have to tell you the following statements, however.

I watched a number of the plenary sessions via live video-cast of the recent ELCA Churchwide Assembly in Minneapolis and my sadness grew and my heart grew heavy as I watched events that unfolded on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. I knew that the day was coming that the core beliefs of the ELCA were going to be shaken by actions taken by representatives of the ELCA membership, however in my own small-town traditional German Lutheran ways was hoping it never would come. I am deeply saddened by the actions taken by the voting representatives on the Social Statement and the latter vote on the Policies resolution. The actions taken at the assembly goes against everything I have been taught by the ELCA growing up and now tells me that my core beliefs no longer apply. It saddens me even more in knowing that the actions of the ELCA will fracture the core membership within and also widen, and possibly sever, the associations built or that were hoped to be built with the Roman Catholic Church and with the LCMS. Both have publicly denounced the ELCA actions, and the LCMS leader spoke directly to that during a presentation to the ELCA at the assembly on Saturday. Even more saddening to me is seeing my father, who is a 3rd generation family member of our home church become completely disenfranchised with the ELCA and contemplates leaving the church and my grandmother, who has been a member of the same church for 90 years, deeply upset about the actions of the ELCA and leaves her wondering how she can be a member of a church that holds these new beliefs.

Because of the tremendous impact the actions of the 2009 Assembly has had not only on my family, my church and my personal spiritual beliefs, I have no choice but to regretfully resign my position on the Engaging Leaders Board and on the Synod Compensation Committee immediately. This is not a decision that was made easily, as I have prayed about this continuously since last Friday and am in tears as I write this to you.

Please understand that this is in no way a reflection on both of you or even on the XXXX Synod itself, however I cannot in good conscience serve on any boards of a greater church that no longer holds the core teachings of the bible as central to their belief and direction to its membership.

I pray for you and the rest of the XXXX Synod leaders as you will face many challenges in the days ahead.

God’s Peace be with you.

No comments: