Author Topic: ELCA Considering New Procedures for Congregations Considering Leaving the ELCA  (Read 31717 times)

Evangel

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 780
  • Rev. Mark Schimmel
    • View Profile
Pastor Hahn writes:
This is to dictate to this other Lutheran body that the congregation has NOT joined with it despite fulfilling all of the conditions that other Lutheran body spells out for doing so.

I respond:
O.k., grey area and lousy wording. But (perhaps in a more charitable mood than some others here  ;D ), I read the reference to voting having to do with leaving the ELCA and joining another Lutheran church body, that is, the vote to do both must be 2/3rds, that vote being required to satisfy the "leaving the ELCA" part of the equation, rather than saying there must be a 2/3rds vote in order for the "joining of another Lutheran body" part of the process to be actuated.

To Steven:
Yes, your recollection of what was in The Lutheran 19 years ago was better than the memory of this humble correspondent. And I was the one who sought out the accurate information and posted it here, knowing full well that it might damage my reputation for being right all the time. But hey, that's the king of guy I am.  ;D ;D

That may be the intent - and it complies with the ruling in January from Sec. Swartling stating that a congregation may not belong to two denominations (a highly contentious ruling at that which has been rather roundly ignored).  LCMC doesn't even require a majority vote of a congregational meeting to apply for membership - a passed resolution from a church council is sufficient to do the deed.
Mark Schimmel, Pastor
Zion Lutheran Church, LCMC
Priddy, TX
--
ACXXIII, "Your majesty will graciously take into account the fact that, in these last times of which the Scriptures prophesy, the world is growing worse and men are becoming weaker and more infirm."

Marshall_Hahn

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 1433
    • View Profile
Pastor Hahn writes:
This is to dictate to this other Lutheran body that the congregation has NOT joined with it despite fulfilling all of the conditions that other Lutheran body spells out for doing so.

I respond:
O.k., grey area and lousy wording. But (perhaps in a more charitable mood than some others here  ;D ), I read the reference to voting having to do with leaving the ELCA and joining another Lutheran church body, that is, the vote to do both must be 2/3rds, that vote being required to satisfy the "leaving the ELCA" part of the equation, rather than saying there must be a 2/3rds vote in order for the "joining of another Lutheran body" part of the process to be actuated.

Except that a congregation cannot do both in a single vote.  The procedures outlined specifically state that the vote to leave the ELCA shall be a separate vote from the vote to join another Lutheran body.  They may be done at the same meeting, but they must be two separate votes.  Even though I strive to be as charitable as you, the procedures for leaving the ELCA do not allow for the reading you suggest.  

Marshall Hahn

Coach-Rev

  • Guest
Re: ELCA Considering New Procedures for Congregations Considering Leaving the EL
« Reply #122 on: November 30, 2010, 03:08:38 PM »
actually, in most cases, you cannot take a vote to leave AND a vote to join another body in the same meeting.  Our constitution (as most, if not all specify) that the meeting must be called to consider that question and that question only.  However, nothing is stopping a congregation from adjourning one meeting and then immediately reconvening another to consider the second half of the question.

IF we are to go "by the book" (aka the almighty constitution)


Marshall_Hahn

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 1433
    • View Profile

That may be the intent - and it complies with the ruling in January from Sec. Swartling stating that a congregation may not belong to two denominations (a highly contentious ruling at that which has been rather roundly ignored).  LCMC doesn't even require a majority vote of a congregational meeting to apply for membership - a passed resolution from a church council is sufficient to do the deed.

Except that this proposal does not have in view the case of "dual rostering" of any kind.  The statement says that if the 2/3 vote to join another body is not acheived it will be "'conclusively presumed' to have become an independent Lutheran congregation."  In other words, the situation in view here is of a congregation that has already taken the two votes necessary to leave the ELCA - otherwise it would not be "presumed" to be an independent Lutheran congregation.  At that point, it seems to me, the only proper way for the ELCA to determine if a congregation has joined another Lutheran body is to inquire of that body if the congregation has indeed been received within its fellowship.  The method by which such reception takes place is between the congregation and the Lutheran body it wishes to join.  What possible say does the ELCA have at that point in whether the congregation has joined or not?

Marshall Hahn

Marshall_Hahn

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 1433
    • View Profile
Re: ELCA Considering New Procedures for Congregations Considering Leaving the EL
« Reply #124 on: November 30, 2010, 03:24:30 PM »
actually, in most cases, you cannot take a vote to leave AND a vote to join another body in the same meeting.  Our constitution (as most, if not all specify) that the meeting must be called to consider that question and that question only.  However, nothing is stopping a congregation from adjourning one meeting and then immediately reconvening another to consider the second half of the question.

IF we are to go "by the book" (aka the almighty constitution)



I have heard of congregations taking both votes at the same meeting.  Perhaps by "same meeting" they meant "on the same day" and had adjourned one meeting to call another - or perhaps their constitution does not contain the precise wording to which you refer - or perhaps they did not go "by the book." 

Marshall Hahn

James_Gale

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 4082
    • View Profile
O.k., grey area and lousy wording. But (perhaps in a more charitable mood than some others here  ;D ), I read the reference to voting having to do with leaving the ELCA and joining another Lutheran church body, that is, the vote to do both must be 2/3rds, that vote being required to satisfy the "leaving the ELCA" part of the equation, rather than saying there must be a 2/3rds vote in order for the "joining of another Lutheran body" part of the process to be actuated.

I don't think that the language creates any gray areas.  

The new language would not, as you suggest, require that in order to leave the ELCA, a congregation must by a 2/3-majority vote to join another Lutheran body.  On the contrary, a congregation can depart without taking any votes on whether to join another church body, Lutheran or otherwise.  

This is entirely about property ownership.  The proposed language creates a new, potentially high hurdle that congregations must clear in order to ensure that they can keep their property upon leaving the ELCA.  If congregations do not clear this hurdle, ownership of the congregation's property would be decided by the synod council.

If this new provision is enacted, congregations likely will protect themselves from the threat of the "conclusive presumption" by including in a single resolution (i) a provision terminating the ELCA relationship and (ii) a provision creating a relationship with another Lutheran body.  The whole resolution would require a 2/3-majority for passage.  By linking the two provisions, some congregations may be less likely to vote to leave the ELCA, which may have been the point.  It's hard to imagine why else the church council would propose creation of an onerous "conclusive presumption" rather than simply looking at the facts of each case to determine if fact whether a congregation joined another Lutheran body.

Of course, the new provision won't be binding on a congregation unless the congregation adds it to its congregational constitution.  Secretary Swartling might argue otherwise.  But it's an argument that he'd almost certainly lose in court.  Thus, the best protection for congregations is to refuse to add these provisions to their constitutions.

James_Gale

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 4082
    • View Profile
Re: ELCA Considering New Procedures for Congregations Considering Leaving the EL
« Reply #126 on: November 30, 2010, 03:34:22 PM »
actually, in most cases, you cannot take a vote to leave AND a vote to join another body in the same meeting.  Our constitution (as most, if not all specify) that the meeting must be called to consider that question and that question only.  However, nothing is stopping a congregation from adjourning one meeting and then immediately reconvening another to consider the second half of the question.

IF we are to go "by the book" (aka the almighty constitution)

I think that you're misreading the model constitution.  At a special meeting, a congregation can conduct only business that matches the "purpose" identified in the meeting notice.  However, "purpose" is not nearly as narrow a term as you suggest.  The "purpose" given in the notice might be to consider "(i) a resolution to terminate the relationship with the ELCA; (ii) a resolution to join Lutheran church body X; and (iii) any other business related to church-body affiliation."

James_Gale

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 4082
    • View Profile
Pastor Hahn writes:
This is to dictate to this other Lutheran body that the congregation has NOT joined with it despite fulfilling all of the conditions that other Lutheran body spells out for doing so.

I respond:
O.k., grey area and lousy wording. But (perhaps in a more charitable mood than some others here  ;D ), I read the reference to voting having to do with leaving the ELCA and joining another Lutheran church body, that is, the vote to do both must be 2/3rds, that vote being required to satisfy the "leaving the ELCA" part of the equation, rather than saying there must be a 2/3rds vote in order for the "joining of another Lutheran body" part of the process to be actuated.

Except that a congregation cannot do both in a single vote.  The procedures outlined specifically state that the vote to leave the ELCA shall be a separate vote from the vote to join another Lutheran body.  They may be done at the same meeting, but they must be two separate votes.  Even though I strive to be as charitable as you, the procedures for leaving the ELCA do not allow for the reading you suggest.  

Marshall Hahn

Why can't the two matters be included in a single resolution?  I see nothing in the current or proposed language that would prevent this. 

jrubyaz

  • Guest
Re: ELCA Considering New Procedures for Congregations Considering Leaving the EL
« Reply #128 on: November 30, 2010, 03:48:12 PM »

We are the only congregation that has voted to leave the ELCA to date that has not voted to join another body, that I am aware of.
 

Mr. Gale is correct. This was done to create more barriers to churches leaving. Very foolish, as none of it is legally binding.

However, as a broadside meant to keep congregations in line, it might have that effect, on a few.

J. Ruby   

actually, in most cases, you cannot take a vote to leave AND a vote to join another body in the same meeting.  Our constitution (as most, if not all specify) that the meeting must be called to consider that question and that question only.  However, nothing is stopping a congregation from adjourning one meeting and then immediately reconvening another to consider the second half of the question.

IF we are to go "by the book" (aka the almighty constitution)



I have heard of congregations taking both votes at the same meeting.  Perhaps by "same meeting" they meant "on the same day" and had adjourned one meeting to call another - or perhaps their constitution does not contain the precise wording to which you refer - or perhaps they did not go "by the book." 

Marshall Hahn

James_Gale

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 4082
    • View Profile
Incidentally, as others have mentioned, the drafting of the new language is less than artful.  The provisions dealing with the affiliations of congregations that have left the ELCA are illustrative.

Section 9.62(e) provides as follows:  "Unless this notification to the bishop also certifies that the congregation has voted by a two-thirds vote to affiliate with another Lutheran denomination, the congregation will be conclusively presumed to be an independent or non-Lutheran church."  The only reason to create such a presumption relates to the provision in section 9.71 regarding property ownership.  There is no other provision in any governing document that turns on whether a departing congregation has joined another Lutheran body.

But interestingly, new proposed language for section 9.71(e) -- the provision dealing with property ownership -- does not turn on any presumptions.  Quite the contrary:  "Title to the property of a congregation that has acted to terminate its relationship with this church by the provisions of 9.62. and has acted by a two-thirds vote to become independent or to relate to a non-Lutheran church body shall continue to reside in the congregation only with the consent of the Synod Council."  The express language of this provision gives the synod council authority over a congregation's property only if it has voted by a 2/3-majority to become independent or to join a non-Lutheran body.

So what does the church council intend?  To create a "conclusive presumption" that would give the synod council authority over property in an expanded number of cases?  Or to reduce the number of cases subject to synod council action by including only those that have chosen by a 2/3-majority to do something other than join a Lutheran body?  Hmmmm.

On top of all this, the current version of the model constitution for congregations seems to assume that every congregation that has voted to leave the ELCA has voted by a 2/3-majority either to "transfer to another Lutheran church body"  (section C7.03) or "to become independent or relate to a non-Lutheran church body" (section C7.04).  Obviously, a congregation leaving the ELCA might do none of these things.

What a mess!

Steven Tibbetts

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 10213
  • Big tents are for circuses.
    • View Profile
Re: ELCA Considering New Procedures for Congregations Considering Leaving the EL
« Reply #130 on: November 30, 2010, 05:24:37 PM »
actually, in most cases, you cannot take a vote to leave AND a vote to join another body in the same meeting.  Our constitution (as most, if not all specify) that the meeting must be called to consider that question and that question only.

Sorry, bro, but that is simply impossible under the terms in which an LCA/formed-in-ELCA continues to own its property (Chapter 7 of the Model Congregation Constitution, a "required section), where determining which Lutheran church body the congregation subsequently joins is a necessary part of the process to keep the property.

And if our Bishop or someone in his office has told you otherwise, please tell me -- for our Conference's Colloquy with him is two weeks from today and I will gladly question him about this.

Fraternally, Zip+
The Rev. Steven Paul Tibbetts, STS
Pastor Zip's Blog

Steven Tibbetts

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 10213
  • Big tents are for circuses.
    • View Profile
Re: ELCA Considering New Procedures for Congregations Considering Leaving the EL
« Reply #131 on: November 30, 2010, 05:30:20 PM »

We are the only congregation that has voted to leave the ELCA to date that has not voted to join another body, that I am aware of.

I think La Casa de Cristo is the only former LCA congregation that has left the ELCA and been able to keep its property without joining another Lutheran church body.

Pax, Steven+
The Rev. Steven Paul Tibbetts, STS
Pastor Zip's Blog

Glenn Ryder

  • Guest
So if a congregation is contemplating 'leaving' the ELCA then it should seriously consider doing so before the churchwide next August! Get while the getting's good as it were.


Glenn

ptmccain

  • Guest
It would be interesting to know that the ELCA leadership team determined would be acceptable losses as they pressed the homosexual through in the ELCA.

dkeener

  • Guest
Pastor Hahn writes:
This is to dictate to this other Lutheran body that the congregation has NOT joined with it despite fulfilling all of the conditions that other Lutheran body spells out for doing so.

I respond:
O.k., grey area and lousy wording. But (perhaps in a more charitable mood than some others here  ;D ), I read the reference to voting having to do with leaving the ELCA and joining another Lutheran church body, that is, the vote to do both must be 2/3rds, that vote being required to satisfy the "leaving the ELCA" part of the equation, rather than saying there must be a 2/3rds vote in order for the "joining of another Lutheran body" part of the process to be actuated.

Except that a congregation cannot do both in a single vote.  The procedures outlined specifically state that the vote to leave the ELCA shall be a separate vote from the vote to join another Lutheran body.  They may be done at the same meeting, but they must be two separate votes.  Even though I strive to be as charitable as you, the procedures for leaving the ELCA do not allow for the reading you suggest.  

Marshall Hahn

Why can't the two matters be included in a single resolution?  I see nothing in the current or proposed language that would prevent this. 

It can. Our first vote had one resolution with three resolves. One to terminate our relationship with the ELCA. One to begin the process of discernment and exploration of other Lutheran Church bodies and one to hold the ELCA in prayer. The second vote, seven months later had one resolution with two resolves. One to terminate our relationship with the ELCA and the other to join the NALC.