Author Topic: ELCA Considering New Procedures for Congregations Considering Leaving the ELCA  (Read 29826 times)

Brian Stoffregen

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 42667
  • ἐγὼ δὲ λέγω ὑμῖν, ἀγαπᾶτε τοὺς ἐχθροὺς ὑμῶν
    • View Profile
It is not fair to blame the people who are committed enough (or have a particular agenda) so that they will attend synod and churchwide assemblies as voting members. I have told people directly who complain about what the voting members did to make themselves available to be a voting member at the next CWA.  I don't know of anyone who has taken up that challenge. If "traditionalists" are not willing to use the process we have in place, they shouldn't blame those who do use it.
I cannot believe the fool I have been. Here for all these years, I thought the church (in the sense of the ELCA) was guided by people who were attempting to interpret God's will for us, and now it comes out that the real guidance the agenda of people who are motivated enough to have the ELCA pay their way to the CWA.

C'mon, Brian, surely you didn't mean it to come out that way-that a certain group of people is "using" the process to get their way. Or perhaps you did?

That is my response to those who believe that the "revisionists" were able to use the process to get their way. If that is true, then the "traditionalists" had exactly the same opportunities.

I believe that the folks at our churchwide and synod assemblies and even congregational meetings are guided by the Holy Spirit. I believe that the prayers that are offered before every major vote is answered by God. I believe that it is God's will that the ELCA is taking the steps it is taking at this time in our history.
"The church … had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

Papster

  • Guest

That is my response to those who believe that the "revisionists" were able to use the process to get their way. If that is true, then the "traditionalists" had exactly the same opportunities.


As one who has been a "traditionalist" all my life I can say although the opportunity was there, I never got the opportunity because I was not in the liberalist-revisionist camp. It was that side that got the actual opportunity. Some "traditionalists" got the opportunity but not many, even though an almost super-majority of the whole church is "traditionalist" in orientation.

My wife once had the opportunity to serve on the Justice and Social Change Committee of the NE Penn Synod of the LCA. She was the only "traditionalist" on the committee. The synod staff laison to the committee was an admitted Marxist. When my wife attended a NARAL meeting in Philadelphia with another committee member to ascertain whether or not the Synod should support NARAL, when her pro-life reservations were revealed she was asked, "What are you doing on this committee?" One pastor on the committee was so disqusted with her that he walked out of the room. All she did was report the facts of what NARAL was all about, and that it appeared that it would be inappropriate for the synod to support it. Fortunately the committee voted not to support NARAL with a synod grant.

How many notable "traditionalists" with outstanding credentials like Carl Braaten, Robert Bene, James Nestigen, are on a "do-not-call" list to speak at synod assemblies and other ELCA events? Where is the same opportunity?     

Charles_Austin

  • Guest
The ones you mention - Dr. Braaten and Dr. Jenson, have had distinguished careers in the ELCA, teaching at its seminaries. Dr. Benne is not on the ELCA roster, but is a layman who has been on church committees.

And, Pastor Orovitz, it seems that your wife was probably treated unfairly in her work, and that is too bad.

Revbert

  • Guest
FWIW, as the secretary of one of those "oblivion"-destined church bodies (established 1967, by the way), i will say that the ELCA does recognize our existence, even if we are not seen as a "threat" (and, God forbid ANY church sees another as a "threat"). In fact, I get somewhat regular communication from the folks on Higgins Alley asking for denominational statistics, as well as what we're doing in mission and such.

YMMV

Coach-Rev

  • Guest
Re: ELCA Considering New Procedures for Congregations Considering Leaving the EL
« Reply #274 on: December 03, 2010, 08:28:38 AM »
At the point that any of us “holes up” in the parish we lose something essential to our understanding of Church, ministry, and mission.

SPS


And sadly, that is exactly what continues now in the ELCA.  To have my own bishop tell me that there is no blacklist, that the call process is fair and equitable, and then (in response to a question of how another pastor filed papers 2 months after me and has already accepted a new call within our synod) to hear that he would be "reluctant to place me in a parish somewhere that I might someday in the future lead them out of the ELCA" has done just that to me:  exiled me into the confines of the parish I currently serve.

And for those here who apparently (according to Brian) don't understand "subtle nuances," let me summarize:  There is no blacklist in the ELCA.  And I'm on it.

And lest Charles decide to respond again, let me remind him that I stay anonymous on this forum, and his usual practice is to not respond to anonymous posters. 

I must say that I was hoping for something better in the discussions here than I currently get at synod assemblies and gatherings.  I'm saddened that it is more of the same, with the divide amongst ELCA leaders as sharp and pronounced as ever.

Coach-Rev

  • Guest
Re: ELCA Considering New Procedures for Congregations Considering Leaving the EL
« Reply #275 on: December 03, 2010, 08:31:33 AM »
The ones you mention - Dr. Braaten and Dr. Jenson, have had distinguished careers in the ELCA, teaching at its seminaries. Dr. Benne is not on the ELCA roster, but is a layman who has been on church committees.

And, Pastor Orovitz, it seems that your wife was probably treated unfairly in her work, and that is too bad.

And yet Dr. Braaten, along with ALL the others listed earlier, are openly critical of the ELCA's direction, and it has had no influence.  Once again, Charles, you completely sidestep the issue and keep missing the mark.

Remember, I'm anonymous, so stick to your guns and don't reply to an anonymous poster.

jramnes

  • Guest
It is not fair to blame the people who are committed enough (or have a particular agenda) so that they will attend synod and churchwide assemblies as voting members. I have told people directly who complain about what the voting members did to make themselves available to be a voting member at the next CWA.  I don't know of anyone who has taken up that challenge. If "traditionalists" are not willing to use the process we have in place, they shouldn't blame those who do use it.
I cannot believe the fool I have been. Here for all these years, I thought the church (in the sense of the ELCA) was guided by people who were attempting to interpret God's will for us, and now it comes out that the real guidance the agenda of people who are motivated enough to have the ELCA pay their way to the CWA.

C'mon, Brian, surely you didn't mean it to come out that way-that a certain group of people is "using" the process to get their way. Or perhaps you did?

That is my response to those who believe that the "revisionists" were able to use the process to get their way. If that is true, then the "traditionalists" had exactly the same opportunities.

I believe that the folks at our churchwide and synod assemblies and even congregational meetings are guided by the Holy Spirit. I believe that the prayers that are offered before every major vote is answered by God. I believe that it is God's will that the ELCA is taking the steps it is taking at this time in our history.
I can't help but ask-in theory, then, if a large group of what you call "traditionalists" DID make themselves available to serve as delegates to CWA, and they reversed the 2009 CWA actions, that would be God's will too? And the literally hundreds of congregational meetings where members are voting by overwhelming margins to leave the ELCA are also expressing God's will? Is God trying to confuse us by the contradictory actions of various bodies?

There is a higher authority than voting. Every person at any of these assemblies is a sinner and more than capable of making a mistake when casting a vote. We don't want to admit it, but there is more than God's will at work here on earth when we imperfect people meet in assembly. I suppose it's hard to give up on the idea that we always reflect how God wants things to be, but any reasonable person who takes a look at the world can come to no other conclusion.

Charles_Austin

  • Guest
Questions to all:
1. If a pastor, by word and deed, seems to be so disaffected with the ELCA that he or she is likely to lead a congregation out of the ELCA, is it surprising that a bishop - whose job it is to protect the congregations and the people in them and to minister on behalf of the ELCA - might not consider that pastor for a call?

2. Is not Dr. Braaten an ELCA theologian, on our roster in good status, who has had a distinguished career in the ELCA? He has been retired for several years and might not be on the "A List" of many people, but is he not a man with a generally good reputation among us? I would gladly go and hear him speak. Now... the fact that some say he has "had no influence" or that his current views do not seem to prevail simply doesn't matter. The same is true of Dr. Nestingen (although I do not know for certain whether he is still in the ELCA.)

3. How many of us, over the past decades, believe we were "passed over" for a call that we thought should have been ours, or asked a bishop to put our name up before a congregation and were told that he thought we were not quite right for that place? Happened to me. Happened to most pastors I know. Anyone here?



Erma S. Wolf

  • Guest
There is absolutely no theological reason why there should not be a merger. The reasons for maintaining separate corporate structures is not theological, but is merely institutional self-preservation. The ELCA has already "merged," where it counts and genuinely matters, with the United Church of Christ. The rapidly dwindling membership numbers in the ELCA, the UCC, the ECUSA, and the PCUSA will lead, inevitably, to a physical/structural merger in the next ten to twenty years.

While those who wish to remain in the ELCA and "fight the good fight" are demonstrating admirable courage and care for their immediate flock, I believe the better pastoral decision is to lead the sheep to safe pastures where there can be more assurance of an orthodox Christianity, which the ELCA continues to distance itself from.

Twenty years out?  No one of us has a crystal ball, and I argue that it is impossible to predict what the denominational landscape will look like by that time.  But I also argue that you really don't understand how denominational mergers work, to so blithely predict such a huge change based on dwindling membership numbers alone.  And being Missouri Synod, there is no reason that you should understand that.  I'm not saying that is a shortcoming on your part; the LCMS has a strength that comes from its long history and scarcity of mergers in its structural life.  I am merely stating a fact.  (Now I won't be surprised if some cost-cutting measures are explored that would allow several of these denominations to share office space and bureaucratic work that minimizes some duplication; but it will not be a merger, no matter how it looks to you in the LCMS.)

And while I thank you for the compliment on courage (at least I take it as intended to be a compliment), your sage advice conveys, I believe, false comfort.  Safe pastures?  And where would that be?  In a Missouri Synod that is busy arguing whether women can serve as organists, since they lead the pastors in the singing of the liturgy; and in which pastors in the same winkle regularly excommunicate each other from the Sacrament of the Altar over the matter of laity reading a Scripture lesson in the Divine Service?  Do you really think such attention to doctrinal minutia will help you fortify the walls against the encroaching heresies ravaging the mainline denominations across the first world?  If you do think so, then I sincerely advise you to wake up and smell the incense.  There is no safe place, only places where the shepherds are ever alert and vigilent, and the sheep have been properly armed with the whole armour of God to withstand the storm that is yet to come.  

Attend to your own walls and watchtowers, Pastor.  And please stop advising me to abandon mine.

Erma Wolf, STS  

ptmccain

  • Guest
Erma,

Within the ELCA, it is my contention, based on careful reading and study and observation, and many ongoing private conversations with ELCA seminary students, that the seminary educational programs across that there is very little hope that the ELCA's clergy roster will be witnessing an ever increasing number of more orthodox Lutheran pastors. Just the opposite. And that is why I feel it is— and again this is only my  opinion—incumbent on the faithful pastors that remain to guard their flocks from false teaching and error.

And by false teaching and error I do not have in mind here relatively trivial matters, I'm talking about defending the most fundamental articles of the Christian faith, where they are given lip-service on paper, but in actuality there is grave doubt case on even the most basic truths of the Christian faith.

And, yes, I do regard the Missouri Synod as one of those greener and safer pastures. We have not institutionally embraced the apostate practice of ordaining actively homosexual men and women as clergy. We do not tolerate and tacitly endorse the murder of unborn children. We still, as an institution, give more than mere lip-service to the historic creeds of Christendom and the confessions of the Lutheran Church. We are in sync with the church catholic, historically and universally, in not ordaining women to the office of the ministry, a practice that brings with it a wholescale reconfiguration and redefinition of many truths of the Faith. The ELCA has compromised the Lutheran doctrine of the Lord's Supper and the doctrine of justification, by way of trading their Biblically Lutheran birthright for the pottage of modern ecumenism.

I would say that, from a human perspective, there is a much higher probability that the sheep will not be subjected to grave doctrinal error that can jeopardize their salvation. You are comparing apples to oranges, Erma, and I sincerely think that you know that, when you try to compare the grave heretical movements throughout the ELCA with a few oddball LCMS pastors here and there who do things, by way of practice, you may not like. If you in fact honestly think this is The LCMS, then you do not know us very well.

So, again, while I *do* admire the courage of those who want to "stay and fight," and particularly so in the case of pastors who honor the calls they have to their congregations, to guard and defend them, it remains my respectful opinion that ELCA clergy who are opposed to the grave errors within the ELCA should act to lead their flocks out and think beyond their own tenure as their congregations' pastors. There is little assurance that their flock will receive a faithful shepherd after they leave, again, from a human perspective, aware of what is being taught throughout ELCA seminaries and advocated by the ELCA leadership structure.

Further, I do not want, in any way, to make these comments and not make it very clear I understand the deep pain, anguish and torment so many are now going through in the ELCA as they take their stand and do what they feel they must do, in their own way, to oppose and resist the grave error that has overtaken the ELCA. I have heard directly from many and have listened to them as they, literally, weep over what is happening in their church body. I am not unsympathetic or unfeeling about the very real human emotional toll this is taking on people. I watch you, with tears, Erma, decline to join the NALC. I respect your heartfelt convictions and though I can not agree with you, I do not want you to think I do not both admire and appreciate your feelings in these matters!

I personally support and stand ready to help these moves in any way I possibly can. I am doing it right now at every opportunity I have and these opportunities are continually increasing. You may be surprised to know that the number of ELCA clergy who contact me privately has continued to increase from what was once a few contacts a months, to a few contacts every week. And what do I say to them? I never say, "Oh, come join The LCMS." Instead, I encourage them, I pray with them, I recommend resources they can use to teach the good solid truths of God's Word and I leave the "church political" issues to them, to figure out. If I am asked my opinion, I give it.

I do not expect many to come to The LCMS, that is not really my interest at all. I am passionate about the blood-bought souls of those who remain within the ELCA and are continually tempted to abandon the simple Faith they may have learned as children from the Small Catechism.

That's where I'm coming from.

« Last Edit: December 03, 2010, 10:27:44 AM by ptmccain »

David M. Frye, OblSB

  • ALPB Forum Regular
  • ****
  • Posts: 273
    • View Profile
    • WideSky.biz
Questions to all:
1. If a pastor, by word and deed, seems to be so disaffected with the ELCA that he or she is likely to lead a congregation out of the ELCA, is it surprising that a bishop - whose job it is to protect the congregations and the people in them and to minister on behalf of the ELCA - might not consider that pastor for a call?

It might be the "job" of a bishop to minister on behalf of the ELCA, but the precise question is whether ministry on behalf of the ELCA is aligned or misaligned with ministry to the Word of God in his Church. In other words, doesn't the call of any ordained person transcend allegiance to the denomination? Isn't part of "testing the spirits" to have a healthy skepticism regarding any human institutions?

Presuming that bishops understanding their calls in this way, one would assume that their opposition to congregations voting to leave would, in fact, be a judgment that those congregations were acting in ways misaligned to the ministry of the Word of God in his Church.
David M. Frye, OblSB

+ Ut in omnibus glorificetur Deus.
+ That God may be glorified in all things.

Charles_Austin

  • Guest
ptmccain writes (re the people allegedly flocking to his counsel):
I do not expect many to come to The LCMS, that is not really my interest at all.

I muse:
Perhaps this is a teensy teeny-weeny iota of the dimmest "hope" in that there appears to be an admission here that there is salvation outside the LCMS. But I'm probably getting this wrong.  ::)

Maryland Brian

  • Guest
Paul,

For the moment I'm staying and protecting.  There's not much fight left in me.  I think the word is distancing.  And I'm pretty sure we wouldn't have the votes to exit, probably a very strong majority, but not 2/3.  My leaving would turn this ministry over to someone else or it would mean leaving with all the key leaders and tithers.  Not sure either of those scenarios serves the Kingdom. The former runs the risk of abandoning them to a false shepherd, the later means rending the church just like is happening nationally.   So I carry the stress and hypertension that goes with all that and daily walk it out.

ptmccain

  • Guest
Brian, understood, brother.

I find quality trigger-time is very therapeutic for yours truly.

 :)


Maryland Brian

  • Guest
Brian, understood, brother.

I find quality trigger-time is very therapeutic for yours truly.

 :)



Not to put too fine a point on it, but when I show up I'm usually the best pistol shot on the range.  Next time you're in MD, let's punch some holes in paper.