Author Topic: Forum Letter: What is the big deal if a congregation leaves?  (Read 13918 times)

Charles_Austin

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Re: Forum Letter: What is the big deal if a congregation leaves?
« Reply #75 on: March 23, 2011, 09:25:23 AM »
Keith Falk writes:
What word should be used to describe a group which is open to, but may not have present, all other Lutheran groups?

I muse:
Depends. Among some LCMSers the word would be "unionistic"
For most of us it would be just "Lutheran"
Then there is the "open to" or "actually taking part" discrepancy.

George Erdner

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Re: Forum Letter: What is the big deal if a congregation leaves?
« Reply #76 on: March 23, 2011, 09:47:49 AM »
Isn't it something how the use of a single word could cause such a response......can you imagine if the word was say "is" .....thankfully, we've cleared that one up  ::) ::)
BTW, its snowing on Long Island.... :'( :'(
the PiT

It only causes such a response because some certain individual chose to make a big deal out of such petty things. There is no intrinsic reason why such a minor, petty misuse of a word should cause such a response. It's not an automatic response that is certain to be the result. It takes someone starting the snowball rolling down the hill and others jumping on the bandwagon.

As such, it's an ideal metaphor or illustration for the issue of it being a big deal if a congregation leaves one denomination for another. There's no reason why it must be cause for wailing, moaning, and gnashing of teeth. But as long as a few leaders choose to always over-dwell on the negatives and never acknowledge the positives of that situation, it will be a "big deal" blown far out of all reasonable proportion.

FrPeters

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Re: Forum Letter: What is the big deal if a congregation leaves?
« Reply #77 on: March 23, 2011, 06:51:27 PM »
I am still waiting for a review of this question of changing synods more in terms of a change of jurisdiction and I hope Brother Boris may shed some light on how that might happen within the various Orthodox jurisdictions here in America.... Bro. Boris are you listening?
Fr Larry Peters
Grace LCMS, Clarksville, TN
http://www.pastoralmeanderings.blogspot.com/

Pr. Terry Culler

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Re: Forum Letter: What is the big deal if a congregation leaves?
« Reply #78 on: March 23, 2011, 09:28:56 PM »
Fr. Peters, I think the difference between moving from the ELCA to the NALC or the LCMS or the AFLC or any combination you want to make is probably more than between the Orthodox Church in America and the Antiochian Orthodox Church.  Whatever differences might be between the Orthodox Churches, they are pretty much one in doctrine.  We are not--at least not in the same way.  So movement between one Lutheran body and another can very well involve significant doctrinal change.  I've noticed that in some of the people who have left the ELCA and joined our fellowship.  They knew little of true conservative Lutheran theology when they arrived and are finding new insights as they move through this transition.  Similarities in our liturgies can mask significant differences in what we teach.
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BrotherBoris

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Re: Forum Letter: What is the big deal if a congregation leaves?
« Reply #79 on: March 23, 2011, 10:00:55 PM »
I am still waiting for a review of this question of changing synods more in terms of a change of jurisdiction and I hope Brother Boris may shed some light on how that might happen within the various Orthodox jurisdictions here in America.... Bro. Boris are you listening?

Yes, I am listening.


What, specifically, is your question?  Is it how can an Orthodox parish change from one jurisdiction to another? I'll attempt an answer of sorts.

If an Orthodox LAYMAN wants to change his jurisdiction, its quite simple. He starts attending a parish of another canonical Orthodox jurisdiction and registers there and becoming a supporting member. He informs his former parish that he has moved. That's it. He doesn't have to have his former priest's or bishop's "permission" either. He can do this completely on his own.

Now if a whole PARISH wants to change from one jurisdiction to another, that can be a bit messier, esp. if politics and personalities are involved. For instance, if a parish got mad at its bishop and wanted to join another jurisdiction, technically, the people could leave, but the church building would stay with the bishop because we are a hierarchical church. If the priest found a bishop of another canonical jurisdiction that he wanted to serve under, technically he COULD leave, but he would have to get a "canonical release" from his current bishop before he could do that. If his current bishop would not release him, then he's stuck.  He would have to remain where he is.  If he decided to leave anyway, he would be disposed (removed from the ranks of clergy) by his bishop.

There have been cases where the priest and his congregation all wanted to leave one jurisdiction and join another one, and the bishop COULD (in such an instance) allow the parish to keep the property and its priest and release them over to another jurisdiction.  However, that is exceedingly rare. If a parish splits and part of the people want to go over to another jurisdiction, the portion of people that are loyal to the original bishop are going to get the property, no matter how small a group that is. 


I hope that answers your question.


vicarbob

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Re: Forum Letter: What is the big deal if a congregation leaves?
« Reply #80 on: March 24, 2011, 09:25:50 PM »
Isn't it something how the use of a single word could cause such a response......can you imagine if the word was say "is" .....thankfully, we've cleared that one up  ::) ::)BTW, its snowing on Long Island.... :'( :'(the PiT
It only causes such a response because some certain individual chose to make a big deal out of such petty things. There is no intrinsic reason why such a minor, petty misuse of a word should cause such a response. It's not an automatic response that is certain to be the result. It takes someone starting the snowball rolling down the hill and others jumping on the bandwagon.
As such, it's an ideal metaphor or illustration for the issue of it being a big deal if a congregation leaves one denomination for another. There's no reason why it must be cause for wailing, moaning, and gnashing of teeth. But as long as a few leaders choose to always over-dwell on the negatives and never acknowledge the positives of that situation, it will be a "big deal" blown far out of all reasonable proportion.

You are correct george, and sometimes I am amazed as to just what some of us find worth commenting upon, what sparks interest or not. Just the other day I submitted a topic...no responses..it involved the sale of church properties. maybe we tire of somethings or like to re-hash others. I just don't know. Then again, perhaps it was not worthy of a response and just read.
pax
Bob

George Erdner

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Re: Forum Letter: What is the big deal if a congregation leaves?
« Reply #81 on: March 24, 2011, 09:55:53 PM »
Isn't it something how the use of a single word could cause such a response......can you imagine if the word was say "is" .....thankfully, we've cleared that one up  ::) ::)BTW, its snowing on Long Island.... :'( :'(the PiT
It only causes such a response because some certain individual chose to make a big deal out of such petty things. There is no intrinsic reason why such a minor, petty misuse of a word should cause such a response. It's not an automatic response that is certain to be the result. It takes someone starting the snowball rolling down the hill and others jumping on the bandwagon.
As such, it's an ideal metaphor or illustration for the issue of it being a big deal if a congregation leaves one denomination for another. There's no reason why it must be cause for wailing, moaning, and gnashing of teeth. But as long as a few leaders choose to always over-dwell on the negatives and never acknowledge the positives of that situation, it will be a "big deal" blown far out of all reasonable proportion.

You are correct george, and sometimes I am amazed as to just what some of us find worth commenting upon, what sparks interest or not. Just the other day I submitted a topic...no responses..it involved the sale of church properties. maybe we tire of somethings or like to re-hash others. I just don't know. Then again, perhaps it was not worthy of a response and just read.
pax
Bob


I remember that post of yours about church properties. I couldn't make heads or tails of it.

FrPeters

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Re: Forum Letter: What is the big deal if a congregation leaves?
« Reply #82 on: March 25, 2011, 08:19:26 AM »
Yes, Brother Boris, this helped to answer my question.

My concern here was one both of property and priestly call as well as doctrine.  I was not aware that a priest of one jurisdiction could serve a parish of another through canonical license.  That was new to me and perhaps applies to some of the situations of the ELCA where Pastor and people may actually be of different jurisdictions.

In terms of the property, I see that there is neither automatic nor hard and fast rule about who keeps the building when changing jurisdictions.  Since the ELCA is thinking of treating parishes that leave differently from parishes that join other congregations, I was wondering if there might be a way for a Lutheran body to see this as a jurisdictional shift and treat the property more amicably.  However, since all Lutherans are more congregational when it comes to property ownership, I find it very interesting that the ELCA is trying to treat the issue of property as a concern of the national body.  Unless it is a subsidized mission or one that only recently left subsidy, the truth is that the ELCA congregation has probably returned far more in benevolence than the church body has invested in its start or building and so I was wondering why the national office would be so concerned about property if a majority (even simple majority) voted to leave.

Thank you.
Fr Larry Peters
Grace LCMS, Clarksville, TN
http://www.pastoralmeanderings.blogspot.com/

Charles_Austin

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Re: Forum Letter: What is the big deal if a congregation leaves?
« Reply #83 on: March 25, 2011, 08:31:40 AM »
Pastor Peters writes:
I was wondering why the national office would be so concerned about property if a majority (even simple majority) voted to leave.
I comment:
It is not the "national office," but the synod that may - in many cases - have the responsibility to preserve the property of a congregation that either becomes inoperative or whose people leave for another church body. And the reason, as I have said many times, may be a legal fiduciary responsibility drawn from the constitutions of the congregation and the synod.
Situations may vary, depending upon the predecessor church body.
But in many cases, it may actually be illegal for a synod council to just blithely say to a departing congregation "Go. And here's a half-million dollars of church property to take with you." No. The synod may have a legal responsibility to retain that property.
We have explained this many times. Some don't like it, but it is the truth.

Team Hesse

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Re: Forum Letter: What is the big deal if a congregation leaves?
« Reply #84 on: March 25, 2011, 09:36:49 AM »
Pastor Peters writes:
I was wondering why the national office would be so concerned about property if a majority (even simple majority) voted to leave.
I comment:
It is not the "national office," but the synod that may - in many cases - have the responsibility to preserve the property of a congregation that either becomes inoperative or whose people leave for another church body. And the reason, as I have said many times, may be a legal fiduciary responsibility drawn from the constitutions of the congregation and the synod.
Situations may vary, depending upon the predecessor church body.
But in many cases, it may actually be illegal for a synod council to just blithely say to a departing congregation "Go. And here's a half-million dollars of church property to take with you." No. The synod may have a legal responsibility to retain that property.
We have explained this many times. Some don't like it, but it is the truth.

Such odd thinking --that "Church" is something other than people gathered by the Holy Spirit for Word and Sacrament. Makes me grateful that we don't have a building. It is amazing how clear that becomes when one has to do without.

Lou

Charles_Austin

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Re: Forum Letter: What is the big deal if a congregation leaves?
« Reply #85 on: March 25, 2011, 09:40:57 AM »
Yes, Lou, at times and in this flawed temporal kingdom, sometimes "church" is indeed more than the people gathered. You are smart enough to know that and agile enough to find a way to live with that truth. If your plan is to never have a building or property, then go with it.

Team Hesse

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Re: Forum Letter: What is the big deal if a congregation leaves?
« Reply #86 on: March 25, 2011, 09:50:33 AM »
Yes, Lou, at times and in this flawed temporal kingdom, sometimes "church" is indeed more than the people gathered. You are smart enough to know that and agile enough to find a way to live with that truth. If your plan is to never have a building or property, then go with it.

Is this gospel or law according to Charles, or do you have scriptural or confessional citation to support your assertion? I simply do not see a place for a servant-oriented expression of the church to deny local property to a local expression of the church. As for me, hopefully I go with what the Lord provides and let go of what He takes.
A man has to know when to let go.

Lou

Charles_Austin

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Re: Forum Letter: What is the big deal if a congregation leaves?
« Reply #87 on: March 25, 2011, 09:56:40 AM »
It is law, Lou, not the law of God, but the law of the temporal kingdom under which we must live until God decides otherwise.
You may choose to be a part of or form a congregation that owes no contractual, civil or secular allegiance to laws, contracts or constitutions, but if you choose to be a part of a congregation that does - and most ELCA congregations are that - then certain considerations apply.
You can ordain yourself, form a church, even call it "Lutheran," but if you want to be a part of another civil entity, certain considerations apply.
You have rejected those considerations as they pertain to the ELCA. Some of us have not, even though at times we wish they were not there.

Team Hesse

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Re: Forum Letter: What is the big deal if a congregation leaves?
« Reply #88 on: March 25, 2011, 10:04:27 AM »
It is law, Lou, not the law of God, but the law of the temporal kingdom under which we must live until God decides otherwise.
You may choose to be a part of or form a congregation that owes no contractual, civil or secular allegiance to laws, contracts or constitutions, but if you choose to be a part of a congregation that does - and most ELCA congregations are that - then certain considerations apply.
You can ordain yourself, form a church, even call it "Lutheran," but if you want to be a part of another civil entity, certain considerations apply.
You have rejected those considerations as they pertain to the ELCA. Some of us have not, even though at times we wish they were not there.


A man has to know when to let go...

Lou

Dadoo

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Re: Forum Letter: What is the big deal if a congregation leaves?
« Reply #89 on: March 25, 2011, 10:05:31 AM »
Pastor Peters writes:
I was wondering why the national office would be so concerned about property if a majority (even simple majority) voted to leave.
I comment:
It is not the "national office," but the synod that may - in many cases - have the responsibility to preserve the property of a congregation that either becomes inoperative or whose people leave for another church body. And the reason, as I have said many times, may be a legal fiduciary responsibility drawn from the constitutions of the congregation and the synod.
Situations may vary, depending upon the predecessor church body.
But in many cases, it may actually be illegal for a synod council to just blithely say to a departing congregation "Go. And here's a half-million dollars of church property to take with you." No. The synod may have a legal responsibility to retain that property.
We have explained this many times. Some don't like it, but it is the truth.

Where in the constitution do you read that the synod has "fiduciary" responsibilities in this matter? If there is a loan yet to be paid off then there is a contract that the synod council is likely to review and enforce. Even if the synod developed the congregation recently and the congregation is now on its own feet financially, unless there is a contract that gives the synod rights to reclaim funds expended for development, there is no fiduciary responsibility, unless we consider preventing the loss of future mission support dollars lost due to the departure a matter of exercising fiduciary responsibility here. If that is the operative thinking, then it is sad thinking and I hope, if true, you will not repeat it as you say you have been doing.

It would seem from the constitution that the matter at hand really is protecting the confession of faith. A congregation can leave the ELCA as long as it leaves as a Lutheran congregation towards a church body that shares the confession of faith that defines the ELCA in Chp. 2. The provision to have the council give leave to departing congregations which we inherited from the LCA was and is an exercise of spiritual care, not financial responsibility to the synods/ ELCA's busyness. What I see as a sad development is that the sense of spiritual care that led to some benevolent structure in olden days has been morphed in the years into the ways of secular corporations. No wonder that our headquarter looks out over the other glass fronted headquarters of multinational corporations at Higgins Road. We have, in some ways, become them. It would be better if we learned to live in a tent again, as Lou notes.
« Last Edit: March 25, 2011, 10:21:13 AM by Dadoo »
Peter Kruse

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