Author Topic: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation  (Read 90905 times)

Christopher Miller

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Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation
« on: December 02, 2011, 10:29:59 AM »
http://www.leadertelegram.com/news/front_page/article_2cf92ca2-1bdf-11e1-bf30-001cc4c002e0.html

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Nearly 70 members of Grace Lutheran Church, including a former pastor and former council presidents, are asking an Eau Claire County judge to intervene in a dispute over church affiliation.

The group ó through a civil suit filed this week in Eau Claire County Court ó is asking a judge to declare that the longtime Eau Claire church remains solely affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and must be governed in a manner consistent with the church's constitution and the governing documents of the ELCA.

The Grace Lutheran Church council voted last April to also join the more conservative Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ after a vote to disaffiliate with the ELCA failed.

James S. Rustad

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Re: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation
« Reply #1 on: December 02, 2011, 01:56:26 PM »
How long has it been since those worshiping at Amazing Grace contributed or communed at Grace?  If it's been a year or more, they'd be candidates for removal from membership at my congregation (constitution and bylaws clearly define this as the standard).

George Erdner

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Re: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation
« Reply #2 on: December 02, 2011, 02:55:21 PM »
How long has it been since those worshiping at Amazing Grace contributed or communed at Grace?  If it's been a year or more, they'd be candidates for removal from membership at my congregation (constitution and bylaws clearly define this as the standard).

My guess would be that as long as they're opening up the entire church & state can of worms in the first place, adding an inability to worship (and contribute to the offering plate) would be among the list of grievances the plaintiffs would want to add to their laundry list of complaints.
 

Coach-Rev

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Re: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation
« Reply #3 on: December 02, 2011, 08:53:58 PM »
How long has it been since those worshiping at Amazing Grace contributed or communed at Grace?  If it's been a year or more, they'd be candidates for removal from membership at my congregation (constitution and bylaws clearly define this as the standard).

My wife and I probably have a better track record than the "estranged members" as we worshiped there back in August whilst on vacation, communing AND contributing.

And whatever happened to Paul's admonition against lawsuits? 

Having read the article, how exactly is this going to foster unity within this congregation?
« Last Edit: December 02, 2011, 08:57:15 PM by Coach-Rev »

Charles_Austin

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Re: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation
« Reply #4 on: December 03, 2011, 06:06:22 AM »
The issue in any such congregational suit may not be "the unity of the ELCA," but legal, proper, and churchly responsibility for church property, the rights of the members who did not vote to leave the ELCA and fairness.
Someone far upstream proposed this sneaky and unethical and divisive "tactic" for congregations whose vote to leave the ELCA failed. "Just join another church body, and let the ELCA throw you out." It may be that the valid members of a congregation would rise up and oppose that, going to civil court if other methods fail.
But as usual, we do not know all the necessary details in this present case.

Coach-Rev

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Re: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation
« Reply #5 on: December 03, 2011, 09:55:41 AM »
Not going to tackle the Apostle Paul's admonition against lawsuits amongst Christians, eh Charles?  Go read 1 Corinthians 6:1-8.  I'll save you the trouble, and I'll post it here:

If any of you has a dispute with another, dare he take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the saints? 2 Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? 3 Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life! 4 Therefore, if you have disputes about such matters, appoint as judges even men of little account in the church! 5 I say this to shame you. Is it possible that there is nobody among you wise enough to judge a dispute between believers? 6 But instead, one brother goes to law against another--and this in front of unbelievers!
7 The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated? 8 Instead, you yourselves cheat and do wrong, and you do this to your brothers.


considering that they have been worshiping in a "SAW" or whatever its being called, for quite some time now, what would be the point of further destroying any unity, implied or real, going forward?  How does this help the overall body of Christ?

Dan Fienen

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Re: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation
« Reply #6 on: December 03, 2011, 10:01:23 AM »
Who in such a dispute would be trusted to mediate in a fair and open manner?  Perhaps better would be to ask who would the various parties trust to mediate?  The ELCA Bishop could well be considered a party to the dispute.  Representatives from LCMC or even NALC would represent the interests of those groups and members of the congregation inclined toward those groups.

Dan
Pr. Daniel Fienen
LCMS

Charles_Austin

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Re: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation
« Reply #7 on: December 03, 2011, 10:30:58 AM »
Can we step back from the hogwash, the hokum and the crocodile tears? There is no "unity" at stake here. 
Of ELCA members, 99.95 percent will never hear of this lawsuit. And a good number of the .05 percent who might - repeat, might - hear of it will probably agree with the plaintiffs.
As for the reputation of "the Church" at large, get real. The church's reputation is in more danger from financial scandals, sexual misconduct (and not only among Roman Catholics), partisan politics, and an inability to get the Gospel message clear than it is from one tiny lawsuit in one tiny congregation.
And FWIW, Paul's admonition about not going to court had partially to do with plunging Christians into what Paul thought was the wrong kind of involvement with pagans and emperor worship.
The biblically scrupulous LCMS just took a lawsuit all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, so they must have found a way around what might appear to be Paul's admonition.

Don Whitbeck

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Re: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation
« Reply #8 on: December 03, 2011, 11:07:16 AM »
Not going to tackle the Apostle Paul's admonition against lawsuits amongst Christians, eh Charles?  Go read 1 Corinthians 6:1-8.  I'll save you the trouble, and I'll post it here:

If any of you has a dispute with another, dare he take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the saints? 2 Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? 3 Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life! 4 Therefore, if you have disputes about such matters, appoint as judges even men of little account in the church! 5 I say this to shame you. Is it possible that there is nobody among you wise enough to judge a dispute between believers? 6 But instead, one brother goes to law against another--and this in front of unbelievers!
7 The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated? 8 Instead, you yourselves cheat and do wrong, and you do this to your brothers.


considering that they have been worshiping in a "SAW" or whatever its being called, for quite some time now, what would be the point of further destroying any unity, implied or real, going forward?  How does this help the overall body of Christ?

If I remember correctly the LCMS has taken some congregations to court, one of which was dismissed in CA, after the LCMS dropped the lawsuit.

I don't know about the other one, if it's still going on or not. 

However, it seems that the LCMS does use the courts when it feels the need to.

The Voice of God will NEVER Contradict the Word of God

Don Whitbeck

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Re: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation
« Reply #9 on: December 03, 2011, 11:13:47 AM »
Can we step back from the hogwash, the hokum and the crocodile tears? There is no "unity" at stake here. 
Of ELCA members, 99.95 percent will never hear of this lawsuit. And a good number of the .05 percent who might - repeat, might - hear of it will probably agree with the plaintiffs.
As for the reputation of "the Church" at large, get real. The church's reputation is in more danger from financial scandals, sexual misconduct (and not only among Roman Catholics), partisan politics, and an inability to get the Gospel message clear than it is from one tiny lawsuit in one tiny congregation.
And FWIW, Paul's admonition about not going to court had partially to do with plunging Christians into what Paul thought was the wrong kind of involvement with pagans and emperor worship.
The biblically scrupulous LCMS just took a lawsuit all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, so they must have found a way around what might appear to be Paul's admonition.

The PC-USA has also used the court system to its advantage and disavantage, over church property rights.

Other church orgainzations have also.  So this is nothing new within the court system or the Christian Church.

Just another issue in Scripture that is ignored or subject to mans interpretation, or total disregard of it.
« Last Edit: December 25, 2011, 11:31:20 PM by Confessional Lutheran »
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Coach-Rev

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Re: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation
« Reply #10 on: December 03, 2011, 11:14:20 AM »
Charles, get a clue.  I'm talking about the critical damage that has happened to this congregation in particular, and for that matter, ANY congregation upon taking any such action, including the congregation I currently serve.  It is a highly flammable situation and can cause varying degrees of disunity and disruption.  Now I'm not going to debate the action itself, as I feel we are all compelled to take a stand for the Gospel, and that even includes you, Charles.  I will at least give you credit for your passionate stance, even though you are always wrong.  A compliment?  Yes.  Backhanded?  Also I suppose.  And believe me, there are no crocodile tears here. 

Whatever happened to all the official rhetoric (which by the way, had to come from on high/Higgins road, since it was repeated verbatim at at least 5 different assemblies that I know of), namely that its time to put the past behind and move ahead with the business of the church?  It sounds as though both the congregation (both from the reporting and from my own conversations with Rev. Nestingen) and those upset by the division had done just that.  And now they want to rehash the whole thing yet again?   We see that its just more empty rhetoric from a denomination that values control over the Gospel - control of the congregations and clergy by those in power.

And based on your response, I'll let my admonition with Paul's words stand - lawsuits today generally do get involved with pagans, as we are a pagan society.

Timotheus Verinus

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Re: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation
« Reply #11 on: December 03, 2011, 12:37:45 PM »
Meanwhile from the thread on the LCMS church going to ELCA we read in the news story -

"Their separation from the LCMS is amicable, and since the congregation holds title to its property, no rancorous lawsuits will result. ... "

By their fruits you shall know them .... disappointment, concern for faithfulness, even disagreement, certainly, but what then is the last word on separation, what does the prodigal's father do? Two different spirits at work here I think.

TV
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George Erdner

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Re: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation
« Reply #12 on: December 03, 2011, 02:59:34 PM »
Who in such a dispute would be trusted to mediate in a fair and open manner?  Perhaps better would be to ask who would the various parties trust to mediate?  The ELCA Bishop could well be considered a party to the dispute.  Representatives from LCMC or even NALC would represent the interests of those groups and members of the congregation inclined toward those groups.

Dan

They could always assemble a panel of leaders from full-communion partner churches. They could ask someone from the local PCUSA, TEC, UCC, UMC and other full-communion partner churches to provide people for an impartial panel.
 
I'm not suggesting that would be a good idea, but it might be the kind of off-the-wall thing the ELCA might consider.

Evangel

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Re: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation
« Reply #13 on: December 03, 2011, 04:08:09 PM »
As far as I can tell from a distance, there is no issue of property rights at play in this case.  The congregation is still an ELCA congregation.  They have merely chosen to affiliate with LCMC ... something the LCMC constitution allows and something that the ELCA constitution does not expressly prohibit.  In fact it has been tacitly interpreted as allowing such dual affiliations for years under the clause 9.31 in the ELCA constitution:

9.30. RESERVATION OF AUTHORITY
9.31. Congregations of this church shall have authority in all matters that are not assigned by the constitution and bylaws of this church to synods and the churchwide organization.


See the LCMC list of congregations that are still affiliated with the ELCA as a for-instance. There is also a quote from The Lutheran going back to the very early days of the ELCA quoting the PB at that time (I don't have it in front of me at the moment) saying that the ELCA had no problem with dual rostered congregations ... at that time ELCA/LCMS which preexisted the formation of the ELCA. 

What will evidently be litigated here is Sec. Swartling's ruling almost 2 years back that the constitution precludes dual affiliation.
Mark Schimmel, Pastor
Zion Lutheran Church, LCMC
Priddy, TX
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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."

George Erdner

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Re: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation
« Reply #14 on: December 03, 2011, 04:39:57 PM »
See the LCMC list of congregations that are still affiliated with the ELCA as a for-instance.

Here are the ones I have listed on the database. This doesn't include dual-rostered congregations that never went through a change affiliations vote.
 
Our Saviour's Lutheran Church, Cathlamet, WA, ELCA/LCMC
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Ceresco, NE, ELCA/LCMC
Christ Lutheran Church, Chino, CA, ELCA/LCMC
Zion Lutheran Church, Clearville, PA, ELCA/LCMC
Grace Lutheran Church, Eau Claire, WI, ELCA/LCMC
St John Lutheran Church, Elkhorn, WI, ELCA/LCMC
Iglesia Evangelica Luterana San Pedro, Miami, FL, ELCA/NALC
St Johnís Evangelical Lutheran Church of Nekimi, Oshkosh, WI, ELCA/NALC
Hope Lutheran Church, Sioux Falls, SD, ELCA/NALC
Abiding Savior Lutheran Church, Winter Haven, FL, ELCA/NALC
Faith Lutheran Church, Conover, NC, NALC/ELCA
Philadelphia Lutheran Church, Granite Falls, NC, NALC/ELCA