Author Topic: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation  (Read 101421 times)

Team Hesse

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Re: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation
« Reply #120 on: December 29, 2011, 11:01:24 AM »
Something has been lost though.....

They are dying away now, but I cherish the old ALC Pastors wistfully speaking of the old days when they would attend an old ALC district convention for the collegiality and good spirit and decide who would be the national convention delegate by who among those who had not attended yet had an opening in his schedule and could go. Much less agenda aggrandizement, much less sectarian spirit. Altogether a much healthier way to be christian than today's aggressive politicizing of every item into political divides of "liberal" or "conservative--probably another instance of AELC passion wreaking havoc outside of the LCMS which seems to have these kinds of divisions as part and parcel of their internal culture.

I now believe it is simply odd that a church has notions of liberal or conservative. Augsburg 7 you know.

Lou


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Re: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation
« Reply #121 on: December 29, 2011, 11:01:46 AM »
Actually, it seems to me that your definition of confessional and orthodos is much narrower than most of us in the LCMS.  If I read you correctly, for you confessional and orthodox consists only one thing - salvation by God's grace through faith in Jesus Christ.  A quite limited and narrow definition.  As long as that doctrine is somehow adhered to one is orthodox and confession no matter what from the Scripture and the Lutheran confessions is discarded, denied or toyed with.


It is the key thing, but not the only thing. Every thing is interpreted in light of "justification by God's grace through faith in Jesus Christ" -- even more simply, what God is doing for us. Thus we understand the sacraments as God acting for us -- not our act for God. We see the Ten Commandments as God acting for us, not rungs on a ladder whereby we try to get closer to God. That key confession is like the hub of a wheel from which everything us must flow and without it, everything else false apart.
"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]

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Re: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation
« Reply #122 on: December 29, 2011, 11:07:19 AM »
I covered the decision to merge the three Lutheran bodies as a reporter for The New York Times, which put the merger story on Page One. Later, I was director of news for the LCA and attended a number of CNLC meetings, including the final ones; and I spent time with all the key players, writing for the LCA news service, The Lutheran magazine, and guiding secular reporters through the merger process, including running the newsroom at the ELCA Constituting Convention.
    I agree that the AELC had undue influence. They were strong and stubborn and the LCA and ALC were maybe (in my not-so-humble opinion) a little too nice to them. After all, they had come through the great tribulation.  ;)
     Segments of the ALC never took the "national church" very seriously. Or they didn't like "Minneapolis" and came to conventions to complain about "Minneapolis."  I concluded this after I had attended several national ALC conventions. Some of these segments - ELCA bishops have told me - never "really" joined the ELCA.
     At the last, or maybe the penultimate, CNLC meeting, Bishop Crumley told the LCA representatives that he had reservations; that maybe "we don't have it all in place" and hinted that a postponement might be in order. Some back-room negotiations kept the process rolling.
    Dr. David Preus of the ALC, it seemed to me, took a "looser" approach to the merger documents and agreements than did the LCA and AELC people. The ALC leaders might have fostered the idea that the "national expression" of the ELCA would be weak and easy to ignore or control.
     And here we are, more than two decades later. We haven't yet hit the time span between All Saints' Eve, 1517 and 1580, but then it took longer to spread the words around in those days.
 
P.S. I still contend that overall the ALC and LCA and AELC were "moderate" to "liberal" in all things and that no one should be surprised at the directions the ELCA took.


A neighboring pastor, a member of the CNLC, also commented that the AELC folks had never been through a merger. In their experience, disagreements result in schisms. They were less equipped to deal with give-and-take that ALC and LCA had been through with earlier mergers. President Preus did speak against the new church. He believed that there were too many differences to overcome, but he would support the will of the people of the ALC.
"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]

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Re: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation
« Reply #123 on: December 29, 2011, 11:10:50 AM »
Something has been lost though.....

They are dying away now, but I cherish the old ALC Pastors wistfully speaking of the old days when they would attend an old ALC district convention for the collegiality and good spirit and decide who would be the national convention delegate by who among those who had not attended yet had an opening in his schedule and could go. Much less agenda aggrandizement, much less sectarian spirit. Altogether a much healthier way to be christian than today's aggressive politicizing of every item into political divides of "liberal" or "conservative--probably another instance of AELC passion wreaking havoc outside of the LCMS which seems to have these kinds of divisions as part and parcel of their internal culture.

I now believe it is simply odd that a church has notions of liberal or conservative. Augsburg 7 you know.


Exactly the same thing happened in my former conference (I'm at least 180 miles from the meetings of my present conference, so I have attended any meetings). We surfacing nominees for Churchwide Assemblies we did ask, "Who hasn't been to one?" And ask that person if they were willing to be nominated. For the most part, that conference was predominately conservative ELCA folks, and the voting members reflected that position.
"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]

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Re: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation
« Reply #124 on: December 29, 2011, 12:12:26 PM »
I covered the decision to merge the three Lutheran bodies as a reporter for The New York Times, which put the merger story on Page One. Later, I was director of news for the LCA and attended a number of CNLC meetings, including the final ones; and I spent time with all the key players, writing for the LCA news service, The Lutheran magazine, and guiding secular reporters through the merger process, including running the newsroom at the ELCA Constituting Convention.
    I agree that the AELC had undue influence. They were strong and stubborn and the LCA and ALC were maybe (in my not-so-humble opinion) a little too nice to them. After all, they had come through the great tribulation.  ;)
     Segments of the ALC never took the "national church" very seriously. Or they didn't like "Minneapolis" and came to conventions to complain about "Minneapolis."  I concluded this after I had attended several national ALC conventions. Some of these segments - ELCA bishops have told me - never "really" joined the ELCA.
     At the last, or maybe the penultimate, CNLC meeting, Bishop Crumley told the LCA representatives that he had reservations; that maybe "we don't have it all in place" and hinted that a postponement might be in order. Some back-room negotiations kept the process rolling.
    Dr. David Preus of the ALC, it seemed to me, took a "looser" approach to the merger documents and agreements than did the LCA and AELC people. The ALC leaders might have fostered the idea that the "national expression" of the ELCA would be weak and easy to ignore or control.
     And here we are, more than two decades later. We haven't yet hit the time span between All Saints' Eve, 1517 and 1580, but then it took longer to spread the words around in those days.
 
P.S. I still contend that overall the ALC and LCA and AELC were "moderate" to "liberal" in all things and that no one should be surprised at the directions the ELCA took.

I agree with this: On the whole, we were moderate. The average Lutheran and the average Lutheran congregation in '88 were moderate. On the mess that brought on the actions and lawsuit at Grace, Eau Claire, we were conservative. The '93 statement was opposed by 80% of the laity and 65% of the clergy.

The pastor of Grace Lutheran, Eau Claire, Rolf Nestigen, who was in W. North Dakota when I was there, was one of the most vocal opponents of the '93 statement in our synod and his opposition always had the line that the statement was based on "a bizarre method of biblical interpretation," included in it. I would say he has remained consistent in his views. He is just as conservative as he has always been. His bishop was no less embarrassed (his words, made in public) by the '93 statement and Rolf almost replaced that bishop once back in '92. What I remember from that election was that he was a staunch defender of the concept that the synod, seminary, and the national church needed to take their lead from the congregations in all matters and never assume that it worked the other way around.

His church has changed; maybe: it was changed, is a better line. It was moved from large scale agreement to a statement that enshrines disagreement as a institutional value under the rubric of diversity. We might want to ponder in how many other matters we have drifted apart from large scale unity.

I disagree with this: We were not liberals and, I am going out on a limb here, we still are not. There is a lot of public talk that sounds very "liberal" and there are a number of decisions that are tainted that way. There is a lot of "institutional speak" that uses a lot of liberal academia words but the average Lutheran in the pew remains a moderate, with expressed permission to be so by the '09 statement that also allows him to be conservative or liberal, as if he needed that permission. There are some really liberal congregations out there. There are some really conservative ones. Same with pastors and parishioners. Most do not choose to advertise how liberal or conservative or whatnot they are. I am not sure that even our National Bishop, who speaks publicly and does so often, would want to say we are "liberal." He would say that we are "diverse." The value of that latter value might make a good new thread, BTW.
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George Erdner

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Re: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation
« Reply #125 on: December 29, 2011, 01:12:53 PM »
With churches and denominations, as with politics and other issues in the secular world, "liberal" and "conservative" only have real meaning in comparison to other things. Using the standard analogy of right and left, something is only located on the right when compared to something to its left. To something even further right, the thing on the right is really to the left. That's why labels like liberal and conservative are only meaningful in context. Compared to the WELS, the LCMS is liberal. Compared to some micro-synods, the WELS is liberal.
 
Then there's the issue of issues. Some congregations or denominations are liberal about worship practices and conservative about theology. Others are the opposite. I've encountered churches that were extremely conservatively fundamentalist in their teachings, but were very liberal in what they did during worship services. I've met women pastors in the ELCA who would fit right in to the conservative theology of the LCMS or WELS, aside from disagreement over women's ordination. I've met male pastors who are totally conservative regarding women's ordination, but who are very liberal concerning issues like universalism.
 
To some, favoring a congregationalist structure over an episcopal/hierarchical structure is the mark of being conservative. Others see that as totally opposite.
 
Most people I've encountered in life regard themselves as being center/moderate in their outlook, because where they are is the center of the universe, and everyone else is to their right or their left. Still others were self-proclaimed liberals at one time, but as events surrounding them caused the center to shift beyond them, leaving them now to the right of the new center, still believe that they are liberals.
 
In short, while it's easy to make a blithe statement about the ELCA having always been a "liberal" denomination doesn't change the fact that to many people in the ELCA, the center moved so far to the left as to be out of sight.

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Re: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation
« Reply #126 on: December 29, 2011, 01:48:04 PM »
I agree with this: On the whole, we were moderate.


Within the range of Christian thinking in the U.S., the ELCA is moderate. Among the range of Lutheran thinking in the U.S., the ELCA is the most liberal Lutheran denomination.
"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]

Dan Fienen

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Re: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation
« Reply #127 on: December 29, 2011, 03:11:05 PM »
I'm still trying to figure out just what it should mean for conservatives this insistence that the ELCA has always been a moderate to liberal denomination, everyone should have been able to see that from the beginning, and realistically, that is not going to change. 
 
But what sould the implications of that be for conservatives who are members of the ELCA or are considering being members of the ELCA.  They are being told that they are not joining or belonging to a conservative denomination and they should not hope that is going to change.  Perhaps they should not even consider trying to change that.
 
Yet the ELCA has been insistent that they welcome conservatives, value their contribution to the conversation, and want them to be a part of the big tent.  Even so, Pr. Stoffregen (as I remember, I think it was a week or more ago and I do not have the reference at my finger tips) said specifically that positions that conservatives hold (especially on same sex issues but also on things like women's ordination, and I guess view of Scripture, but I digress) are not forbidden in the ELCA but they should not expect any support for their beliefs or any help to spread them.
 
Pr. Austin has been insistent that he hopes that all those who were disappointed by CWA '09 would remain in the ELCA, that their voices in the conversation are important.  He seems somewhat disparaging towards those who feel they must leave (he certainly wants them to stay), but wishes that if they must they would do so (abiding by all the rules) will all due haste and never speak about the ELCA again, except may to report how graciously they were treated.  If they stay, they should always be respectful toward the rest of the ELCA and the decision that were made and fulfill all obligations.  If they feel badly treated, and some probably have been, consider that they may have had a hand in causing their ill treatment by their disrespectful bahavior and their failure to fulfill their obligations.  He seems to want to assume unless proven otherwise that traditionalists have at least in part deserved what they have gotten.
 
With all of that, what place is there within the ELCA for conservatives or traditionalists?  They will always be at best a tolerated minority existing on the sufferance of the majority.  The "Liberals" can expect their positions to be supported and celebrated by the ELCA, the "Conservatives" with get whatever support that they can provide for themselves.  Can they expect Sunday School material, Bible Study material, teaching at the colleges and seminaries of the ELCA to support their viewpoint or offer it as a viable position?  They are wanted, but it seems to me told to then sit on the sidelines.
 
It seems to me a bit confusing.  On the one hand the traditionalists are told that they are desired to be a part of the whole but implicitly told that while they are wanted and can join in the conversation, to never expect their beliefs to be a part of the ELCA ethos when their beliefs differ from that of the liberal majority.
 
Pr. Austin despairs of meaningful theological diaglog with the LCMS.  What is the LCMS offered by the ELCA but an opportunity to be a part of a larger church that will never embrace what we believe and will allow us in only if we will play nice and not upset the majority.  We are told, the ELCA will never be LCMS so why don't you stop being LCMS and become ELCA.  Our beliefs are apparently respected, but why don't you drop them or allow them to be strange personal opinions so that you can join us and support our causes. Why would we?  Would the ELCA be willing to do that to be closer to the LCMS?  I doubt it.
 
Dan
 
 
Pr. Daniel Fienen
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Re: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation
« Reply #128 on: December 29, 2011, 04:26:56 PM »
I'm still trying to figure out just what it should mean for conservatives this insistence that the ELCA has always been a moderate to liberal denomination, everyone should have been able to see that from the beginning, and realistically, that is not going to change. 
 
But what sould the implications of that be for conservatives who are members of the ELCA or are considering being members of the ELCA.  They are being told that they are not joining or belonging to a conservative denomination and they should not hope that is going to change.  Perhaps they should not even consider trying to change that.

This was exactly the point I was trying to make in response to Charles' claim that ELCA seminaries were open to "all views".  When I attended an ELCA seminary 20 years ago, it was a moderate to liberal seminary.  There is nothing wrong with that in itself.  What is wrong is the claim that ELCA seminaries are more open to diverse views than they are.  The fact is that ELCA seminaries are open to all views that fall within the moderate to liberal spectrum.  They are not nearly as open to conservative or evangelical views.  I don't think we can expect them to be that diverse.  We should be able to expect folks like Charles to stop making grandiose claims about their diversity.
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Re: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation
« Reply #129 on: December 29, 2011, 04:33:44 PM »
I agree with this: On the whole, we were moderate.


Within the range of Christian thinking in the U.S., the ELCA is moderate. Among the range of Lutheran thinking in the U.S., the ELCA is the most liberal Lutheran denomination.
In comparison to the range of Christian thinking in the US, I am a liberal.  In the eyes of the ruling intelligentsia in the ELCA, I am a paleolithic conservative. 
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Re: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation
« Reply #130 on: December 29, 2011, 04:51:05 PM »
President Preus did speak against the new church. He believed that there were too many differences to overcome, but he would support the will of the people of the ALC.

He spoke against it when it was initially proposed.  Once an ALC referendum made it clear merger had strong support within the ALC, he changed his mind and was strongly committed to it -- even when (or perhaps one should say, especially when) the LCA, uh, got quite nervous over some serious matters.
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"Big Tent"
« Reply #131 on: December 29, 2011, 05:11:41 PM »

We are the "big tent" denomination.


Big tents are for circuses.

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Please note that the above quotation (which is usually beneath my image to the left) is from another topic and another time on this forum.

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« Last Edit: December 29, 2011, 05:13:59 PM by The Rev. Steven P. Tibbetts, STS »
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Re: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation
« Reply #132 on: December 29, 2011, 08:16:33 PM »
I'm still trying to figure out just what it should mean for conservatives this insistence that the ELCA has always been a moderate to liberal denomination, everyone should have been able to see that from the beginning, and realistically, that is not going to change. 
 
But what sould the implications of that be for conservatives who are members of the ELCA or are considering being members of the ELCA.  They are being told that they are not joining or belonging to a conservative denomination and they should not hope that is going to change.  Perhaps they should not even consider trying to change that.
 
Yet the ELCA has been insistent that they welcome conservatives, value their contribution to the conversation, and want them to be a part of the big tent.  Even so, Pr. Stoffregen (as I remember, I think it was a week or more ago and I do not have the reference at my finger tips) said specifically that positions that conservatives hold (especially on same sex issues but also on things like women's ordination, and I guess view of Scripture, but I digress) are not forbidden in the ELCA but they should not expect any support for their beliefs or any help to spread them.
 
Pr. Austin has been insistent that he hopes that all those who were disappointed by CWA '09 would remain in the ELCA, that their voices in the conversation are important.  He seems somewhat disparaging towards those who feel they must leave (he certainly wants them to stay), but wishes that if they must they would do so (abiding by all the rules) will all due haste and never speak about the ELCA again, except may to report how graciously they were treated.  If they stay, they should always be respectful toward the rest of the ELCA and the decision that were made and fulfill all obligations.  If they feel badly treated, and some probably have been, consider that they may have had a hand in causing their ill treatment by their disrespectful bahavior and their failure to fulfill their obligations.  He seems to want to assume unless proven otherwise that traditionalists have at least in part deserved what they have gotten.
 
With all of that, what place is there within the ELCA for conservatives or traditionalists?  They will always be at best a tolerated minority existing on the sufferance of the majority.  The "Liberals" can expect their positions to be supported and celebrated by the ELCA, the "Conservatives" with get whatever support that they can provide for themselves.  Can they expect Sunday School material, Bible Study material, teaching at the colleges and seminaries of the ELCA to support their viewpoint or offer it as a viable position?  They are wanted, but it seems to me told to then sit on the sidelines.
 
It seems to me a bit confusing.  On the one hand the traditionalists are told that they are desired to be a part of the whole but implicitly told that while they are wanted and can join in the conversation, to never expect their beliefs to be a part of the ELCA ethos when their beliefs differ from that of the liberal majority.
 
Pr. Austin despairs of meaningful theological diaglog with the LCMS.  What is the LCMS offered by the ELCA but an opportunity to be a part of a larger church that will never embrace what we believe and will allow us in only if we will play nice and not upset the majority.  We are told, the ELCA will never be LCMS so why don't you stop being LCMS and become ELCA.  Our beliefs are apparently respected, but why don't you drop them or allow them to be strange personal opinions so that you can join us and support our causes. Why would we?  Would the ELCA be willing to do that to be closer to the LCMS?  I doubt it.
 
Dan

The problem with the big tent is that not all the acts can share the ring. The lion act and the miniature ponies don't belong in the same space, neither will the high wire act want to share the ring while the firewater is spouting it off below.

That is an ELCA problem and will be for a while to come. We want to be diverse. The problem is that diversity turns into  division in one simple action: assertion of one's position. If the liberal and the conservative merely live next to one another, there really is no problem. We have done that and are doing that in many things as is the LCMS. It becomes division and hostility when someone asserts that their view is "the right one." The implication being that the other side needs to convert.

As soon as either side asserts that diversity is nice but that their side is "right" diversity ends and division starts and all kinds of political bullying and other unsavory tactics will be pulled out. Once that starts, and it started in ELCA over 10 years ago, it is a goat rodeo to try to restore diversity think because the fighting mechanisms and habits of the factions will not just go away. 2009 was an attempt to create a framework to make a move to diversity happen. I am not so sure it can be done by such simple fiat. You cannot legislate humility and you cannot sign a cease fire agreement on behalf of a parties you do not represent.

BTW: You have to accept diversity as a value for any of this in the first place. No problem there.
« Last Edit: December 29, 2011, 08:26:01 PM by Dadoo »
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Re: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation
« Reply #133 on: December 29, 2011, 09:11:59 PM »
Even the largest of tents have their limits, beyond which lie pegs and ropes that can trip one face-down into the mud.
« Last Edit: December 29, 2011, 09:14:38 PM by Rev. J. Thomas Shelley, STS »
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Re: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation
« Reply #134 on: December 29, 2011, 09:20:36 PM »
...As soon as either side asserts that diversity is nice but that their side is "right" diversity ends and division starts and all kinds of political bullying and other unsavory tactics will be pulled out. ...

You add money, church property, and the blood, sweat, and tears of members and their ancestors into the mix and you get to lawsuits ...
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