Author Topic: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation  (Read 93032 times)

Dadoo

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Re: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation
« Reply #240 on: January 04, 2012, 03:44:08 PM »
I seem to remember that Powell unlike a postmodern, actually made arguments for things and did not resort to merely deconstructing older arguments. As a matter of fact he was fairly comfortable with what had gone before him, exegetical wise. He seem to be more interested in advancing the art and science of exegesis, not in disproving old results.

if the approach one uses to attempt to retain a congregation is postmodern, i.e. "I deny the validity of your argument therefore you are wrong and I am right and you can't leave"


I don't see that as postmodern, but "traditionalism." Post-moderns are more likely to say, "I see the validity of your arguments and I also see the validity of the arguments on the other side. Neither of them are wrong or right. We should be able to stay together."


It's the traditionalists who seem more likely to use the language of "right" and "wrong" -- without areas of gray.

Try reading all that Peter wrote, rather than the snippet you copied.  A traditionalist does believe in right and wrong, but also believes in making a case for his position.  A post-modernist, believing that talk of truth is just a power play, merely asserts.  "I assert that you are wrong.  Therefore you are wrong." 

Now, there is another post-modern strategy, that is to deny that we can know anything definitively.  Or, more correctly, the only thing we know for certain is that we are never able to know anything for certain.  Therefore, the one who claims to know something is the one in the wrong.  Of course, a power play must follow.  "All things are relative but the ELCA constitutions as infallilibly interpreted by the Secretary of the ELCA."


From Mark Allan Powell in Loving Jesus:


I think that worship is the essence of spirituality. But worship, like joy, can sometimes be superficial. In Matthew 15, Jesus tells the Pharisees that they worship God with their lips while their hearts are far from God. The Pharisees, of course, are often the fall guys in this Gospel and they seem to stay in trouble the whole time. Still, say what you will about the Pharisees -- the one thing they never do is doubt. They are always certain about something. They are the "God said it. I believe it, that settles it" people of the Bible. It never occurs to them that they might have overlooked something or misunderstood osmething. As a result, they are often wrong, but they are never in doubt.

By contrast, disciples of Jesus worship and doubt at the same time -- and Jesus doesn't call their worship superficial. It might be going too far to say that doubt is a good thing, but I do note that Jesus rebukes anyone for it. I am tempted to believe that just as fear seasons joy, so doubt seasons worship. Joy without fear becomes shallow; and worship without doubt can be self-assured and superficial. Fear and doubt are not good things in themselves; but they do keep us grounded in reality. (p. 123 italics in original)


Certainty can be detrimental to an honest faith. Is that just a post-modern position, or a biblical truth given through the comparison of the certainty of the Pharisees vs. the waverings of the disciples?

Well Brian, "Dadoo" and I were both students of Dr. Powell.  I had him for Intro to the Gospels and for a exegetical course on the Gospel of Matthew.  Dadoo can speak for himself, but I can honestly say that he was one of the best teachers I ever had in seminary.  And you sir are no Mark Powell.  :P

There is a difference between honest doubt and post-modern scepticism.  I could be wrong, but having studied under him in two courses and hearing him speak on many other occasions, I would not say that Dr. Powell is an advocate of post-modern scepticism.  Furthermore, a postmodernist of the kind that Dadoo describes trades in an honest search for the truth for power politics.  In spite of disagreements I might have with him, I still consider Dr. Powell to be someone who values the search for truth.   
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Evangel

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Coach-Rev

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Re: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation
« Reply #242 on: January 30, 2012, 08:44:53 AM »
another black eye for Lutheranism, delivered by those who call themselves Lutheran and Christian. 


Charles_Austin

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Re: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation
« Reply #243 on: January 30, 2012, 11:36:20 AM »
Or perhaps - we don't really know - another heroic effort of people to keep their church from being hijacked illegally by a group unable to get its way through proper procedures.

DCharlton

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Re: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation
« Reply #244 on: January 30, 2012, 11:35:14 PM »
Or perhaps - we don't really know - another heroic effort of people to keep their church from being hijacked illegally by a group unable to get its way through proper procedures.

Or perhaps - we don't know - courageous visionaries being held back by legalistic and outmoded disciplinary structure.  Maybe we can have a festival Eucharist in their honor at the next CWA!
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Coach-Rev

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Re: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation
« Reply #245 on: January 31, 2012, 07:55:14 AM »
Or perhaps - we really do know - those who left and formed a new congregation with synodical help should stop pouting that there is still a clear majority there that wants to leave, and should realize that their departure and chartering of a new congregation does indeed constitute membership elsewhere and thus negates their voice there.

James_Gale

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Re: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation
« Reply #246 on: January 31, 2012, 07:58:32 AM »

Or perhaps - we don't really know - another heroic effort of people to keep their church from being hijacked illegally by a group unable to get its way through proper procedures.


Who are the heroes of your "musing"?  The plaintiffs?  The defendants?  Both?  I suspect that you are referring to the plaintiffs, but maybe not.  And if I didn't know your usual position on these questions, I truly wouldn't be able to tell.

Charles_Austin

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Re: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation
« Reply #247 on: January 31, 2012, 09:11:34 AM »
I note, Mr. Gale, that the effort to leave the ELCA failed; and that the partisans on the leave-the-ELCA side then attempted to join another denomination anyway, contending that this did not take a two-thirds majority vote. From afar, and I cannot obviously be sure; this sounds to me like an effort to do a run around the proper procedures.
But these are musings from afar. Folks can pick their own heroes and heroines if they wish. 


James_Gale

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Re: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation
« Reply #248 on: January 31, 2012, 09:37:34 AM »
I note, Mr. Gale, that the effort to leave the ELCA failed; and that the partisans on the leave-the-ELCA side then attempted to join another denomination anyway, contending that this did not take a two-thirds majority vote. From afar, and I cannot obviously be sure; this sounds to me like an effort to do a run around the proper procedures.
But these are musings from afar. Folks can pick their own heroes and heroines if they wish.


And indeed, this is one perspective on the situation. 


Another is that (i) the congregation's constitution, approved at a time when the ELCA's leaders made clear that dual rostering of congregations was acceptable, does not preclude dual rostering; (ii) the congregation, acting under its constitution, joined a second church body without leaving the ELCA; (iii) the congregation's leaders, acting under the congregation's governing documents, removed from the voting-membership roll those who left to form a new congregation (or worshiping community or whatever other term might be appropriate) instead of staying in the hope of working through differences in accord with the congregation's governing documents; (iv) those who left, having failed to muster a majority for their position, now are going to court to take the congregation's property away from the members there who have acted all along in accord with the congregation's governing documents; and (v) the congregation and its members now are fighting valiantly and at great expense in civil court to keep the congregation from "being hijacked illegally by a group unable to get its way through proper procedures."  The synod, inexplicably, is assisting the litigation effort instead of following its own "proper procedures," which are limited to a consideration of whether disciplinary measures should be taken.  The remedies available under the disciplinary rules do not include taking over the congregation or seizing its property or giving the congregation to a rump group.

Now, I agree that we don't know all the facts.  But your theory would work only if the congregation's governing documents -- which ultimately govern here -- preclude dual rostering, require a two-thirds vote to join a church body, and preclude a congregation from removing from its rolls those who have left the congregation.  Do you have any basis for believing that the congregation's governing documents do any of these things? 

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation
« Reply #249 on: January 31, 2012, 11:10:57 AM »
Another is that (i) the congregation's constitution, approved at a time when the ELCA's leaders made clear that dual rostering of congregations was acceptable, does not preclude dual rostering;


What steps does the constitution/bylaws give for becoming a dual rostered congregation? Does it take one vote or two votes? Is it a simple majority vote or 2/3 majority vote? Does the congregation have to receive synod approval to become dual rostered?


As I understand Sec. Swartling's ruling, since there are no legal steps given to become a dual rostered congregation, it is prohibited. When the former presiding bishop said that the ELCA allowed it, it was in reference to six congregations who had a relationship with the LCMS before the ELCA was formed. They were grandfathered in. Four of the six chose one Lutheran body to relate to. Two of the six remain -- in Pacific Palisades, CA and in Arcata, CA; but they are not dual rostered congregations -- they are two separate congregations sharing a building and a pastor.



Quote
(ii) the congregation, acting under its constitution, joined a second church body without leaving the ELCA;


What does the constitution say about joining a second church body? How does a congregation do that? I don't read any rules for that in the model constitution. Thus, it seems that congregations made up their own rules of what is required to join another denomination.


Quote
(iii) the congregation's leaders, acting under the congregation's governing documents, removed from the voting-membership roll those who left to form a new congregation (or worshiping community or whatever other term might be appropriate) instead of staying in the hope of working through differences in accord with the congregation's governing documents;


I know of no procedure in the model constitution that allows the congregation council to place active members on the associate member list. Again, the congregation made up their own rules.


Quote
(iv) those who left, having failed to muster a majority for their position, now are going to court to take the congregation's property away from the members there who have acted all along in accord with the congregation's governing documents;


Show me where they followed the rules in the constitution for (a) joining another denomination and (b) transferring members to associate members -- essentially telling them that they no longer had a vote in congregational matters.


Quote
and (v) the congregation and its members now are fighting valiantly and at great expense in civil court to keep the congregation from "being hijacked illegally by a group unable to get its way through proper procedures."  The synod, inexplicably, is assisting the litigation effort instead of following its own "proper procedures," which are limited to a consideration of whether disciplinary measures should be taken.  The remedies available under the disciplinary rules do not include taking over the congregation or seizing its property or giving the congregation to a rump group.


According to their own constitution, the congregation remains in the ELCA and under the authority of the synod. Their constitution gives them no right to join another body nor to remove voting privileges from active members.
"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]

TravisW

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Re: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation
« Reply #250 on: January 31, 2012, 11:49:03 AM »
It's entirely likely that Grace Lutheran never changed their constitution to conform to the ELCA's model constitution.  Many congregations haven't.  So, I guess if nobody has a copy of their constitution, we're pretty much tossing "could-be's" around. 

James_Gale

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Re: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation
« Reply #251 on: January 31, 2012, 11:52:54 AM »
Another is that (i) the congregation's constitution, approved at a time when the ELCA's leaders made clear that dual rostering of congregations was acceptable, does not preclude dual rostering;

What steps does the constitution/bylaws give for becoming a dual rostered congregation? Does it take one vote or two votes? Is it a simple majority vote or 2/3 majority vote? Does the congregation have to receive synod approval to become dual rostered?

As I understand Sec. Swartling's ruling, since there are no legal steps given to become a dual rostered congregation, it is prohibited. When the former presiding bishop said that the ELCA allowed it, it was in reference to six congregations who had a relationship with the LCMS before the ELCA was formed. They were grandfathered in. Four of the six chose one Lutheran body to relate to. Two of the six remain -- in Pacific Palisades, CA and in Arcata, CA; but they are not dual rostered congregations -- they are two separate congregations sharing a building and a pastor.


Secretary Swartling has authority regarding interpretation of the ELCA's governing documents.  He has no authority over the congregations and the interpretation of their governing documents.  So his interpretations don't matter at all in discerning the congregation's powers.


Moreover, the ELCA's congregations adopted their constitutions at a time when the ELCA's leadership made clear that "dual congregations don't pose a problem for the ELCA."  Secretary Swartling is attempting to change the rules in the middle of a game in which contrary rules already had been set, established, and held firm.  In other words, the congregations, when approving their constitutions and for many years thereafter had every reason to understand that their governing documents permitted dual rostering.  The congregational constitutions have not added anything new on this subject.  The only change is that a new secretary has decided that the old regime was wrong.  That may or may not bind the churchwide expression.  It certainly does not bind those who adopted congregational governing documents in good faith with an understanding that those documents permitted dual membership.


Thus, in deciding whether to join a second church body, the congregation most assuredly was justified in doing so by following the general decision-making process established by the congregation's governing documents.

George Erdner

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Re: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation
« Reply #252 on: January 31, 2012, 01:17:48 PM »
Anyone who offers the knee-jerk response to any and every comment about something that "the ELCA has done" by pointing out that it was the synod that did whatever it was, not the ELCA, has abdicated any moral authority to disagree with the concept that individual congregations can do as their own individual constitutions say they can, regardless of what some hypothetical "model" constitution might say, and regardless of what some layman in a position of authority in Higgins Road says.
 
If the ELCA is not its synods, then the synods are not their congregations. Any arguing over which side is right or wrong in this lawsuit is moot. The people doing the suing have no legal standing. They abdicated their legal standing when they formed a new congregation, regardless of what legalistic nomenclature the ELCA gave it. Worshipping community, mission start, whatever, they all mean "new congregation". By joining a new one, they left the old one. Once they leave the old one, they aren't members any more, and therefore have no standing.
 
The exception would be if individual congregants are permitted to be dual-rostered in multiple congregations. Would one of the ELCA's pseudo-lawyers who are so quick to quote chapter and verse of the ELCA's governing documents care to demonstrate where individual congregants are permitted to be voting members of more than one congregation at a time?
 
 

grabau

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Re: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation
« Reply #253 on: January 31, 2012, 01:55:57 PM »
I don't believe Grace Church in Eau Claire, WI is a"tiny congregation".  grabau

Steven Tibbetts

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Re: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation
« Reply #254 on: January 31, 2012, 02:10:19 PM »

What steps does the constitution/bylaws give for becoming a dual rostered congregation? Does it take one vote or two votes? Is it a simple majority vote or 2/3 majority vote? Does the congregation have to receive synod approval to become dual rostered?


These are the issues being litigated, Brian.  The ELCA Constitutions do not directly address these questions, unless joining LCMC is adopting a faith contrary to that described in the ELCA's Constitutions.  Are congregations free to do things that are not prohibited (something you like to assert in other contexts), or are the free only to to things specifically permitted (something you seem to be, uh, suggesting in this particular context), or something in-between. 

Perhaps this judge will render a decision, whereupon we can argue whether this is setting a precedent and, if so, for whom.

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