Author Topic: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation  (Read 101433 times)

Steven Tibbetts

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Re: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation
« Reply #390 on: March 06, 2012, 12:18:46 AM »

No one could give any "assurances" about what the ELCA would require until the merge was actually completed. If "many bishops" gave you those assurances prior to the merger, they were stupid to do so and you were stupid to believe them.

Well, that's one thing in the ELCA that hasn't changed!  Assurances given prior to a vote don't mean squat after the vote happens.  Now, which smiley do I insert?
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Mel Harris

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Re: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation
« Reply #391 on: March 06, 2012, 03:46:15 AM »

I comment:
No one could give any "assurances" about what the ELCA would require until the merge was actually completed. If "many bishops" gave you those assurances prior to the merger, they were stupid to do so and you were stupid to believe them.



Congregations of the ALC were each entitled to a vote on whether or not the ALC would join in the new ELCA.  Bishops and others gave them assurances about what the ELCA would be like, based in part on what was in the constitution that was written for the ELCA.  I personally heard and read some of those assurances before the congregations voted on this in 1987, and after 1988 when congregations were considering whether or not to make any changes to their constitutions. Some of those assurances were based on article 9.52. of the ELCA Constitution which reads as follows:

Quote

The governing documents of congregations recognized at the establishment of this church shall continue to govern such congregations. When such a congregation wishes to amend any provision of its governing documents, the governing documents of that congregation shall be so amended to conform to 9.25.b. The synod responsible for the review of such amendments may permit, for good cause, a congregation to retain particular unamended provisions in the congregation’s governing documents that were in force at the establishment of this church.


Pastor Austin clearly has stated that those who were designated to explain the ELCA to the congregations and pastors of the ALC were stupid, and any ALC congregations and pastors who believed them were also stupid.

Pastor Austin has therefore implied that any who believed the ELCA would actually follow its constitution were stupid.

I am surprised that Pastor Austin would publicly admit that the written word of the ELCA and the spoken word of its bishops and other officials is not to be trusted.

       Mel Harris

« Last Edit: March 06, 2012, 03:56:45 AM by Mel Harris »

Charles_Austin

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Re: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation
« Reply #392 on: March 06, 2012, 05:42:13 AM »
Mel Harris writes:
I am surprised that Pastor Austin would publicly admit that the written word of the ELCA and the spoken word of its bishops and other officials is not to be trusted.

I comment:
That is not what I said, nor what I implied.
     The constitution of the ELCA was not final until - well duh! - the Constituting Convention, so any "assurances" made prior to that time had at least a soupçon of speculation. And Mr. Harris rightly notes that congregation "may" - repeat "may" - have been given permission to keep some provisions of their earlier constitutions; but that when amended, the constitutions were to have been brought in line with the key provisions of the ELCA documents.
    Again, all that was 20+ years ago, and the world moves on. Constitutions are subject to interpretation by trial and error, judicial rulings, and amendment.
    I still contend that a lot of the fooferaw about the alleged "horrors" of the ELCA has come from those who did not do their own due diligence or pay attention to the reality of the church body that was being formed.
     Some did, asked sufferance from their synod, or - in some cases - did not join the ELCA.


Scotty8284

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Re: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation
« Reply #393 on: March 06, 2012, 10:25:24 AM »
I comment:
...And Mr. Harris rightly notes that congregation "may" - repeat "may" - have been given permission to keep some provisions of their earlier constitutions; but that when amended, the constitutions were to have been brought in line with the key provisions of the ELCA documents.
    Again, all that was 20+ years ago, and the world moves on. Constitutions are subject to interpretation by trial and error, judicial rulings, and amendment.

It was that dual edged sword of being forced to adopt changes a congregation may not want to that kept many from making any changes whatsoever to their constitutions.

The further the ELCA traveled down the road to its current circumstances, congregations that were skeptical of that direction decided against making any changes because their original constitutions had escape clauses that were less stringent or prone to manipulation than that imposed by the ELCA.
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Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation
« Reply #394 on: March 06, 2012, 11:13:34 AM »

I comment:
No one could give any "assurances" about what the ELCA would require until the merge was actually completed. If "many bishops" gave you those assurances prior to the merger, they were stupid to do so and you were stupid to believe them.



Congregations of the ALC were each entitled to a vote on whether or not the ALC would join in the new ELCA.  Bishops and others gave them assurances about what the ELCA would be like, based in part on what was in the constitution that was written for the ELCA.  I personally heard and read some of those assurances before the congregations voted on this in 1987, and after 1988 when congregations were considering whether or not to make any changes to their constitutions. Some of those assurances were based on article 9.52. of the ELCA Constitution which reads as follows:

Quote

The governing documents of congregations recognized at the establishment of this church shall continue to govern such congregations. When such a congregation wishes to amend any provision of its governing documents, the governing documents of that congregation shall be so amended to conform to 9.25.b. The synod responsible for the review of such amendments may permit, for good cause, a congregation to retain particular unamended provisions in the congregation’s governing documents that were in force at the establishment of this church.



The next article in the ELCA Constitution is:


9.53. Each congregation shall have governing documents, no terms of which shall conflict with provision 9.21. Subject to the provisions of 9.52., these documents shall contain the elements listed in the bylaws.

9.53.01. The governing documents of congregations shall include:
     a. the Confession of Faith;
     b. the Statement of Purpose;
     c. provisions describing the congregation’s relationship to this church;
     d. a process for calling a pastor;
     e. a listing of the duties of a pastor;
     f. provisions describing the role of the pastor in the governance of the congregation;
     g. a process for removal of a pastor;
     h. provisions regulating the disposition of property;
     i. a legislative process;
     j. an enumeration of officers with definition of authority and functions of each;
     k. a definition of each structural component (e.g., committees, boards); and
     l. a process for the discipline of members.


Congregations could keep their Constitution, but if anything was in conflict with 9.21, it would have to change. If they changed any part, then the whole Constitution had to be in line with the model. Frankly, I always felt that a congregation of the ELCA should want to have constitution that was consistent with the Model Constitution. I've always had congregations compare their constitutions with the latest model (which are updated every 2 years) and revise theirs.

"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]

Chuck Sampson

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Re: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation
« Reply #395 on: March 06, 2012, 04:54:27 PM »
Pastor Sampson writes:
Some of us remember the assurances of many Bishops prior to the merger that no congregation would be required to adopt a new constitution.

I comment:
No one could give any "assurances" about what the ELCA would require until the merge was actually completed. If "many bishops" gave you those assurances prior to the merger, they were stupid to do so and you were stupid to believe them.
Rest assured, Charles, that I did not believe those Bishops for a moment.   Nor do I attribute the Bishops' statements to "stupidity"; instead I suspect the statements had a more nefarious explanation.

Pilgrim

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Re: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation
« Reply #396 on: March 06, 2012, 05:27:58 PM »
I've always had congregations compare their constitutions with the latest model (which are updated every 2 years) and revise theirs.

Tim, smiling as I type, notes: Ergo, "revisionists" continually "revise"!  ::)
Pr. Tim Christ, STS

Ken Kimball

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Re: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation
« Reply #397 on: March 06, 2012, 07:57:28 PM »
Pastor Sampson writes:
I did not believe those Bishops for a moment.   Nor do I attribute the Bishops' statements to "stupidity"; instead I suspect the statements had a more nefarious explanation.

I comment:
I suppose it is good to know, for future reference with regard to conversations with you, that you presumed the worst of your ecclesiastical superiors and approached them expecting to find something evil in what they said and did.
And with those presumptions, how easy it must have been for you to have your "expectations" fulfilled. You write it smugly, but I consider it a sad commentary on ministry and our relations with one another.
Pr. Austin, you're the one who said those who came into the ELCA believing the assurances of their bishops were "stupid" for doing so.  Your lack of understanding and empathy for those who felt betrayed by the gap between assurances received from their bishops and the actual direction taken by ELCA leadership speaks volumes about the difficulties and pressures facing those orthodox-traditional pastors and laity who remain in the ELCA.  On what grounds can you encourage or convince them they should trust (and act with trust and support) for the synodical and churchwide leadership of the ELCA, including the supposed promise that their "bound consciences" will be respected?
Ken

George Erdner

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Re: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation
« Reply #398 on: March 06, 2012, 08:32:00 PM »
Your lack of understanding and empathy for those who felt betrayed by the gap between assurances received from their bishops and the actual direction taken by ELCA leadership speaks volumes about the difficulties and pressures facing those orthodox-traditional pastors and laity who remain in the ELCA.  On what grounds can you encourage or convince them they should trust (and act with trust and support) for the synodical and churchwide leadership of the ELCA, including the supposed promise that their "bound consciences" will be respected?
Ken

I would add that there are two very different kinds of "trust". One can trust someone else to never deliberately lie, but that doesn't automatically mean that one can also trust that person to be accurate. There are many people who I trust to never knowingly tell me a lie, but who I have little confidence are accurate in what they say. It angers me to read someone automatically assume that if one doesn't have confidence in the accuracy of statements from ELCA middle management, that means one is accusing them of being "evil". I don't think anyone is saying that they were "evil" to pass along what they thought was the truth at the time, only to have subsequent events make those statements inaccurate.

Dan Fienen

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Re: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation
« Reply #399 on: March 06, 2012, 09:17:01 PM »
Pastor Sampson writes:
I did not believe those Bishops for a moment.   Nor do I attribute the Bishops' statements to "stupidity"; instead I suspect the statements had a more nefarious explanation.

I comment:
I suppose it is good to know, for future reference with regard to conversations with you, that you presumed the worst of your ecclesiastical superiors and approached them expecting to find something evil in what they said and did.
And with those presumptions, how easy it must have been for you to have your "expectations" fulfilled. You write it smugly, but I consider it a sad commentary on ministry and our relations with one another.
Pr. Austin, you're the one who said those who came into the ELCA believing the assurances of their bishops were "stupid" for doing so.  Your lack of understanding and empathy for those who felt betrayed by the gap between assurances received from their bishops and the actual direction taken by ELCA leadership speaks volumes about the difficulties and pressures facing those orthodox-traditional pastors and laity who remain in the ELCA.  On what grounds can you encourage or convince them they should trust (and act with trust and support) for the synodical and churchwide leadership of the ELCA, including the supposed promise that their "bound consciences" will be respected?
Ken

As we were recently reminded by a participant here of Pres. Ronald Reagan - "trust but verify".
 
Pastor Hatcher writes:
So, if one asks those in authority over you, whom one ought to trust as a leader in the faith, and that leader gives an answer that is inaccurate, later proved to be false or reneged on by later church leaders, then one is to be considered stupid for not harboring the suspicions of the leadership you so often decry in this forum. 

I muse:
To quote a former president: "Trust, but verify."
To quote myself: "Use some common sense!"
Pr. Daniel Fienen
LCMS

Chuck Sampson

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Re: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation
« Reply #400 on: March 06, 2012, 09:57:16 PM »
Pastor Sampson writes:
I did not believe those Bishops for a moment.   Nor do I attribute the Bishops' statements to "stupidity"; instead I suspect the statements had a more nefarious explanation.

I comment:
I suppose it is good to know, for future reference with regard to conversations with you, that you presumed the worst of your ecclesiastical superiors and approached them expecting to find something evil in what they said and did.
And with those presumptions, how easy it must have been for you to have your "expectations" fulfilled. You write it smugly, but I consider it a sad commentary on ministry and our relations with one another.
For your own good, put the shovel down.

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation
« Reply #401 on: March 07, 2012, 12:08:29 AM »
Pr. Austin, you're the one who said those who came into the ELCA believing the assurances of their bishops were "stupid" for doing so.  Your lack of understanding and empathy for those who felt betrayed by the gap between assurances received from their bishops and the actual direction taken by ELCA leadership speaks volumes about the difficulties and pressures facing those orthodox-traditional pastors and laity who remain in the ELCA.  On what grounds can you encourage or convince them they should trust (and act with trust and support) for the synodical and churchwide leadership of the ELCA, including the supposed promise that their "bound consciences" will be respected?


To think that an ALC or LCA bishop could make guarantees about the new church before it was even formed suggests a gift of foresight and prophecy that I doubt any of our ecclesiastical leaders really have.
"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]

Charles_Austin

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Re: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation
« Reply #402 on: March 07, 2012, 05:33:38 AM »
Pastor Kimball writes:
Pr. Austin, you're the one who said those who came into the ELCA believing the assurances of their bishops were "stupid" for doing so.  Your lack of understanding and empathy for those who felt betrayed by the gap between assurances received from their bishops and the actual direction taken by ELCA leadership speaks volumes about the difficulties and pressures facing those orthodox-traditional pastors and laity who remain in the ELCA. 
I comment:
Just because one "feels" betrayed does not mean that something dastardly has actually taken place.
     As the merger approached, we had decided that the ELCA would maintain a media relations office in New York City and that I would be the person to staff that office. We laid plans.
     About two months before the merger, plans changed. There would be no New York office and in seven weeks I would be unemployed. This left me scrambling for a regular source of income, which I did not find until almost 11 months later. I survived - on a lesser income than previously - as a freelance writer until the Hearst News Service found me.
     Though what had been promised me by the new ELCA did not happen, I did not consider it a "betrayal," even though the "actual direction" (your words) of the ELCA turned out to be different from what I had been told, with difficult consequences for my own life and my family's well-being.
     So I think I have some sense of what others whose lives are impacted by the ELCA are experiencing.

Pastor Kimball writes:
On what grounds can you encourage or convince them (those "others," I assume) they should trust (and act with trust and support) for the synodical and churchwide leadership of the ELCA, including the supposed promise that their "bound consciences" will be respected?
I comment:
On the grounds that we and our called and elected leaders are all fellow members of the Body of Christ, committed to the mission of the church as we understand it, pledged to bear common burdens, forgive each others sins, and continue in Christian fellowship around our mission and the Lord's table. On the grounds that we are to assume that they are acting in good faith (not, like Pastor Sampson said he assumes, with nefarious intent), and that even if they screw it up; they are not evil manipulators out to get us.
     Talk with your parishioners, if you have people who have been "downsized," or whose jobs were sucked away by a corporate merger, or restructured by a new CEO, or made unnecessary by new technologies. They can help you with this.
     We in the church are not unique, we are not promised lifetime sinecures, we are not promised that everything will work out as we intend or to our personal benefit.

Terry W Culler

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Re: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation
« Reply #403 on: March 07, 2012, 07:05:01 AM »
Nothing seems to show the church at its least appealing as a merger.  I've heard stories about the shenanigans that went on to get the Lutheran Free Church merged into the ALC.  Outright lies, misrepresentations and pastors whose job it was to stir up trouble amongst congregations opposing the merger were just a few of the things that went on.  It makes me feel the LC-MS has the right "take" on that kind of thing.
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Mel Harris

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Re: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation
« Reply #404 on: March 07, 2012, 07:47:49 AM »

Pastor Kimball writes:
On what grounds can you encourage or convince them (those "others," I assume) they should trust (and act with trust and support) for the synodical and churchwide leadership of the ELCA, including the supposed promise that their "bound consciences" will be respected?
I comment:
On the grounds that we and our called and elected leaders are all fellow members of the Body of Christ, committed to the mission of the church as we understand it, pledged to bear common burdens, forgive each others sins, and continue in Christian fellowship around our mission and the Lord's table. On the grounds that we are to assume that they are acting in good faith (not, like Pastor Sampson said he assumes, with nefarious intent), and that even if they screw it up; they are not evil manipulators out to get us.



       Pastor Kimball did not ask about those who are concerned about their future job and financial security.  He asked about those who are concerned that their "bound consciences" may not be respected.  I doubt that many think the leaders of the ELCA are "evil manipulators" intentionally plotting to ruin their lives and their financial futures.  I think some pastors and congregations are concerned that they will not be allowed, let alone encouraged, to carry on with the mission of the church as they understand it, within the ELCA.

       By the way, I was never an English major, but I thought the "them" referred to what was immediately before that sentence in Pastor Kimball's post.


those orthodox-traditional pastors and laity who remain in the ELCA.


       Mel Harris
« Last Edit: March 07, 2012, 08:21:10 AM by Mel Harris »