Author Topic: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation  (Read 94186 times)

MaddogLutheran

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Re: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation
« Reply #1065 on: May 01, 2013, 05:34:40 PM »
I comment:
Now I am going to make a statement; and then comment on the statement, so be patient and wait for the whole package.
   When a group of people, so possessive of "their" church, attempt to steal that church away from the ELCA, resort to trickery and deception and illegal actions to do so, thereby forcing the true, loyal members of that church to go to court and save what is - in the sight of God and the law - rightfully theirs; there is no possible way to see the action of those who tried to take that church out of the ELCA as anything but raw selfishness and utter disregard for the rest of the congregation, the synod and the ELCA; and there is indeed a"bright side" to when the true and loyal members of the congregation triumph....
I won't wait for the rest of your statement, because the first part is patently untrue.  Please stop repeating these untruths, particularly what I have bolded.  The vote to leave the ELCA failed, and the controlling leadership never acted as if it succeeded, they only decided to dual affiliate, WHICH DID NOT REMOVE THE CONGREGATION FROM THE ELCA.  Please stop slandering them.  If those "true and loyal members" of the ELCA were actually that, they would not have demoted their fellow members to "associate" status, in violation of our governing documents.  Unless you can show me where in any relevant governing documents such a thing is permitted, and/or exactly how "loyalty" is divined.

I'll repeat it again:  the dual affiliation that was attempted did NOT take this congregation out of the ELCA, as has been subsequently confirmed by the court.  And I note that the reason the ELCA loyalists were demoted to associate status themselves was because they had left to form a new congregation.  That the synod countenanced this and then subsequently backed their continued full membership in Grace was in violation of our governing documents--but I'll agree that it is disgusting when people resort to trickery and deception to keep possession of "their" church.  I'm just not talking about the same people you are when I say that.

I comment:
There are times when even the ELCA's most persistent and ill-informed critic should simply hide his head in shame for posting such vicious diatribes against fellow members of the church to which he belongs, even though he "belongs" simply because he hasn't the guts, energy or integrity to go anywhere else.
Irony, thy name is Austin.  George isn't the one who should be ashamed here.  >:(

Sterling Spatz

« Last Edit: May 01, 2013, 05:37:09 PM by MaddogLutheran »
Sterling Spatz
ELCA pew-sitter

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation
« Reply #1066 on: May 01, 2013, 05:38:22 PM »
I comment:
Now I am going to make a statement; and then comment on the statement, so be patient and wait for the whole package.
   When a group of people, so possessive of "their" church, attempt to steal that church away from the ELCA, resort to trickery and deception and illegal actions to do so, thereby forcing the true, loyal members of that church to go to court and save what is - in the sight of God and the law - rightfully theirs; there is no possible way to see the action of those who tried to take that church out of the ELCA as anything but raw selfishness and utter disregard for the rest of the congregation, the synod and the ELCA; and there is indeed a"bright side" to when the true and loyal members of the congregation triumph....
I won't wait for the rest of your statement, because the first part is patently untrue.  Please stop repeating these untruths, particularly what I have bolded.  The vote to leave the ELCA failed, and the controlling leadership never acted as if it succeeded, they only decided to dual affiliate, WHICH DID NOT REMOVE THE CONGREGATION FROM THE ELCA.  Please stop slandering them.  If those "true and loyal members" of the ELCA were actually that, they would not have demoted their fellow members to "associate" status, in violation of our governing documents.  Unless you can show me where in any relevant governing documents such a thing is permitted, and/or exactly how "loyalty" is divined.

I'll repeat it again:  the dual affiliation that was attempted did NOT take this congregation out of the ELCA, as has been subsequently confirmed by the court.  And I note that the reason the ELCA loyalists were demoted to associate status themselves was because they had left to form a new congregation.  That the synod countenanced this and then subsequently backed their continued full membership in Grace was in violation of our governing documents--but I'll agree that it is disgusting when people resort to trickery and deception to keep possession of "their" church.  I'm just not talking about the same people you are when I say that.

You most definitely should have waited and read the rest of his statement where he admits that what he wrote is "nonsense and foolish."
« Last Edit: May 01, 2013, 05:41:13 PM by Brian Stoffregen »
"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]

Coach-Rev

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Re: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation
« Reply #1067 on: May 01, 2013, 05:39:02 PM »
   Here is a brief summary of what has happened so far.  Offer a correction if you think any of this is not accurate.

[the middle block removed in consideration of space...]


       I doubt that many think this is good for the reputation of that synod or the ELCA.

                     Mel Harris

That pretty much sums it up. 

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation
« Reply #1068 on: May 01, 2013, 05:44:39 PM »
   Here is a brief summary of what has happened so far.  Offer a correction if you think any of this is not accurate.

[the middle block removed in consideration of space...]


       I doubt that many think this is good for the reputation of that synod or the ELCA.

                     Mel Harris

That pretty much sums it up.


I doubt that existence of LCMC and NALC and LCMS and WELS and ELCA and all the smaller Lutheran bodies is good for the reputation of Lutherans or Christians.


I just finished my "notes" on John 17:20-26. I wonder, what would the church look like if God fulfilled Jesus' prayer that all his followers be united as the Son is one with the Father? How much more effective would our witness be to an unbelieving world?
"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]

Coach-Rev

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Re: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation
« Reply #1069 on: May 01, 2013, 05:48:00 PM »
You most definitely should have waited and read the rest of his statement where he admits that what he wrote is "nonsense and foolish."

Except that the only problem here is that if you flip the entire thing around, it is exactly what happened:

"When a group of people, so possessive of "their" church, attempt to force their minority will to remain ONLY in the ELCA, resort to trickery and deception and illegal actions to do so, thereby forcing the true, loyal members of that church to go to court and defend themselves for what is - in the sight of God and the law - rightfully and constitutionally theirs; there is no possible way to see the action of those who tried to force that church to remain solely in the ELCA as anything but raw selfishness and utter disregard for the rest of the congregation, the synod and the ELCA."

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation
« Reply #1070 on: May 01, 2013, 05:51:51 PM »
You most definitely should have waited and read the rest of his statement where he admits that what he wrote is "nonsense and foolish."

Except that the only problem here is that if you flip the entire thing around, it is exactly what happened:

"When a group of people, so possessive of "their" church, attempt to force their minority will to remain ONLY in the ELCA, resort to trickery and deception and illegal actions to do so, thereby forcing the true, loyal members of that church to go to court and defend themselves for what is - in the sight of God and the law - rightfully and constitutionally theirs; there is no possible way to see the action of those who tried to force that church to remain solely in the ELCA as anything but raw selfishness and utter disregard for the rest of the congregation, the synod and the ELCA."


However, within the structure of the ELCA - the Synod as "church" has some legal rights to congregational properties. The members who are loyal to the Synod and ELCA have some rights - even as a minority; they supersedes those of the disloyal (to the ELCA) majority. Congregations in the ELCA are not autonomous. They cannot do whatever they want to do. (Well, they can, but there can be consequences.) The courts in this, and in a few other cases that I have heard of, have sided with the synods.


The way you are defining true and loyal is not the way that the courts have defined them.
« Last Edit: May 01, 2013, 05:54:19 PM by Brian Stoffregen »
"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]

Coach-Rev

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Re: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation
« Reply #1071 on: May 01, 2013, 05:53:32 PM »
and as I asked you before, do you agree that this is the proper way to handle the issue - having the courts involved?

Charles_Austin

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Re: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation
« Reply #1072 on: May 01, 2013, 05:55:28 PM »
Must be a full moon. Or the Gdummy Gnome has dumped sawdust in the brains of too many folks here.
My point, Mr. Spatz and others, was that were I to make a statement about the selfishness, greed, illegal shenanigans and other fooferaw of one side of that sorry case in Eau Claire; the anti-ELCA types would pounce, denounce and deride me for my lack of compassion and misreading of the facts.
But.... But... But.... when Mr. Erdner posts his calumnies, slanders and wolfish slobberings about the "other side," they just lay there without challenge, unless I take the onerous task of saying how foolish and ignorant those comments are.
That was my point.
The fact that at every step of the way the courts have decided in favor of those who want to stay in the ELCA and the Synod is another matter.

Charles_Austin

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Re: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation
« Reply #1073 on: May 01, 2013, 05:57:07 PM »
Pastor Cottingham writes:
and as I asked you before, do you agree that this is the proper way to handle the issue - having the courts involved?

I comment:
Sometimes, sadly, yes, it is the proper way. When other methods have failed.

Gary Hatcher

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Re: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation
« Reply #1074 on: May 01, 2013, 05:58:19 PM »
The synod decided that those who had continued to attend services at Grace Lutheran had been disloyal to the ELCA and had to be moved from the list of voting members to the list of associate members, and that the keys to the property of Grace Lutheran had to be handed over to the members of Amazing Grace Lutheran.  quoted from Mel Harris' post

If this is accurate, by what authority does the synod act to remove members of a congregation from membership of that congregation?
Gary Hatcher STS,
Pastor St. Paul & First Lutheran Churches
Garnavillo & McGregor, IA

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation
« Reply #1075 on: May 01, 2013, 06:03:12 PM »
and as I asked you before, do you agree that this is the proper way to handle the issue - having the courts involved?


No, but I also have not seen a need for any ELCA congregation to leave the ELCA. Any congregation and pastor can continue to do what they have been doing from 1988 to 2009 after 2009.


I also believe, and have seen it happen, that if a congregation feels the need to leave, they can work with the synod (rather than against them,) to make sure all their "ducks are in the proper row" for them to leave. I know that our bishop and synod staff have helped congregations and pastors leave peacefully. I also have seen some anger at congregations who tried to skirt the proper process they agreed to as part of the ELCA. Our bishops are to respect the bound consciences of our pastors and congregations. (I'm not saying that all have done that as well as they should have.) Most often, I strongly suspect, they fail to do that when pastors and congregations show little to no respect for the bishop, the synod office, the ELCA, or the legal process we have in place. The two largest congregations in our synod left - and did so peacefully. I know that one of them worked with the synod for a peaceful transition from ELCA to independent Lutheran. The synod did not try to take their sizable property, even though they went independent rather than join another Lutheran body - and that had been worked out prior to a vote to leave.
"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]

Coach-Rev

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Re: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation
« Reply #1076 on: May 01, 2013, 06:07:48 PM »
I also believe, and have seen it happen, that if a congregation feels the need to leave, they can work with the synod (rather than against them,) to make sure all their "ducks are in the proper row" for them to leave. I know that our bishop and synod staff have helped congregations and pastors leave peacefully.

I wish that would be uniform throughout the ELCA.  Far too often it is not, where synods, synod councils, and Bishops actually actively work against the process.

Pastor Ken Kimball

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Re: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation
« Reply #1077 on: May 01, 2013, 06:21:08 PM »
   Here is a brief summary of what has happened so far.  Offer a correction if you think any of this is not accurate.

[the middle block removed in consideration of space...]


       I doubt that many think this is good for the reputation of that synod or the ELCA.

                     Mel Harris

That pretty much sums it up.


I doubt that existence of LCMC and NALC and LCMS and WELS and ELCA and all the smaller Lutheran bodies is good for the reputation of Lutherans or Christians.


I just finished my "notes" on John 17:20-26. I wonder, what would the church look like if God fulfilled Jesus' prayer that all his followers be united as the Son is one with the Father? How much more effective would our witness be to an unbelieving world?

Addressing your statement which I bolded: assuming that you are the ultimate arbiter then of which prayers God has fulfilled and which He has not, might I cautiously suggest that if the ELCA truly respected this prayer of our Lord's that it would not have acted in such an arbitrary and solitary fashion as it did by its decisions at the 2009 CWA?  How were those sectarian decisions and actions respectful of the unity of the whole Church?

George Erdner

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Re: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation
« Reply #1078 on: May 01, 2013, 06:28:39 PM »
I have found that when I post something that is genuinely wrong, as I sometimes do, there is no shortage of people who will offer correction. When I post something that is correct but that offends a bitter curmudgeon who lives in New Jersey, no one but him "corrects" me.
« Last Edit: May 01, 2013, 06:46:01 PM by George Erdner »

James_Gale

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Re: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation
« Reply #1079 on: May 01, 2013, 07:17:52 PM »
The synod decided that those who had continued to attend services at Grace Lutheran had been disloyal to the ELCA and had to be moved from the list of voting members to the list of associate members, and that the keys to the property of Grace Lutheran had to be handed over to the members of Amazing Grace Lutheran.  quoted from Mel Harris' post

If this is accurate, by what authority does the synod act to remove members of a congregation from membership of that congregation?

If you are looking for a constitutional grant of authority, you won't find one.

So why did the judge rule as she did?  Courts can apply "neutral principles of law" in deciding disputes between members of a church body when the decision doesn't touch on religious principles.  However, judges are very concerned that they will cross into religious principles. Thus, more often than not, judges will do what they can to avoid deciding litigation between members of a church body. Instead, they try to decide who in the dispute has the right to decide the matter and will enforce the decision of that party. The courts generally have recognized two models -- the congregational (e.g., the Baptists) and the hierarchical (e.g., the Catholics). If a church body is congregational, judges will enforce the congregation's position. If it is hierarchical, the court will enforce the church body's position (or in a case like this, the synod's). It doesn't matter if the position of the congregation or church body lines up with the governing documents. The party empowered to enforce its position (the congregation or church body) can do almost whatever it wants.

So what is the ELCA, congregational or hierarchical?  Arguably, it is neither. It is, to use ELCA-speak an interdependent church composed of three expressions of church -- church wide, synodical, and congregational.  What is a judge to make of this complicated structure? 

A congregation might well argue that governance structure is not a doctrinal matter within Lutheranism and that the judge therefore should feel free to dive into the governing documents and to apply them according to their plain meaning. Some judges might just accept this invitation. Frankly, I think that they should. But as we've seen, some judges, especially Catholic judges, just aren't comfortable with this. Not when the governing documents plainly give synods at least some authority over congregations. And the ELCA is willing in court to characterize itself, not as interdependent, but as hierarchical. Once the ELCA or a synod makes and wins this argument, the language of the governing documents means nothing. The synod has absolute power to do whatever it pleases.