John 3:21

John 3:21
"It is the nature of all hypocrites and false prophets to create a conscience where there is none, and to cause conscience to disappear where it does exist." Martin Luther

Monday, November 30, 2009

Why are they working so hard to accomidate those who reject scripture?

From: Bishop Gary Wollersheim []
Sent: Monday, November 30, 2009 3:19 PM
To: undisclosed-recipients:
Subject: Letter from Bishop Gary Wollersheim

November 30, 2009
Dear West Conference Rostered Leaders:
Grace and peace be unto you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
I am writing to let you know that a group of members from Faith Lutheran Church in Moline will be gathering at Trinity Lutheran in Moline , for worship and conversation beginning Sunday December 6, 2009. We have asked Pastor Joe Robb to convene this group from Faith Lutheran. Trinity Lutheran has graciously offered to provide space and hospitality.
This is the result of a meeting with Faith Lutheran members following the recent “Coffee with the Bishop” held at Trinity. This meeting was attended by about 30 members of Faith Lutheran as well as Synod Council members Bill Bartlett, Karen Dowsett and Assistants to the Bishop Pastors Michel Clark, Kurt Nordby and Jeff Clements . Providing an opportunity for members of Faith to gather, worship, pray and discuss how to address the deep conflicts at Faith Lutheran Church is a part of the Northern Illinois Synod plan to provide support to ELCA members at the time congregations are voting to leave the ELCA (see the attached especially numbers 5 and 7).
Please remember in your prayers Faith Lutheran Church members and Pastor Mark Gehrke , and the group of members from Faith gathering at Trinity along with Pastor Robb.
“Gracious Father, we pray for your holy catholic church. Fill it with all truth and peace. Where it is corrupt, purify it; where it is in error, direct it; where in anything it is amiss, reform it; where it is right, strengthen it; where it is in need, provide for it; where it is divided, reunite it; for the sake of Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord. Amen.”
In Christ,
Bishop Gary Wollersheim



Bishop Gary M. Wollersheim
And the Northern Illinois Synod Council Executive Committee

1. Two congregations of the Northern Illinois Synod have taken first votes to leave the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). One of the congregations failed to achieve the required 2/3; one achieved the 2/3 margin.

2. According to the Office of the Secretary, approximately 90 congregations across the ELCA have taken first votes to leave. Approximately 30 (1/3) of the congregations failed to reach the necessary 2/3 margin. There have been five congregations who have held their second vote in the ELCA; all five achieved the 2/3 margin. There will be many more votes in the next several months.

3. There are groups such as Lutheran CORE (Coalition for Renewal)
and LCMC (Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ) that are recruiting and encouraging congregations to leave the ELCA. They also advocate withholding Mission Support.

4. Our goal as a Synod is to make sure the process of voting to leave the ELCA is fair, and that the members of the congregation have all the information necessary to make an informed decision. There has been much misinformation and false rumors circulating on the internet.

5. Our goal as a Synod is to serve and support the congregational members who wish to stay with the ELCA, no matter what their congregations choose to do. This means we will walk with them during this difficult process, regardless how their congregation votes. The Synod Council will consider the termination of the relationship with the ELCA and also the property ownership rights of each situation separately (see the ELCA Constitutional provisions 9.62.g., 9.62.h., and 9.71.d. found on the ELCA web site at

6. It is important to have representatives of the Synod Council at Congregational Meetings when these votes are taking place. This shows proper respect for the partnership between Congregation, Synod, and Churchwide. Synod representatives also can answer questions about procedure.

7. When a congregation votes, whatever the final outcome, there are no winners. In the two cases in Northern Illinois, the congregations will be divided, and dear friends and families will be in conflict. This leads me to think, that perhaps, there are other ways to express displeasure with the Churchwide Assembly (CWA) decisions such as adopting a resolution that states that the congregation is opposed to the policy decisions and chooses not to implement them. The Synod office has an example of this Statement of Declaration resolution.

8. There have been some positive aspects of the CWA decisions, especially in terms of our Lord’s Great Commission to reach out to all. For example, several gay and lesbian couples have attended this year’s Mission Gatherings and Coffees with the Bishop. I believe this illustrates that some people have seen the decisions as expressions of welcome and hospitality.

9. Some of the fears that were expressed at the time of passage of the Social Statement and four Ministry Proposals have not been realized. For example, we have not been ostracized by our Full Communion Partners: United Methodist Church, Reformed Church in America, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A), The Episcopal Church, United Church of Christ and Moravian Church. The Roman Catholics have not stopped talking to us and neither has The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod (LCMS), although they are not pleased with our decision. The ELCA has not been excluded from the Lutheran World Federation, nor have our Companion Synods in Tanzania and India cut off relationships with the Northern Illinois Synod.

10. Some of the fears that were expressed at the time of passage of the Social Statement and four Ministry Proposals are indeed coming to pass.
Some congregations have chosen to withhold or redirect Mission Support, so that Churchwide has had to cut staff and programs. We have also been adversely affected by the cuts in the Northern Illinois Synod. We have about ten congregations currently withholding Mission Support.
It is important to note however, that the country’s current, challenging economic conditions are a major factor in budget shortfalls as well.
I conclude by reflecting on an image from a story I heard long ago, and it still rings true for us today.* The Lutheran Church is a big old boat. There is room for all who want to come aboard: reformers, evangelicals, traditionalists, land lovers, and all those who are cast away. Yes, the old boat creaks, lists, and leaks. And sometimes, frankly, the rising and falling can literally make one sick. But the old boat is faithful and gets her passengers to where they are supposed to go. Always has. Always will. Thanks be to God. *Adapted from: "On the Church" in J.F. Powers, Wheat That Springeth Green.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Letter: ELCA articles contains misstatements, Bishop says

Letter: ELCA articles contains misstatements, Bishop says

Posted Online: Nov. 08, 2009, 12:00 am
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As one of the 65 bishops of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), I feel it is necessary to clear up some of the misstatements made in recent articles regarding Faith Lutheran Church and the ELCA.

Among many incorrect accusations,. Bruce Dalfonso accused the ELCA of "quietly" updating its Web site claiming the ELCA had made a "change in salvation and hell, and the virgin birth issues."

This item: was part of the "Telling the Lutheran Story" project that was developed years ago. That document was not recently added, does not represent a change in ELCA doctrine, nor does it endorse "deny[ing] Jesus" or "satan worship[ing]."

The ELCA clearly states its beliefs on its Web site and in its Constitution. This church confesses Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and the Gospel as the power of God for the salvation of all who believe. This church accepts the canonical Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments as the inspired Word of God and the authoritative source and norm of its proclamation, faith, and life.

The ELCA's story is both ancient and timely. It's a story of a powerful and patient God who has boundless love for all people of the world, who brings justice for the oppressed. It's a story of Jesus Christ, changing lives. It's a story that brings comfort and strength to people who today live in modern, often unsettling times.

In Christ's peace,

Bishop Gary Wollersheim

Northern Illinois Synod,


Saturday, November 7, 2009

Gaston church breaks with national organization over gay clergy

Gaston church breaks with national organization over gay clergy

November 05, 2009 6:20 PM Diane Turbyfill
Same-sex relationships go against Scripture and morality, according to a letter mailed Monday by members of Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church in Bessemer City.

The congregation recently drafted the letter stating its disdain for a resolution passed by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

“We are writing to express our disappointment with the recent Churchwide Assembly’s approval of the resolution to allow gay and lesbian pastors,” the letter states. “We also disapprove of the resolution to find ways for congregations to recognize same-gender relationships.”

The 2009 Churchwide Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America voted in August to open the ministry of the church to gay and lesbian pastors and other professional workers living in committed relationships.

The action came by a vote of 559-451. The assembly also approved a resolution committing the church to find ways for congregations to “recognize, support and hold publicly accountable life-long, monogamous, same gender relationships,” according to a press release.

The actions changed the church’s policy, which previously allowed people who are gay and lesbian into the ordained ministry only if they remained celibate.

To express its disapproval, the congregation of Grace Evangelical has stopped sending financial contributions to the national organization.

Stopping the contributions could be just the first step for the congregation, according to Interim Pastor Elizabeth Toler.

Toler has served Grace Evangelical for more than a year.

The decision to draft the letter was made by the church’s council, but Toler said the document also expresses her personal opinion.

“It only makes sense to me that if I as a single heterosexual is called to lead a chaste, moral life anyone else is expected to live the same way, regardless of their sexual orientation,” said Toler.

Resolutions causing a stir in the church were approved by the Churchwide Assembly, a group of more than 1,000 members that meets every other year to make decisions for the national organization.

The issue of same-sex relationships in the church last surfaced at the assembly in 2005. Resolutions condoning such behavior were voted down during that gathering, according to Toler.

The 2007 assembly requested the matter be brought up again in August 2009.

Four resolutions were adopted by the assembly. All led to the change in policies that allow a person in a committed relationship to pastor a church, said John Brooks, director of ELCA News Service.

The responses have been a mixed bag, Brooks said.

“Those two documents have been causing some reaction,” said Brooks. “There are many congregations of the church that are very happy with the decisions that have been made.”

Reactions have been plentiful at the Synod Bishop Leonard Bolick’s office in Salisbury, according to spokeswoman Stephanie Grantham.

“People are on different sides of this, and people feel very strongly on both sides,” she said.

The regional office is choosing not to take a stance, but rather to try to support congregations and the national organization, Grantham said.

“We support the congregations in North Carolina and the ELCA,” she said. “We know we will get through this staying in conversations with one another and praying together.”

The Evangelical Lutheran Church has been in existence for 21 years, according to Brooks, and all member churches of the ELCA are expected to contribute to the organization. Brooks did not know the repercussions for ending those donations.

The decisions made in regards to same-sex pastors were not made hastily, he added.

“There have been people pushing for change in ministry policy,” said Brooks. “This is a long, long standing effort by people who felt the policy was discriminatory.”

About 30 people attend Grace Evangelical each week. Twenty-nine of them signed the letter speaking out against the recent resolutions.

Discussion of what to do next is under way, Toler said.

There has been talk of separating from the national organization, but that has not been finalized.

The local church intends to use other Lutheran material for Sunday school instruction beginning in January. Continuing to use materials from the ELCA could expose children to a change in morals, Toler said.

“At this time we are studying what we should do,” she said. “We feel that the authority of the Scripture of the Bible has been challenged by our national church organization.”

Brooks pointed out that congregations have the ultimate say on who they choose to lead their church. The new resolutions don’t change that freedom, he said.

But members of Grace Evangelical feel the change in policy points away from principle beliefs handed down through Scripture.

“As we understand these resolutions, they seem to contradict the ELCA’s previous policies on homosexuality,” the letter states. “The previous policy was, we firmly believe, based on Scripture and should not have been overturned.”

You can reach Diane Turbyfill at 704-869-1817.

Central Lutheran to vote on ELCA stand

Central Lutheran to vote on ELCA stand Friday, 06 November 2009
by Bob Grawey Staff writer
Three weeks ago the Rev. Paul Johansson of Central Lutheran Church said he has no comment as to where his church stood on the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America’s (ELCA) vote to allow gay clergy who were in committed same-sex relationships. Sunday, Nov. 8, that will change.
According to parishioner John Froelich, the church will vote this Sunday on whether or not to leave the ELCA. But Froelich contends the outcome will be illegal since the church did not follow Robert’s Rules on Conduct which is part of Central’s own constitution.

Froelich contends that in four separate church forums to discuss the issue of gay clergy, parishioners did not have ample time for discussion. “The (pastoral) staff spoke for over an hour in the forum I was at, and we only got three minutes each,” Froelich says. “After three minutes they turned the microphone off on me.” Froelich, who holds a Ph.D and conducts a lot of research, is angered that church leadership has not allowed what he considers open discussion.

He adds that three minutes is long enough to voice an opinion, but not nearly long enough to build an argument for or against something.Johansson has been specific, according to Froelich, in his sermons to the congregation that the ELCA had violated biblical scripture in allowing gay clergy that are in same-sex, committed relationships.In response, the academician, who disagrees with Johansson, has gathered arguments on the issue of gay clergy from other academics and scholars on both sides of the issue. He has built a Web site around these arguments and is hoping it will give people a chance to research the issue for themselves before Sunday’s vote.

Froelich is part of a group of 40 to 100 people who want to keep Central Lutheran from leaving the ELCA. He does admit, though, that he has bias in favor of the ELCA’s decision to allow gay clergy in his denomination. Documents supporting gay clergy and documents against it are 60-to-40 on his Web site. In addition, he says it is easier to access information that supports the ELCA vote. One click opens a pro-ELCA vote for gay clergy, while it takes two clicks to another Web site to access material that speaks against such a vote.Both sides of the argument are fairly accessible, though, and the site has been getting an average of 75 visitors a day since it first got up and running two weeks ago.

A bishop from the Minneapolis Synod was denied the opportunity to address the Central congregation. However, it is unclear if such a move was viewed as a strong-arm tactic by the synod, or if it was simply a chance to explain further why the ELCA made the decision to accept openly gay clergy.

Whatever the outcome of Sunday’s vote, the path for Central Lutheran may get a bit unsteady if a resolution cannot be found in an issue that seems to divide a church staff and its congregation.

Friday, November 6, 2009

November 5'th letter from Gary Wollersheim

It's frightening to read this as you then realize how out of touch they truly are. I don't think they have anything credible listed here. I don't think their informer supplied them with anything factual and of course they chose not to validate any of this with our Pastor or church leadership and just "went with it" for nothing less than a scare tactic.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

If they think we have it wrong, then they should state things more clearly on their website or better yet, make at least one of their written documents more understandable to the common man! All of their slick non offensive universal wording and ambiguous statements intended to lure the unchurched has came back to haunt them. They are giving us a very favorable slant in the paper and 90% of the comments on the online version are very favorable. The ELCA has enough Churches, they can surely let God have this one.

Friends in the West and Southwest Conferences,
Grace and peace.
I am writing because I would imagine that the recent articles in The Dispatch and The Rock Island Argus are driving you crazy and are causing you more headaches with some of your people. Please know that I am keeping you in my prayers, and that we are working on these issues through Pastor Clark, Pastor Nordby and Conference Dean Pastor Conway. I am grateful for the good statements made by Kai Swanson and Larry Conway in the newspaper.
As you know, the information cited by Mr. Dalfanso completely misrepresents any official position or doctrine of the ELCA. He is referring to something written by Carl Braaten years ago designed to underscore the power of God’s grace. (Please see the attached.) As I remember Professor Braaten, he would be one of the last theologians to deny the virgin birth, hell, and salvation through Jesus Christ.
Maybe this would be a good opportunity to get out the Constitution(s) of the Church and go through it with the Congregational Council or the adult Sunday School class. I think you might find especially helpful: the confession of faith, the nature of the church, and the statement of purpose. Look to the Synod web site under resources if you can’t find your
If you are moved to write an editorial to the newspaper, I would encourage you to do so. Local feedback helps. Please be careful not to be defensive or overly crabby. I have written a brief response, it probably won’t be published.
You may have heard that Faith Lutheran Church in Moline held a congregational vote November 1 to leave the ELCA. The vote failed. However, votes to join LCMC and discontinue Mission Support both passed. The latter two votes should have been ruled out of order, but they were allowed to proceed. Also, St. Matthew in Galena held a vote to leave the ELCA. That also failed.
During the Bishop’s Hour at this year’s PLC, I gave “Ten Reflections on Leadership During Stressful Times.” They are attached, perhaps they might be helpful.
Please don’t hesitate to telephone me or any Synod staff member if you need anything or just to talk.
Thank you for your faithfulness, service and leadership.
In Christ,
Bishop Gary Wollersheim

Rev. Dr. Gary M. Wollersheim
Northern Illinois Synod
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
103 West State Street
Rockford , IL 61101
(815) 964-9934

ELCA will not allow synods to maintain traditional standards

ELCA will not allow synods to maintain traditional standards
Lutheran Core ^ | November 02, 2009 | David Baer
Posted on Tue Nov 03 2009 12:01:33 GMT-0600 (Central Standard Time) by rhema

ELCA synods will not have the option of upholding traditional Christian teaching on marriage and homosexuality in their standards for pastors and other rostered leaders according to a draft of candidacy rules released Oct. 10 by the ELCA churchwide organization.

No synod or bishop may make decisions on ministry standards that differ from the new policies of the ELCA churchwide organization as defined by the 2009 Churchwide Assembly, the policy draft explains. The ELCA now allows pastors and other rostered leaders to be in committed same-sex relationships.

“By the governing documents, all candidacy and call decisions are made on an individual basis, thus no body can make a blanket statement of approval or disapproval for a group of candidates. Nor can a body alter the policies which this church has accepted. However, a decision making body may express its general understanding of what will best serve the mission of Christ in the places and times for which they have decision making responsibility. No body can restrict the authority given to another by the governing documents. Thus, for example, a synod council cannot bind a synod call committee nor can a synod bind its congregations, but any of these entities may express convictions and preferences to the others,” the draft states.

The only option for a synod candidacy committee that wishes to uphold traditional standards for sexuality is to transfer a candidate to another ELCA synod. “There is local option on same-sex blessings — no congregation is to be forced to perform them (that is what the Assembly adopted; we will have to see how it develops). But ordination policy as proposed is, so far as I can see, tolerance as long as one does not obstruct. A synod could urge partnered gay and lesbian candidates to go somewhere else, but it could not outright refuse them,” the Rev. Dr. Michael Root of Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary wrote on the “Lutherans Persisting” blog.

The proposed standards suggest that those who believe in biblical standards for sexuality resign from synod candidacy committees: “Individuals who have a share in discernment and decision-making responsibility need to decide whether they can function in that role under the new policies.”

Professor Root and those participating in the discussion at Lutherans Persisting have traced the way the decisions on allowing pastors and other rostered leaders to be in same-sex relationships were transformed from the local option proposed by the Sexuality Task Force to indisputable change in ELCA policy by the ELCA Church Council.