Saturday, December 19, 2009
Church group tries moving, saving its faith
It looks like the minority splinter group "Saving Faith" has found a new home. So now as the departed minority there's no reason to try to change the way we "the true church body" has chosen as the majority.
Some of us feel that we should inform those who have left and the others who remain about the potential impact if we "the majority"choose to leave as the splinter group has and if they were to return in our absence. This is not as a story of gloom and doom, but as a reality wakeup call. The following is certain or likely to result:
- no permanent pastor
- no youth pastor
- no Sunday School program for children
- no continuing church leadership
- no Treasurer or Financial Secretary
- no music director
- no 3rd (contemporary) service
- loss of emphasis on the authority of scripture
- 50% or more loss of active members
- 50% or more loss in church income
- very few volunteers to carry our the day-to-day operation and maintenance of the church property
- possible bankrupcy
Posted Online: Dec. 19, 2009, 12:00 am
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By Leon Lagerstam, firstname.lastname@example.org
MOLINE -- A splintered group of Faith Lutheran Church members who want to stay affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America have found temporary shelter at Moline's Trinity Lutheran Church.
Instead of meeting at Faith, 1611 41st St., Moline, the ''Saving Faith'' group will meet in the multi-purpose room at Trinity, 1330 13th St., at Northern Illinois Synod Bishop Gary Wollersheim's request.
Faith recently voted to join a Lutheran Congregations In Missions for Christ association. It wasn't a unanimous decision, and there weren't enough votes to end the ELCA affiliation, except for ending benevolence payments to the national body.
Bishop Wollersheim decided it would best for the group wanting to stay only in the ELCA to meet elsewhere while they decide future plans, according to Trinity pastor the Rev. Larry Conway, and the Rev. Joe Robb, a retired minister and former hospital chaplain who has agreed to lead the group.
Saving Faith members will worship at Trinity at 9:30 a.m. every Sunday, followed by a group discussion about issues they're facing, Rev. Robb said.
They worship at a different place and time than Trinity's congregation to avoid overlapping and confusion, Rev. Conway said. '"We worship on one end of the building, and they're at the other end. 'We worship at 8:30 and 10:45 a.m. until we shift to 9 and 10:30 a.m. on Jan. 24.''
Offering hospitality and space are Trinity's only roles in this agreement, Rev. Conway said.
The synod paid printing and mailing costs for a letter that was sent to Trinity members explaining the agreement to avoid people getting the wrong idea about what's happening, Rev. Conway said.
It's only about giving this group a place to meet temporarily to figure out what they are going to do next, he said. ''It's also only going to be for a limited time.''
Saving Faith members will retain voting rights at Faith in the event other elections get scheduled, Rev. Robb said.
At its first worship service Dec. 6, 59 people attended, he said.
Divisions that have occurred at Faith have been tough on people, Rev. Robb said. ''There's a lot of mixed feelings, and the bishop just thought it would be best for this group to have a chance to talk things out amongst themselves.''
It's not a unique approach, Rev. Conway added. ''It's being done in other parts of the country,'' he said.
As a student of church history, Rev. Conway said he knows such disputes are not uncommon. ''It has happened many times over many years and over many issues, with much the same dynamics. These struggles are sad and tragic, but, I think, clearly indicate our need for God.''