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

Friday, January 29, 2010

Council Crashers!

Select members from the renegade ELCA group who go under the moniker "Saving Faith" crashed the monthly Church council meeting last night and caused quite a disruption. They would not be respectful of the meetings agenda and only wanted to shout down all who did not cower to their ignorance. They could not conduct themselves in a professional manor and came across as enraged immature heathens. The bone of contention was our recently placed ad in the religious section of the local newspaper.

The ELCA without asking (although we would not have argued)  removed us from the ELCA block of the "Local ELCA" churches ad. Therefore out of our own money paid for an ad that did not include the letters "ELCA" within it and to their chagrins it does contain "LCMC". So this disrespectful group took it upon themselves to force the issue as to who gave the approval and by whose authority? If they would attend church they would have heard as it was announced who was in the "Forward with Faith" taskforce that approved this ad. These members have stopped attending our church months ago and only comes around to cause problems and dissension.  A few show up at our 8 o'clock service to get a head count and a bulletin and after giving our Pastor dirty looks they leave and go to Trinity Lutheran (ELCA) to their ELCA approved and paid for secluded service in the general purpose facility as they wished to be left alone. The ELCA has actually paid for their own Pastor and from my understanding reimburses Trinity Lutheran the payment for the facility use. This group has not attended or given any regular support to our church for months and yet they feel that they can come and disrupt our meetings. Do they not have a conscience and don't they feel guilty for being so disrespectful and hateful in a house of GOD!. They cannot accept loss being in the minority and move on so now we have to tolerate their insolence on a grand scale. We already know that they will attempt to disrupt our annual meeting on this month and try again to shout down all of those who don't side with them even though the vast majority (over 80 percent) of our church does not agree with them.  The ELCA is fully aware of their tactics and condones this disrespectful behavior. When will this stop and when will they accept that by their turning their back on scripture and siding with the ELCA is what is causing the problems they have and we all need to heal and move on.

The ELCA is not following the Bible Published Friday, January 29, 2010


The ELCA is not following the Bible

Published Friday, January 29, 2010
Dear fellow Evangelical Lutheran Church in America members:
I write this to inform you of the actions of the ELCA and the content of their teachings. It saddens me to say that the ELCA is a denomination that is continually following human thinking which go against the Bible and they reject God’s Word in their policies and their teaching.
This is evident in many ways:
The ELCA promotes “universal salvation.” You can find this confirmed on the ELCA Web site and in the notes contained in the Lutheran Study Bible, boldly stating, “Jesus includes in salvation people who do not believe in him or even know about him.” That is not Biblical.
The ELCA encourages homosexuality, despite God’s Word clearly stating that it is a sin and that people should refrain from such behavior.
The ELCA supports all abortions in their medical coverage.
The ELCA teaches that Jesus did not say what the Bible says he said.
The ELCA does not believe there is prophecy in the Bible. God says there is, in hundreds of verses in the Bible.
The ELCA policies and teachings show a denial of God’s authorship of the Bible.
The ELCA takes consistent stands against Israel, and the ELCA is aggressively attacking Christians who are in support of Israel.
The ELCA denies the truth of scripture again, by claiming that the people and stories of the Bible, like Adam and Eve, Noah, Jonah and others, are myths.
(You can read more details at my Web site http://www.exposingtheelca.com.)
The Biblical authors and Jesus himself viewed the scriptures as holy and true. Are we going to take the ELCA’s view over their witness? Should we stay connected to and support a denomination which teaches this way? I say no.
If you agree with me, please consult with your fellow church members and encourage your church to leave the ELCA. If, in the end, your church does not leave, find a new denomination that believes and teaches the truth of God’s word.
Dan Skogen
former Lake Mills, Iowa, resident
Marion, Iowa

Monday, January 25, 2010

What to Do When . . . (John 6:68)

What to Do When . . . (John 6:68)
The 2009 Churchwide Assembly for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America addressed
some very important issues of ELCA church doctrine and policies. Many are concerned as how
best to respond faithfully to possible changes in ELCA policies and practices. They are seeking
guidance for options available to faithful Lutheran Christians. In an effort to assist individuals,
pastors and congregations in their discernment, the WordAlone Network Board of Directors has
developed this document.1 WordAlone offers these considerations, to be taken only after much
deliberation and prayer.
This document addresses factors a person (or family), pastor or congregation might consider
after reviewing the actions taken at the 2009 churchwide assembly.
Response of a layperson
The complexity of this choice depends upon a person's involvement in a congregation and
his/her marital/family status.

A) Response as a single person without children
If the outcomes at the churchwide assembly conflict with one's conscience, seeking
fellowship in another Lutheran church in the area is the easiest option. The availability of
Biblically faithful congregations varies among geographic locations. One choice could be
joining a church in the Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ, www.lcmc.net.
WordAlone encourages you to visit nearby Lutheran churches, attend worship services there
and then speak with the pastor(s) so as to gain a deeper understanding of their theology and
church practices.

B) Response as a family with children
As a couple, each person is vital to choosing a church for faithful worship. It is important
for each to be nourished in their walk with the Lord. Likely they will want to discuss all
aspects of the worship experience, including things such as liturgy, music, worship times
and opportunities for fellowship.
One's involvement in the present church (serving on committees, singing in choir, etc.)
should be considered. Friendships within these congregations will affect responses to
possible changes.
For parents, the needs of children are of special concern. Sunday school, confirmation and
fellowship in youth groups are all factors that require prayerful contemplation. A child's age
and degree of emotional and spiritual maturity as well as connectedness with friends their
own age must be considered. The presence of baptismal sponsors, other family and
supportive friends in the current parish can be significant.
Wherever one decides to worship, consider that church’s programs to see if they are a good
fit for your child's needs. Your baptismal responsibility here cannot be overemphasized.

Response of a pastor
A pastor's response can be far reaching. A pastor's responsibilities to the flock must be
considered. If a pastor believes churchwide assembly decisions preclude remaining in the ELCA,
this must be discussed – first, with the church council, then, with the congregation. Asking
church members to pray for the pastor during this time of deliberation is most appropriate.
Keeping the congregation informed of the theological basis and consequences of the pastor’s
decisions is also important. Because of the critical nature of these issues, if the congregation is
not actively engaged, WordAlone encourages the pastor to help the members become so.

A) Pastor leaves the ELCA and congregation remains
In this case, it is evident that the pastor views the situation differently than the majority of
the church council and congregation. In such a case, the pastor should resign after fully
educating the congregation about the churchwide assembly decisions made, the biblical and
theological ramifications of them and his or her personal thinking that led to his or her
decision to leave the ELCA.
Leaving the ELCA may affect matters such as pastoral pensions, health care plans and other
personal and professional issues, so they should be thoroughly reviewed with the ELCA
Board of Pensions, the synodical bishop/office and an attorney. Typically ELCA pensions
are fully funded and can be rolled into another retirement program. It is appropriate to
cooperate with the synod bishop to effect a proper resignation from the ELCA roster.
A pastor can and should explore joining the clergy of another Lutheran synod. Most of them
have pension and health care plans that can be accessed.

B) Pastor remains in the ELCA, but congregation leaves
A pastor who desires to remain in the ELCA, but is serving a congregation electing to end
its connection with the ELCA, should consult with the synodical bishop. In at least one such
case, the synodical bishop worked with the pastor so that he could transfer his membership
to a nearby ELCA congregation (a constitutional requirement for ELCA pastors) and
supported the pastor to keep serving the congregation leaving the ELCA until the pastor
received a call from an ELCA congregation. It is also possible for an ELCA rostered pastor
to serve a non-ELCA Lutheran congregation with synodical approval. These are a couple
possibilities besides the pastor resigning. See C under "Response of a Congregation."

C) Pastor retires
If a pastor disagrees with churchwide assembly decisions and elects to retire, there is no
need to go through an ELCA separating process since pension and health benefits remain no
matter where a retired pastor worships. Such a pastor could elect to be removed from the
ELCA roster listing.

D) Pastor and congregation leave the ELCA
See B under "Response of a Congregation."
Response of a congregation
A congregation's response will depend largely on how it understands Biblical truth, the details of
policy drafts the ELCA has published and the theological discussions surrounding the drafts. It
will also depend on how well informed the congregation is of churchwide assembly decisions
and their theological and practical implications. Clearly not all members of ELCA congregations
will be satisfied with churchwide assembly decisions. Cottage meetings, congregational meetings
and council meetings can be venues for informing, delineating and determining the future
involvement of a congregation within the ELCA. A church's constitution and bylaws need to be
reviewed to clarify any potential legal issues.

A) Congregation and pastor remain in ELCA
(1) This will likely be the choice of congregations in agreement with the churchwide
assembly decisions.
(2) This may be the choice if a congregation is in disagreement with churchwide assembly
decisions but continues to believe it possible to faithfully remain in the ELCA to
influence future decisions for good. Congregations may achieve helpful influence in
several ways, including:
Pray that ELCA clergy and laity will seriously study God's Word and be open to a
clear understanding of the Church's mission to reach people for Christ and teach
God's revealed truth as applicable for daily living.
Offer orthodox Bible studies on the subject to ensure the laity is fully educated on the
biblical view of sexuality and marriage in our lives.
Become more involved in WordAlone and Lutheran CORE, the coalition for reform,
and be part of a national reform effort.
Reduce financial support of the churchwide organization as a way to “voice”
discontent with churchwide priorities. There are many ways for benevolence dollars
to be redirected in mission for Christ.
Encourage other pastors and councils to be in close communication with synodical
bishops who are sympathetic to concerns about the current mission, ministry and
policies of the ELCA.
Encourage church council members to write letters to "unsympathetic" bishops and
leaders in the ELCA national office to keep them aware of discontent and on-going
concern.
Look beyond the ELCA for resources. WordAlone can be of great assistance with
Sola Publishing, and recommends the Institute of Lutheran Theology for theological
education and ReClaim Resources for worship materials.
Improve the availability of on-going orthodox education in your area by becoming a
teaching center within the Institute of Lutheran Theology.

Join LCMC (Lutheran Churches in Mission for Christ) while remaining in the ELCA.
LCMC is an association of Lutheran churches that can act as a separate church. For
example, they have their own pension plan, health insurance, call process, etc.
However, they have also structured themselves in a way that allows churches to
belong to LCMC without leaving their current denomination. Although many
congregations are taking advantage of this “dual membership” option, the
congregation will need to be prepared for potential resistance from the bishop’s
office. Additional information is available at the LCMC website (www.lcmc.net).

B) Congregation and pastor leave the ELCA
The big questions become: (1) Who owns the church land and building when the
congregation leaves? (2) What affiliation might the newly separated congregation have?
The answer to the first question, in most cases, can be answered simply: The local
congregation does if you transfer to another Lutheran church body. A caveat applies
to ELCA churches having their roots in the Lutheran Church of America prior to the
formation of the ELCA. To effect a break from the ELCA and retain building and
property, such churches must have two consecutive affirmative two-thirds majority votes
of their congregations held 90 days apart. For ELCA churches that once were LCA
churches or were an ELCA mission start-up, there is an additional requirement of
permission from the synod council. This additional requirement has already been
successfully met by some churches. The details of “who owns what” may also involve
the date when your church was founded. These matters need to be fully researched by
legal counsel before decisions are made.
The answer to the second question includes various Lutheran church bodies. In some
cases, Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ (www.lcmc.net) has been the
answer. For others, the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (www.lcms.org), Association of
Free Lutheran Congregations (www.aflc.org), Church of Lutheran Brethren
(www.clba.org), The American Association of Lutheran Churches (www.taalc.org) or the
Evangelical Lutheran Synod (www.evangelicallutheransynod.org) have provided "safe
haven." Each congregation would need to research these possibilities.

C) Congregation leaves ELCA and pastor remains
Though the congregation may prefer to call either a pastor who is not on the ELCA roster or
is in the process of resigning from the ELCA, there are other possibilities for the transition
process. See B under "Response of a pastor."

D) Congregation remains and pastor leaves.
See A under "Response of a pastor."
1 The purpose of this document is not to narrow choices, but to help inform them. As such, WordAlone
provides this document as only one source. WordAlone neither warrants the completeness of these
discussions, nor assumes liability for choices made by individuals, pastors or congregations using the
information provided herein.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

More ELCA heavyhandedness

Brothers and Sisters in Christ.  Grace and mercy to you from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ

     As part of the network that has been following the mischief of the ELCA for a number of years, I am not surprised by the heavyhanded approach of your bishop and synod.  It is my fervent hope that sometime in the future, I will never have to use the titles "Bishop" and "Synod" in the context of our Lutheran churches.  Not only is the synod and national assembly a "top down" organization, there is no consequence to their pronouncements and decisions.  In all meetings and decisions, they diminish the importance of the local congregation.  The only needs they serve in a political sense are their own.  So, when the synod and national assembly make these horrible decisions they face no consequences.  That, unfortunately, is left to us at the local congregation.  We, not they, are left holding the bag to explain to our friends and neighbors how a body can reach such a decision of disconnect that only reflects the views of an "enlightened few."  We are left to try to explain to our friends and neighbors how such a thing could happen. 
     Luther gave as the bible in his common language so that all could benefit from scripture.  Scripture is plain for all to see.  It should not and cannot be bent to assuage common secular desires.  All scripture is holy and unbroken beginning with Moses.  If we allow one pillar of belief to be suspended because some are "uncomfortable" with it, then no pillar of belief is sacrosanct.  We are not secular humanists.  Scripture for us is the map for us to get right with Christ and live our lives as Christian people.
     This last decision by the national assembly for me is the straw that broke the camel's back.  It is not so much the Statement on Human Sexuality.  It was the disconnect and arrogance of those people to have the gall to say they speak for me when they do not. 
     I wish you well on your journey towards removing yourself from the confining arrogance of the ELCA.  Your bishop does not serve you well but in a typically ELCA fashion in trying to prey on the fears of some in your congregation.  Do not demonize your brothers and sisters who want the ELCA.  That only allows Satan to be busy.  Godspeed to all of you.


Timothy Myer
Nipomo, Calif
St. John's Lutheran Church
       

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Singsaas Church quits ELCA

Singsaas Church quits ELCA
Posted: Thursday, Jan 21st, 2010

The Singsaas Lutheran Church of rural Brookings County has decided to drop its affiliation with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. ELCA rules dictate that in order to leave, a congregation must hold two meetings at least 90 days apart. A vote taken at each meeting must pass with at least a two-thirds majority. For the historic "old church in the country" near Lake Hendricks, the process has already been completed , with the first vote held Oct. 18 and second vote Jan. 17.

Singsaas President Trygve Trooien, a lifelong member of the church, said both votes passed with more than a two-thirds majority. The vote was not unanimous , but the church has a policy of not revealing vote totals.

Trooien did not want to comment on specific issues but said a majori-

of members agreed that the ELCA is heading in a direction they don't like.

"We feel that the ELCA is getting more and more liberal all the time and has become an organization we don't care to support or don't care to be a part of any longer."

A statement released by church members noted that the ELCA's viewpoints have drifted apart from Singsaas' .

In August, members of the ELCA's national assembly voted to adopt a statement on sexuality to allow gay people in a committed, monogamous rela- tionship to serve as ELCA clergy .

Hendricks resident Violet Nelson, who serves as church secretary, admitted that was one issue that raised concerns for Singsaas members.

"That's one of the issues, but not the only issue, " because what is this showing our future generation?"

Nelson said another ELCA trend that concerned Singsaas members is the declining amount of resources allocated to global missionaries, as well as the elimination of genderspecific references to God.

"Since ELCA formed in 1988, the total amount of international missionaries decreased by 62 percent, but staff for ministries increased by 16 percent. " Adjusted to inflation, money sent to global missions has fallen by 52 percent," Nelson explained.

The Singsaas country church prides itself on being frugal so more money can be spent on missions.

Nelson also referenced new hymnals purchased by the church about two years ago. The ELCA had eliminated all masculine references to God, such as He, Him and Father. The Singsaas church used the new book briefly but then reverted to older versions.

The press release issued by church members also pointed out that the ELCA has increasingly become involved in political activism rather than core church functions.

Also, members of the small Singsaas congregation noted that much of their time is being spent on ELCA governance issues beyond their control. 135 years old

Singsaas opened its doors in 1874, when a group of Norwegians settled in the area. These first settlers came from Singsas Norway, which is where our church gets its name. The church, located in lake Hendricks Township about one mile from the state border, now serves a congregation of about 75.

While it is physically located in South Dakota, Singsass lists its address as Hendricks, Minn., and has been a member of the Southwestern Minnesota Synod of the ELCA.

The church had been sharing its pastor, the Rev. Duane Baun, with several other congregations , but he cannot serve Singsaas any more. "We had a good relationship with him, enjoyed having him, but ELCA policy says he can't serve a church not affiliated with the ELCA," Trooien said.

Singsaas is now searching for a part-time minister. It will continue to hold services at 10:30 a.m. Sundays.

Trooien invited anyone looking for a place to worship to visit Singsaas. Over the next few weeks, the church will come to a consensus as to what its needs, goals and wishes for the future may be.

The church president said one of those decisions will be whether to join a new Lutheran denomination or affiliation. Members have already talked about several possibilities but have not finalized anything.

Contact Jill Fier at jfier@brookingsregister .com. 

An open letter to Bishop Hanson by Rev. Martha Uecker Nelson, an LCMC pastor


Bishop Hanson,
First, thank you for your Christmas greeting.  I was going through emails & came across your Christmas greeting once again and I was compelled to respond.  I am a pastor of more than twenty years. My husband is also a pastor serving as a senior pastor of a congregation.   I was a graduate of LSTC in 1988, so I had a sense of pride about graduating as the first class of the ELCA.  Bishop Chilstrom was someone who young pastors looked up to as a spiritual leader. 
serve in a hospital setting as a chaplain.  That pride of being a part of the ELCA has long since disappeared. It is not all because of recent (within 10 years) actions but just generally how ill-equipped that bishops and synod staff are at supporting fellow clergy.  This is one of the reasons for the dis-effected feeling among many that has laid the ground work for some of the current situation. 
I would like to expand on the some thoughts, for what it is worth to you. I am sure that others could do a more eloquent job than I, but it comes from the heart & so I feel that I must put to words the thoughts that I have.
I may never hear from you, but the need is to make sure that I do express what God has put into my heart, as well as that of others hearts.  I hope you will take these simple comments to heart yourself and pray & reflect on them.
  
When I read your greeting, I was reminded of the sad state of affairs that the Church finds itself in recently.  I must say that I am truly surprised at your Christmas message of Christ.  You and the ELCA in August voted to basically abandon Christ with your "bound conscience" concept.  Perhaps it has not occurred to you that in the action of deciding that people can now decide for themselves 'what sin is and is not' you have rejected God and you have eliminated a need for the Savior?  You also have eliminated the need for and tied the hands of pastors to be a moral guide for their congregational members.  Perhaps you had not considered the "unintended consequences" of the decisions in August.  You made a statement in your town-hall meeting about being intentional to bring in more members to the church. What you have done is quite the opposite. 

This kind of action of rejecting Christ & errant theology is why many true Lutherans are now leaving the ELCA.
The ELCA had now rendered itself ineffectual & without sound doctrinal content.  It no longer exists as a Church.  I am very sad to see the state of the church that once was. Perhaps it never was what it seemed but now it definately has shown itself not to be a church but a political action arm of  Liberal agendas. I have to ask myself, when is the last time that any of you read the Book of Concord?

During seminary & the years after, I had not realized the extent to which the seminaries were teaching things that go against sound Biblical teachings.  When I was there, LSTC was starting to teach political correctness of situational ethics and the devil was a debatable entity, the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand was an issue.  Professors who were avid defenders of real interpretation of the Old & New Testaments stood strong on their interpretation of homosexuality issues in Scripture.  They now have done a 180 degree turn.  Is that from pressure to comply or be fired? 

More recently, I have learned that the teachings have become incredibly out of tune with sound theology.  This is an undenible fact as we have talked to many seminary students about what they are learning.  They tell us we are "old school" in our thinking.  Thanks be to God that Jesus is "old school".  I would rather be that than incorporate New Age theology any day.

Now, I understand, that we are to believe that there are no miracles, no virgin birth, no walking on the water, no resurrection, Jesus is just one savior among many, the Bible is just one authority- not THE Authority for our lives...I could go on. I had a fellow pastor, who is on Synod staff, say to my face that we can change the 10 Commandments any time we want.  If any of this sounds right to you, then continue on your course.  But if it does not, please wake up to what it true and right.

This summer we were at a family member's church where we heard the pastor preach a sermon that Jesus was just a random carpenter selected by God for the role of the Messiah at the time.  Beyond being shocked, we now have encouraged our family members to leave the ELCA as the teaching is not sound, let alone Christian

Sadly, you and other leaders have put the ELCA into this tail-spin, spiraling downward.  The  question is whether you are going to let it go into a death spiral.  Reading in the Lutheran magazine, there is basically a dismantling of the Churchwide Offices due to budget issues. The reasoning there are budget issues is that you have stepped away from the Gospel, nothing less.  I truly hope that you all will prayerfully look at where the Holy Spirit is guiding.  It is not guiding you on the current path.  It should be becoming quite obvious to you with all the voices saying that this is not where God  guides.  Come back to the Gospel, come back to the Holy Spirit guiding the church.  (2Timothy 4:1-5)

I never thought about being conservative or orthodox in my faith because I thought that we all were that.  How wrong I was.  I am deeply, deeply saddened that the 'devil' or 'evil', or whatever you all call things now, has gotten his foothold with the ELCA.  In the light of  Saint Paul, I admonish you to come back to the True Faith in Christ Jesus our Lord. 

God always provides.  I am thankful to God that there are other options for me and others to follow Him in the Lutheran Tradition.  I am thankful to God that He has opened my eyes to the errant ELCA ways and has lead me to another option for my Christian walk & for my Calling as a pastor.  God is Good!

I pray for you and for the ELCA to come back to the fold of Christianity & of Lutheranism. You have walked away from both for thirty pieces of silver (which in this case is political correctness & a current popular cultural fad).
Sincerely,
Rev. Martha Uecker Nelson, an LCMC pastor

Sunday, January 10, 2010

CHRIST WINS!!!!!

We had our vote today and the results even surprised me 208 for and 78 against, CHRIST WINS!!! Now back to the order of trying to regain normality , till our next vote. CHRIST WINS !!!!AMEN! HALLELUJAH!!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Statistics compiled by the ELCA Office of the Secretary

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Statistics compiled by the ELCA Office of the Secretary
 

Year
Members
Change
%
Congregations
Change
%
1987
5,288,048


11,133


1988
5,251,534
-36,514
-0.69%
11,120
-13
-0.12%
1989
5,238,798
-12,736
-0.24%
11,067
-53
-0.48%
1990
5,240,739
+1,941
0.04%
11,087
+20
0.18%
1991
5,245,177
+4,438
0.08%
11,074
-13
-0.12%
1992
5,234,568
-10,609
-0.20%
11,055
-19
-0.17%
1993
5,212,785
-21,783
-0.42%
11,023
-32
-0.29%
1994
5,199,048
-13,737
-0.26%
10,973
-50
-0.45%
1995
5,190,489
-8,559
-0.16%
10,955
-18
-0.16%
1996
5,187,363
-3,126
-0.06%
10,936
-19
-0.17%
1997
5,185,055
-2,308
-0.04%
10,889
-47
-0.43%
1998
5,178,225
-6,830
-0.13%
10,862
-27
-0.25%
1999
5,149,668
-28,557
-0.55%
10,851
-11
-0.10%
2000
5,125,919
-23,749
-0.46%
10,816 
-35
-0.32%
2001
5,099,877
-26,042
-0.51%
10,766
-50
-0.46%
2002*
5,038,006
-61,871
-1.21%
10,721
-45
-0.42%
2003
4,984,925
-53,081
-1.05%
10,657
-64
-0.60%
2004
4,930,429
-54,496
-1.09%
10,585
-72
-0.68%
2005
4,850,776
-79,653
-1.62%
10,549
-36
-0.34%
2006
4,774,203
-76,573
-1.58%
10,470
-79
-0.75%
2007
4,709,956
-64,247
-1.34%
10,448
-22
-0.21%
* Only congregations existing on December 31 are included in the overall membership statistics. Prior to 2002 all congregations that existed during the course of the previous year were included.



The ELCA released a news report this morning regarding the annual membership census. The data for 2007 shows “a decline in membership of 64,247 and a decrease of 22 congregations from 2006″. As this table shows, membership in the ELCA has been in steady decline since it was created in late 1980s.
Looking at tables is all well and good, but I’m a visual learner, so I decided to make a couple of graphs to put things into perspective. Using the data from the aforementioned table, the first graph shows the total “baptized membership” of the ELCA from 1987 to 2007.

You can clearly see a significant decline in membership over the last twenty years — but keep in mind that in the same time frame the ELCA also lost 685 congregations. If you lose churches, you’re going to be losing members. At the same time, I certainly don’t believe that the 685 fewer churches account for the entire loss of membership during these years.
The second graph shows the yearly change in membership as a bar graph.

The 1990s were up and down in terms of membership, but since 1999 — and even more so since 2002 — the ELCA has been losing lots and lots of members




















Church group says Zion ELCA vote fell short


Church group says Zion ELCA vote fell short
CLEAR LAKE — The Northeastern Iowa Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is disputing Zion Lutheran Church’s vote in December to leave the denomination.

In a news release on Friday Rev. Steven L. Ullestad, bishop of the Northeastern Iowa Synod ELCA, declared that the two-thirds vote needed was not achieved.

The December vote at Zion came in reaction to a resolution adopted by the ELCA Churchwide Assembly in August that would allow gay pastors in a committed relationship to serve congregations.

Prior to that, gay pastors had to commit to being celibate in order to serve.

According to the news release, 366 church members attended and registered during the Dec. 13 meeting, which meant a majority vote of 244 was needed to meet the required two-thirds majority.

Zion members voted 238 to 119 to leave the ELCA, which was exactly two-thirds of the 357 members who voted.

“They must be confused or something,” said Rev. Dean Hess, senior pastor at the Clear Lake church, in response to the allegations. “All of those numbers are wrong. I don’t know where they got those.”

“We reported the numbers that were actually there, so I’m at a loss,” he said.

Church member Randy Reid, who was against leaving the ELCA, said there had been questions about the vote the past several weeks.

“It appears there continues to be a lot of opposition to people who were opposed to leaving the ELCA,” he said. “I’ve heard that they’ve actually confronted people within the church who were supporting the ELCA. It’s been uncomfortable since the elections.”

Carole Roth, church council president, was unavailable for comment Friday night, but was quoted in the news release as saying “We don’t see it (the vote) as invalid. From our standpoint, we don’t see a conflict.”

“We have counted all the votes, and we have a count of the voting members present: 357 voting members present, with 238 affirmative votes, 119 negative,” she is quoted in the news release.

Roth said in the news release she didn’t know where Ullestad got the numbers he cited.

She also said that she expects the congregation’s leaders will discuss the bishop’s letter, which disputes the numbers, next week.

http://www.neiasynod.org/synod_news/CongregationalVotes.asp

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Trinity council responds to our letter


From: R--------E---------
Subject: Response to Your Letter to Trinity
Cc: "Rev L----- C--------" , "Pastor L------ K-----------------"
Date: Tuesday, January 5, 2010, 5:13 PM

The Reverend M---- G---------
Ms. --- F--------
Faith Lutheran Church
1611 41st Street
Moline, IL 61265
 
 
 Following is the text of a letter we are sending to you and your Pastor via US Mail from our Executive Committee:
 
Greetings to you in the Name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

    We received your letter with a sense of sadness, both over recent events that have apparently caused anguish to many at Faith Lutheran Church and over what hopefully is a case of mistaken intent. We do agree with you that the consultation process, regardless of its merits, is solely an issue between the Northern Illinois Synod and Faith Lutheran Church. We at Trinity do not see ourselves as a part of this process. When we were asked by the Northern Illinois Synod to provide space for this process, we agreed with the understanding that we would provide space and not be part of the process.
 
    Trinity Lutheran Church provides meeting space for many groups, including meetings and events of the Northern Illinois Synod. We do not involve ourselves with the agendas for those meetings. In this instance we have agreed to provide a meeting location at our Bishop's request. The issues you presented involve the Northern Illinois Synod Office and Synod Council and not Trinity Lutheran Church.
    Therefore, following a meeting of the Executive Committee of the Council of Trinity Lutheran Church, we decline your request to meet with our Council for precisely the reasons that you state in your letter. To meet with you regarding this matter would involve us in judging the merits of this process, which we agree that we should not do. We continue to pray for your Council, Pastor, Staff, and Congregation now and in the days ahead as fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.
 
Richard E--------------
Council President

Be Strong In The Lord

A tremendous resource from Hosanna Lutheran Church in St.Charles IL.
Thank You Pastor John Nelson

http://nw-lcmc.net/Various/BeStrongInTheLord.pdf

God’s Truth: is it worth fighting for? YES!!!

Important Church Council Action!
The Bishop stated that he will hold a consultation at Trinity Lutheran Church. Until the requirements of the
Faith Lutheran Constitution are met, we can not recognize any consultation process or any interference to
remove our Pastor from his services. This is an unsanctioned and unauthorized consultation.


Youth & Family News For more info, call Vicki, Youth and Family at 309.912.0381 or gehrke@faithela.org.

God’s Truth: is it worth fighting for? YES!!!
Just imagine that you are standing at the crucifixion scene. An angry mob is hollering spiteful accusations at your Lord, falsely accusing Him and putting him down. What would you do? True love and allegiance would rouse itself to walk to the foot of His cross, turn toward the crowd, and with trembling finger pointed upward, toward that blood naked, pulp of a man, and yell out “I’m with Him!” We need Christians who don’t try to match God’s words to their experience, but rather, whose experience is corrected, elevated, altered by the penetrating perfection of God’s Word. How in the world did we ever end up abandoning something so grand, so powerful, and epic as pure Gospel for such a weak and puny version of Christianity?
Martin Luther said, “Unless I am convinced by Scripture and plain reason - I do not accept the authority of the Popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other - my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. God help me. Amen. ”

The Bible...
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness. 2 Timothy 3:16 NIV Every word of God proves true. He is a shield to all who come to him for protection. Proverbs 30:5

Resurrection...And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. I Corinthians 15:14

Salvation...
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6 "I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture John 10:9

Virgin Birth...
Now in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. Luke 1:26-27
This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Matthew 1:18 The Christian Church is in what many call another Reformation; will we follow culture or God’s Truth?
We get to choose what we believe. And what we choose will determine our fate. I choose the Bible, God’s Living Truth.
Vicki Gehrke, Youth & Family Ministries Coordinator

Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus!

Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus!
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Contrary to what you may have been told or read, the issue at Faith is not about Pastor Gehrke, it is about your salvation and your faithfulness to Christ. The issue is not about nor should be about me but rather the drastic changes that the ELCA has made. Will you be aligned with God’s Word or the things of this world? As Peter and the other apostles replied: "We must obey God rather than men!” Acts 5:29-30 NIV
In the past few months I have been surprised to discover just how often the apostle Paul talks against false teachings and doctrines within the church community. (1 Tim 1:3-7; 1 Tim 6:3-5; 1 Tim 4:11-16; Titus 1:8-9; Titus 1:15-16; Titus 2:1-2; 1 Tim 1:8-11; Luke 17:1-4; 2 Tim 4:1-5)
“In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: 2 Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage — with great patience and careful instruction. 3 For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 5 But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.” 2 Timothy 4:1-5 NIV
As God is my witness, I have faithfully discharged the duties of the ministry for the past fourteen years at Faith Lutheran Church, I have preached the Word and taught sound doctrine, even when it was convicting of you and me. Being a Christian is not always easy or comfortable, and ultimately Jesus will be our judge. It has been a wonderful and a challenging experience at times for me and my family. Together with the help of God we have accomplished much, however, this is beyond the brick and mortar issues. Most importantly we have seen lives transformed for the kingdom of God in both youth and adults. So what has changed? I have not changed. I have taught and preached the same Gospel and church doctrines for twenty-five years and now the ELCA wants us to change them. The ELCA has changed and is changing. Two of our members were taught by an ELCA Diakonia teacher that the doctrine of the Trinity is a heresy. In seminary, I was taught by Trgve Skarsten that three things make a church a Christian Church: 1. Belief in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior; 2. Belief in the doctrine of the Trinity; and 3. Belief the Word of God (the Bible) as our sole authority. The ELCA is now teaching (at Wartburg Seminary) that Jesus is just one of the saviors and that every religion has a savior, that the trinity is heresy(mentioned above) , and that the Word of God does not have final
authority over culture (Bishop Mark Hansen). The ELCA through a new theological set of words "bound conscience" is now stating that humans are smarter than God and can decide who is sinning and what sin is and who needs forgiveness.
Do not let the synod convince you that this issue at Faith is about me, for it is about the changes that the ELCA has made. We are not the only church who is upset about this, as others around the country and world are upset too. There are a growing number of churches, theologians, Biblical Scholars, scholars on Luther, pastors, and yes even other Bishops who are also crying foul. And yet the ELCA wants us just
to trust their decisions and move forward like noting has happened. There is something wrong with that picture.
We are being given an opportunity right now to be Christ’s witnesses in a very real way. The days of easy Christianity are over. As it says in that familiar hymn, “Stand up, stand up for Jesus. As soldiers of the cross, lift high his royal banner; it must not suffer loss. From vict’ry unto vict’ry his army he shall lead, till every foe in vanquished and Christ is Lord indeed.” Will you and I stand up for Jesus or will we give in, or worse yet, be non-committal?
As a Christian brother from Tanzania recently wrote me knowing of our struggle at Faith…
Thanks my pastor. We are really into trouble in this world. I don’t know why people want to change the word of God. Reality is reality, be aware of changing the word of God…Blessing of God to be with you. Thanks and God bless you. Glory
to be to the God Amen.
The issue at Faith is not be about me, but instead about the ELCA. The ELCA has made drastic changes which no longer reflect the teaching of our church. This is the true issue. And we should not just accept these changes because the ELCA says it is the new way of doing ministry. We must test everything against Scripture. And when we do, we have firmly concluded that the ELCA no longer has sound doctrine and we can no longer stand with the ELCA.
Stand up, stand up for Jesus!
Pastor Mark

What would Pastor Phil Nelson think?

The following letter was sent by Pastor John Nelson, a son of the congregation. Pastor John
Nelson is the son of the late Pastor Phil Nelson, a former pastor of Faith Lutheran Church
(1969-1981). Pastor John Nelson is pastor of Hosanna Lutheran Church in St. Charles, IL.
What would Pastor Phil Nelson think?
Faith Lutheran Church,
I understand that my father's name has come up in conversation, and with it
my mother's name. I can tell that people are drawing on people, my parents,
who have made a spiritual influence upon them. For this I give thanks that my
parents made as much of a difference in others as they have on me.
It is ridiculous though that people would decide what someone in heaven
would do. Would my father be pro-ELCA even when the ELCA has changed
their doctrine of sin and forgiveness? Would my father be pro-ELCA when
Bishops and Bishop staff members are so cruel and unjust to the very people
that they are called to love and shepherd? Would my father turn the other way
when the ELCA is redrafting Scripture to achieve their own agendas which do
not reflect the will of God?
I do not know what my father would do because he is not here to talk with,
he is living the rewards of grace in heaven. I do know from the many deep
theological conversations that I had with him that the many doctrinal changes
that have taken place would be troubling to him. My father was a systematic
theologian, and I believe that he had the brain power to see through "bound
conscience" and how it affects systematic theology of the Lutheran Church. I
doubt, very much, if he would have liked it.
Many people think, as the ELCA wants you to believe, that the vote in
August had more to do with the homosexuality issue and very little with
doctrine. But the fact of the matter is, it is the reverse.
But I can understand why my mother, looking at the decision from the
homosexuality view, versus the bigger issue, why she would support the
ELCA's decision. She is doing so as a loving mother, as my brother Paul has
decided to live out his life as a person who is gay. Is there compassion in the
ELCA, yes. Is there compassion in the LCMC, yes. Is there grace, yes. And if
one only looks at the ELCA issue from this point of view, then they may be
determined to remain ELCA.
But the real issue at hand is theological and doctrinal.
Hosanna! has gays and lesbians who worship on a regular basis. I am
compassionate to them, caring, and leading. We dare not to not love them. We
(Continued on page 2)
dare not love them and leave them. But Scripture is clear, that we love them and lead them as we do others, as
we all fall short of the glory of God. And Luther is clear about how we know the will of God, it is through the
law. Yes, preach the Gospel, but also direct people with the law. Yes, be compassionate, but also be loving by
directing people in life. Otherwise forget about having Confession and Forgiveness as a part of the worship
service.
Though in bound conscience, people who believe that what they are doing is okay and they believe God
thinks what they are doing is okay, they don't need forgiveness. WHAT! How in the world are we smarter than
God? Bound conscience says that we are.
Bound conscience, a new theological word. Even Luther said that our conscience is sinful. So we are
bonding our sinful decisions over the wisdom of God. This is heavy stuff, and so it seems easier to
argue the homosexuality issue. But it is this heavy stuff that my father and I would discuss. And so you
ask the question, would Pastor Philip Nelson want to stay in the ELCA or not? That is a question we
can ask when we get to heaven and see him there. And if the only thing we look at is the pebble in the
lake, the drop in the bucket of the homosexuality issue from the August decision, there will be many
split hairs over the answer to that as it is an emotional answer due to the relationships that people have
with those whom are homosexual.
As for me and the house where I serve Jesus, we have voted by an 89% to leave the ELCA and a 90% to
join the LCMC because we did not discuss the homosexuality issue, but instead addressed the larger issue and
that is of the changes in doctrines of sin and forgiveness. We do not believe that we are smarter than God and
we refuse to agree with the ELCA who says that we are. We do not see ourselves as gods, we have only the
Lord God. What the ELCA has done is to remove the 1st Commandment. Remember according to our historic
understanding is that we shall have no other gods before our Lord God. Yet, the ELCA has said that it is okay
to be a god when you have bound conscience.
It is a hornets nest that the ELCA vote has gotten us into. Every ELCA congregation now has to vote
whether or not they will follow the ELCA into a new age religion. Just as the rudder determines the direction
and destination of a ship, so does the doctrine determine the same for a church. At Hosanna! we have voted to
remain Lutheran, which meant that we had to leave the ELCA.
I admit there is a sadness in leaving behind something that one thought was so good. But the 21 year
experiment called the ELCA has changed, and we voted to remain the same. Hosanna! has remained the same
in our worship, teaching, outreach, and the like. The only thing that has changed is our church affiliation.
What would my father do? No one knows, not me or even my mother. I believe my mother will stay
ELCA as a gesture of support of my brother Paul. Me, I have left the ELCA because I believe that God is the
Lord God and we are not gods. May God go with you as you discuss this very significant and important issue.
Do not take it lightly. Do not tread on God's grace, but instead live by His laws.
Blessings to you,
Pastor John P. Nelson
Hosanna Lutheran Church

The Bishop’s Consultation


The Bishop’s Consultation
The ELCA Model Constitution for Congregations, under “Powers of the Congregation,” authorizes a church to leave the ELCA “as provided in Chapter 6 [of the constitution]” (C5.03.j).  Churches that desire to remain faithful to the Word of God have every legal and constitutional right to pursue an affiliation apart from the ELCA.
The Model Constitution dictates that congregations need two votes at two separate congregational meetings, each with a 2/3 majority, to accomplish this.  The interim between the two congregational meetings is not to be less than 90 days, during which the synodical bishop may come for a consultation with the congregation (C6.05.).
We have learned that at least two bishops are adding requirements to this process (Metro Chicago and SW Minnesota).  Specifically, they are redefining a “bishop’s consultation” into a “synod’s consultation”, and then using this broadened definition to add a requirement that includes a pro-gay, pro-ELCA panel of pastors and church officials to join in the “consultation”.   It is virtually impossible not to interpret this as a high-handed, authoritarian effort to control and intimidate during the exiting process.  
We are saddened that such tactics should come from people claiming allegiance to our Lord.  We are further saddened that it appears to be a shared and calculated strategy among ELCA bishops.
The Model Constitution requires only a consultation from the bishop, and from no one else:
C6.04. c. The bishop of the synod shall consult with this congregation during a period of at least 90 days.
We encourage every congregation to follow its constitution.  Under no circumstances is any congregation required to submit to added “requirements” beyond the parameters of their constitutions.   Specifically, no congregation is required to permit a panel of ELCA advocates the access to strong-arm your congregation – not constitutionally, not ethically, and not legally.
See also the 12-29-09 post at the “Faithful Transition” blog, http://faithfultransition.blogspot.com/.

Time for ELCA members to take action

Published January 06 2010

Letter: Time for ELCA members to take action

The leadership of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA) turned its back on members of ELCA churches and threatens the very existence of the church by allowing non-celibate pastors in homosexual relationships to be ordained into the ELCA.
By: Bob Lee, Staples, and Former Governor Al Quie, Minnetonka, Worthington Daily Globe

Members, the ELCA has left us.
The leadership of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA) turned its back on members of ELCA churches and threatens the very existence of the church by allowing non-celibate pastors in homosexual relationships to be ordained into the ELCA. The ELCA has acted contrary to “the inspired Word of God — the authoritative source and norm of — proclamation, faith and life” (ELCA Constitution Section 2.03). Most members were caught off-guard when just a few hundred people at the ELCA Churchwide Assembly in Minneapolis made this decision last August.
There were 4.6 million members of ELCA congregations, and those members did not have a voice in this critical decision. In fact, the ELCA Articles of Incorporation (Article VIII) prevent us from voting. “Members of Congregations of the Church shall not, as, such, have any voting rights with respect to this corporation.” Congregations fund the ELCA from members’ offerings, but members have no voice.
The ELCA leadership certainly did not want congregational members voting on this controversial and unprecedented proposal because the vast majority of us would have opposed the decision. Last September, 91 percent of the members surveyed at a congregational meeting of Hosanna! Lutheran Church of Lakeville, one of Minnesota’s largest ELCA congregations, supported separation from the ELCA. Also, the two largest ELCA congregations in North Dakota, Hope Lutheran and First Lutheran of Fargo, voted to stop funding the ELCA.
Not only were the members of the ELCA denied a vote on this controversial proposal, those members do not have the opportunity to directly elect the presiding bishop nor the national church council that theoretically runs the ELCA. No one represents all the laity.
What should ELCA members do? Think about our youth. The ELCA decision is a travesty upon our youth.
Hold a congregational vote on whether the ELCA should permit non-celibate homosexuals to be ordained as pastors.
Stop all funding to the ELCA. Contact Lutheran CORE (Coalition for Renewal) at www.lutherancore.org. It is up to us lay people.

pat e. Worthington, MN     01/06/2010 6:25 AM
In my opinion once a church stops following the scriptures and make up their own rules.....they are no longer a church. I can't speak for Jesus, but I would guess he feels the same way. Love the sinner NOT the sin.

ELCA publisher ends defined benefit pension plan

Published Wednesday, January 06, 2010

ap news
ELCA publisher ends defined benefit pension plan

The Associated Press - MINNEAPOLIS
The publishing house of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is ending a traditional retirement plan for current employees and retirees.
KSTP-TV reports that Augsburg Fortress sent notices to about 500 employees and retirees last week saying it will terminate its defined benefit retirement plan March 5. The company's defined contribution program for current employees, similar to a 401(k), with a company match, is not affected.
The company says as of Dec. 31, the plan's retirement benefit obligations totaled about $24 million. The plan's assets were only about a third of that. If the company kept paying out monthly benefits, the plan would run out of money in five years.
Most people in the plan will receive some type of lump sum payment.
Minneapolis-based Augsburg Fortress blames the money problems on fewer book sales, shrinking ELCA congregations and increasing competition on the Internet but says the main reason was the market downturn in 2008 and 2009.
___