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/.