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 . Bishop Chilstrom was someone who young pastors looked up to as a spiritual leader.
I 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 ?
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 & 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 , 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 .
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 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 . You have walked away from both for thirty pieces of silver (which in this case is political correctness & a current popular cultural fad).
Rev. Martha Uecker Nelson, an LCMC pastor