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.