Our Exit interview with the Synod, This is from our Church Atty. (Names have been replaced)
One of our Church Leaders and I were at my office Saturday morning when I called up there. On the line were Bishop Wollersheim, 3 of his assistants and 16 members of Synod Council. They started off with a prayer and then by saying that under these circumstances they typically ask us to explain our reasons for leaving for about 15 minutes followed by questions.
We stated that the primary reasons we wanted out have been based upon biblical doctrine and while the human sexuality issues voted on in August highlighted the willingness of the ELCA to depart from sound doctrine, there were certainly more serious issues and the whole thing with the vote in August highlighted the need to get back to the basics of the Bible and away from universalism and other myths that are more pleasing to the ears of non-believers. We talked about accepting Christ as savior as the only path to salvation. We talked about the idea of making disciples of all nations, not telling all nations what they want to hear. We said the need to tell the truth, as Jesus did. There should be no difference between the "official position" and unofficial positions of the ELCA. We need straight talk.
I told them we had no problem with this format of answers there questions so they can vote on whether to approve our leaving and that this was being done for their benefit, based upon their desire under their constitution to close the book on the relationship, and that we under our constitution had already done everything required and no permission from Synod was needed. I told them that the whole idea of insisting that one needs permission to leave is ridiculous and sounds more like the type of rule you would find in the Mafia or a totalitarian dictatorship, and that they probably shouldn't aspire to be like either of these alternatives. This attitude and similar hierarchal issues are further reasons that we have wanted to leave.
We explained that we have had two votes with 73% and 80% wanting out and the 20% that voted to the contrary are for the most part no longer part of our congregation. Even the thought of trying to stand in our way makes no sense at all. I told them that I felt that we had been though some difficult times and that the Synod's support for the Synod Authorized Worshipping Community helped create more division within our congregation. I told them that most of the people on the other side had been in agreement with us on most issues throughout the years, and the ELCA helped to highlight and exacerbate these differences in this process. What happened is that when the people who call themselves "saving faith" walked out on their family in November is many lost respect for their views, since they weren't going to be here anymore anyway. They stated their intent was merely to minister to these people.
I mentioned that most of our members were galvanized on leaving the ELCA when Pastor Clark came in and attacked our leadership in early September.
They asked us about whether there was ever a decision on the issue of our changing the Faith name and I explained that this was voted upon at the first council meeting after the request came in from the saving faith people and the council unanimously voted not to change the name. We are sticking to our traditions and haven't changed our beliefs, our ministries, or our worship services. This name is part of our identity and it belongs to the congregation and has been in place far longer than the ELCA. I told them that I have been a member of several congregations prior to coming here, and I wouldn't think of asking any of them to change their name just because I left.
They thanked us for answering their questions and I told them to call any time, and we then closed with prayer. Feel free to forward this to the other council members or anyone else who needs to know. I don't have all the email addresses here at home.