(RNS) A rural North Dakota church has voted to leave the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, not only to protest its recent policies to allow gay clergy but also its proposed statement on genetically modified foods.
Members of the Anselm Trinity Lutheran Church near Sheldon, N.D., interpreted the ELCA's draft statement as saying farmers who use genetically modified seeds are "pretty much sinners," said church council president Jill Bunn.
The church is located in the Red River Valley, where farmers often use enhanced seeds to help plants resist weed killers.
The 25-4 vote, taken Nov. 7, comes at a time when other churches are leaving the ELCA after it decided last year to permit noncelibate gay clergy and the blessing of same-sex unions.
Bunn said news of the ELCA genetics proposal in a farming publication gave the congregation another reason to depart. "That just added to the gay-lesbian proposal that they passed already," she said.
Bishop Bill Rindy of the ELCA's Eastern North Dakota Synod said he was unaware of any concern the congregation might have had about the proposed genetic statement when it voted to leave the ELCA.
The 63-page draft statement is being developed for consideration at the ELCA Churchwide Assembly next August, but Rindy said it will likely be revised before then.
"If anyone reads the statement for themselves they'll see that it does not condemn genetically engineered seeds and it doesn't make any recommendation on farm management practices," said Roger Willer, the ELCA staff person working with the task force developing the statement.
The North Dakota church has joined the more conservative Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ, which attributes most of its growth to departing ELCA churches.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Posted by oneno at 1:25 PM
Rural church leaves ELCA over gay clergy, genetics proposal
Posted by oneno at 6:17 AM
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
ELCA and Zion Dispute Continues
|Reported by: Shane Delaney|
Last Update: 11/09 8:19 pm
But the Northeast Iowa Synod Bishop says it's not going to count. A final vote by Zion Lutheran in Clear Lake to leave the ELCA failed earlier this summer, but church leaders aren't letting the issue die.
"A am not aware of any other place in the whole ELCA in which a church has intentionally voted to violate their constitution," said the Rev. Steven Ullestad, bishop of the ELCA Northeastern Iowa Synod.
Bishop Ullestad says it doesn't matter what the church decides in its upcoming Sunday vote.
“The constitution allows for congregations to take a first vote, have a consultation, take a second vote. When that vote fails that concludes that process," said Ullestad.
And the vote did fail at Zion, two other times. The process should be over, but since that time church leaders continued moving forward with the disassociation process.
"The constitutional crisis was created when they clearly said they would not follow the police or any policies or procedures of the ELCA," said Ullestad.
After the vote to disassociate failed, Zion leaders decided to associate with another Lutheran branch: The Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ.
"That resolution in which they stated they are now a member of another Lutheran church body in addition to ours is also in violation of the church's constitution," said Ullestad.
Because of those decisions Bishop Ullestad says Zion’s pastors Dean Hess and Derik Yarian are no longer considered ordained ministers.
"They are not to represent themselves as pastor they're not to preside at sacraments or weddings or wear a stole and not use the title of reverend or pastor," said Ullestad.
And even though this whole process has created division within Zion, Bishop Ullestad hopes everything will work out.
"We are committed to them as a congregation and to the members of that congregation and to help bring reconciliation so that together our witness to the world will be, see how those Christians love one another. That's what is at stake for us," said Ullestad.
Bishop Ullestad extended an invitation to Dean Hess to discuss this entire issue in person, but Hess has not responded to that invitation.
Zion Lutheran was contacted today for a comment. Hess said the church will release a statement responding to the bishop's claims later this week.
Bishop Ullestad says Zion Lutheran is still under ELCA leadership and subject to their policies. If they do not follow those policies they could face disciplinary measures and legal repercussions.
Posted by oneno at 6:15 AM