Presiding Bishop Hanson:
"Does this outfit make me look...Roman?"
Dear ELCA Congregation [name omitted, for good reasons]
Since the Church wide Assembly in Minneapolis this past summer, there have been many and varied responses across the ELCA and across the Sierra Pacific Synod to the votes on the Social Statement on Human Sexuality and the implementing resolutions regarding ministry policies.
While some congregations and members have celebrated this change in the ELCA's policies for which they have long advocated, others have registered strong objections and taken action, including members who are moving their membership to other congregations and congregations which are voting to separate from the ELCA. And somewhere in between, there are many congregations and members for whom this has neither been acause for celebration nor a source of concern. There have also been reports from some congregations which are welcoming new members who have come to find out more about the churches of the ELCA in the wake of the Churchwide Assembly.
I ask for your prayers for all of the people and congregations and ministries of the Sierra Pacific Synod as we move through this time. I especially ask your prayers for the leaders and congregational members of the 11 congregations who have decided to enter into a two vote, 90 day consultation process which would end their interdependent relationship with the conference, synodical and churchwide expressions of the ELCA.
Please remember in prayer . . .
* these congregations as they seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit in this important decision for their mission and ministry, especially as the date for their vote approaches.
* the pastors of these congregations who do not wish to leave the ELCA, whose calls will officially terminate if the process to leave the ELCA is approved.
* the members of these congregations who do not wish to see their congregation leave the ELCA, as they consider their options for the future should the vote succeed.
* the pastors and members of these congregations who do wish to leave the ELCA, that they may know it is our desire that other options might be considered.
* the lay leaders, staff and bishops of the synods of the ELCA, and Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson and the staff of the churchwide offices, as they seek to lead our church in this time.
The congregations and the dates for their 1st or 2nd votes are listed below:
Concordia, Kingsburg - 2nd vote - 1/31
Emanuel, Lodi - 1st vote - 1/31
Mt. Zion, Yreka - 1st vote - 2/14
Sierra, Auberry - 2nd vote - 2/28
Gloria Dei, San Jose - 2nd vote - 3/21
Life, Richmond - 2nd vote - 4/11
Chinese, San Francisco - 2nd vote - 4/11
St. John's, Los Banos - 2nd vote - 4/18
Shepherd of the Valley, Galt - 2nd vote - 4/18
In addition to these congregations, Grace, Redway, voted 19-5 to finalize leaving the ELCA on January 3rd, and St. Stephen's, El Dorado Hills, voted but did not reach the required 2/3 majority when they held their first vote last fall.
The Office of the Bishop, partnering with members of the Synod Council and Conference Deans, is currently in a consultation process with all of these congregations as they move through this process. Thank you for your prayerful support of these and all the ministries of our synod.
Lastly, I would ask for your prayers for my ministry as bishop. It is a difficult and challenging task to meet with lay and ordained leaders of our congregations, some whom I have known and worked with for many years and whom I have valued as friends and colleagues, as we find ourselves in very different positions with regard to the actions of the Churchwide Assembly. I am saddened that some of our congregations and pastors may choose to leave the ELCA, but do not feel it is my "job" to talk them out of their intentions, only to reflect Christ as I walk with them through this process, and ensure they will be making a fully informed decision when that time comes. I pray that I have and will continue to do so on behalf of all of you - the sisters and brothers of the Sierra Pacific Synod who are answering the call to share Christ each day in the places where the Spirit leads us.
GJ - From what I have read, the larger congregations are leaving fast. Perhaps the quasi-merger with the Episcopal Church gave them the guts to do whether their brethren and sistern were doing in Anglicanism. Also, like Church and Change in WELS, the ELCA people had many different networks established years ago, with various outgrowths working together.
I left in 1987, before ELCA began, while WELS and Missouri were working feverishly with ELCA on a variety of religious projects, from evangelism to worship.
This blog gives some insight about what has been going on in ELCA since its inception. WELS was very embarrassed that I kept bringing these things up. WELS wanted their insurance loot from Thrivent.
Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Sierra Pacific, ELCA, Tears Itself Apart Over Gay ...":
Don't confuse laughing at a stupid video with following in ELCA's footsteps. I guarantee there isn't a single member of MLC's faculty or student body who condones homosexuality or supports ELCA's decision.
GJ - Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. In 1987, most in the newly formed ELCA would have been shocked at its stance today, but it was already in the works. Franklin C. Fry would not even discuss women's ordination. Robert Marshall, his protege, got that approved about 15 minutes after the funeral service. Baby steps.
The response has not been encouraging. MLC did nothing about it. One of the recent mouthy comments was "You failed to get it removed." In other words, they are too clueless to realize how it makes them, their college, their synod, and the Christian faith look.