ELCA and Zion Dispute Continues - KIMT.com – Iowa & Minnesota Together
WAVERLY, IA - A north Iowa congregation is days away from again deciding whether to separate from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
But the Northeast Iowa Synod Pope 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 His Holiness Ullestad, Pope of the ELCA Northeastern Iowa Synod.
Pope 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 His Infallibilitiness Pope 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 Pope Ullestad.
Pope 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.
Pope 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.
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It's all about the Pope.