Clergy and lay people who oppose the 1999 Churchwide Assembly's approval of Called to Common Mission organized 45 regional meetings to discuss and find strategies to address their concerns. At October events, participants listened to speakers who oppose the full communion agreement with the Episcopal Church, then discussed ways to respond to the document.
Participants proposed such possible actions as continuing dialogue, rescinding CCM, holding back synod benevolence, forming a nongeographic confessing synod, joining or forming a different Lutheran church body and withdrawing their congregations from the ELCA.
"This discussion may be good for the church," Paul Spohn, a retired ELCA pastor, told 125 clergy and lay people who attended an Oct. 17 meeting at Alsace Lutheran Church, Reading, Pa.
At an Oct. 23 gathering of 110 people at Emmanuel Lutheran Church, Tacoma, Wash., several expressed concerns, including Gary Jepsen, pastor of Calvary Lutheran Church, Federal Way, Wash. Jepsen said Lutheran confessional statements had been glossed over in order to get along with Episcopalians.
Charles Bailey, pastor of All Saints Lutheran Church, Auburn, Wash., said he was dismayed that he wasn't alert to political maneuvering behind acceptance of the document.
"The fact that nearly one-third of the voting members of the Denver assembly voted against this document demonstrates that this issue should have continuing attention within the ELCA," said Kip Tyler, a pastor of Lutheran Church of the Master, Omaha, Neb., at an Oct. 30 gathering hosted by the congregation.
The Omaha gathering, which drew 196 people, "indicated the need for an educational process," said John Chatelain, an attorney who organized the event. Rachel Sund, a lay member who said she was there to seek answers, agreed: "I need more clarification about what all this means."
Nebraska Synod Bishop Richard Jessen, who supports CCM, attended the Omaha gathering. "Members of the church have a right to dissent and we all have the responsibility to listen carefully to them," Jessen said.
© 2014 Augsburg Fortress, Publishers