In the ELCA, the face of organized
disagreement with denominational policies and perceptions of the church
includes groups that describe themselves and their congregations as
holding to the authority of Scripture and, well ... those that say the
same but from the opposite end of the theological spectrum.
of such movements as the WordAlone Network and Lutherans
Concerned/North America describe themselves as agreeing with Martin
Luther that Scripture is the cradle that holds the Christ child. Yet
while the former wants the ELCA to hold to tradition, the latter calls
for change. In both groups some stay and some leave the ELCA, whether
by choice or a decision of the larger church body. Who are these
groups? Why do some stay and some leave?
White (left), a pastor of Trinity Lutheran, Columbus, Neb., said the
congregation left the ELCA because of a variety of concerns, not “any
one issue.” White is pictured here with (front row, left) Kay Ferris,
Pastor Doug Zurek, Sue Zurek; (back row, left) Cindy White, Jennifer
Uhlig and Mike Drinnin. All are staff except Drinnin, who was council
president at the time of the vote. |
2005, Trinity Lutheran Church, Columbus, Neb., took two separate votes
and consulted the Nebraska Synod bishop before leaving the ELCA. Since
then, the 2,000-member congregation hasn’t looked back, two of its
leaders say. A small group of members who wanted to stay in the ELCA
formed Hope Lutheran Church, a new mission in Columbus. (Their story is
coming in August.)
Trinity had already joined Lutheran
Congregations in Mission in Christ in 2002. Formed by leaders of the
church reform movement WordAlone Network, LCMC provides an alternative
church body for some congregations unhappy with the ELCA.
20 congregations with 14,116 members who withdrew from the ELCA in
2005, 11 are affiliated with LCMC, said ELCA Secretary Lowell Almen.
Other congregations joined the Association of Free Lutheran Churches,
Fellowship of Confessing Lutheran Churches, American Association of
Lutheran Churches and Alliance of Renewal Churches.
period of years, our leadership was aware of an undercurrent of
controversial issues within the ELCA,” said Tim White, a pastor of
Trinity who also left the ELCA clergy roster. He attributed the
departure to several issues, including: Called to Common Mission
, the full communion agreement between the ELCA and the Episcopal Church; the sexuality studies; and the ELCA’s advocacy work.
called CCM “a waste of the church’s time ... not critical to church
unity,” and dismissed the bylaw that allows some exceptions to the
historic episcopate as “a Band-Aid.” (The historic episcopate is a
succession of bishops as a sign of unity back to the earliest days of
the Christian church.)
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