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Congregations vote to leave

Twenty-eight of the ELCA's some 10,200 congregations passed a second and final vote to leave the denomination as of Feb. 4


Twenty-eight of the ELCA's some 10,200 congregations passed a second and final vote to leave the denomination as of Feb. 4. 

PhotodiscThe Office of the Secretary also reported an additional 128 passed a first vote, while first votes in 64 congregations failed. In four congregations the votes are being disputed. Nineteen of the ELCA's 65 synods had no congregations taking votes.

Synods with the most congregations taking votes were: Montana (17), Southwestern Texas (12), East-Central Synod of Wisconsin (11), Southeastern (11), Pacifica (10) and Eastern Washington-Idaho (10).


Comments

Charles Albrecht

Charles Albrecht

Posted at 3:32 pm (U.S. Eastern) 3/2/2010

I would like to hear more comments as to how our current Pastors may continue to preach gospel as their ordination vows say they should do, and then have to agree to same sex marriages as the ELCA says can be.

Molly Sorensen

Molly Sorensen

Posted at 3:46 pm (U.S. Eastern) 3/2/2010

They speak of the small number of congregations leaving BUT what is the actual number of parishioners leaving the church?  Many Pastors/Councils are not even willing to bring a vote to the table.  Let's see some true numbers!

Elaine Melair

Elaine Melair

Posted at 6:44 pm (U.S. Eastern) 3/2/2010

In our hearts we know that same-sex marriage is wrong as is some of the other "new" acceptances now instigated by ELCA.  However, many are loathe to leave the church of their childhood, and the younger ones have been subject to a corrupted world.  Since when have Christians yielded to pressures of a liberal government?  Honesty says politics does, indeed, play a part.  How unfortunate!  Have we forgotten to simply "love the sinner--hate the sin" or do we now have to love the sin as well?

Tom McFadden

Tom McFadden

Posted at 7:29 pm (U.S. Eastern) 3/2/2010

It's unfortunate that the ELCA is losing congregations due to recent votes on human sexuality and the rostering of gay and lesbian clergy.

Were that Scripture were as clear on the matter as some would believe!

My own prayerful consideration, study, and experience with those in the GLBT community tells me that we are ALL in need of God's grace -- no more or less.  My sins are no more forgiveable than those of any other, and I pray at the foot of the cross for His divine guidance and love -- as unearned as it might be.

 

 

Warren Deeds

Warren Deeds

Posted at 12:22 am (U.S. Eastern) 3/2/2010

Are there any stats on people not going to church period in response to this change?

Pastor Cathi Braasch

Pastor Cathi Braasch

Posted at 5:58 pm (U.S. Eastern) 3/3/2010

Beyond the numbers: According to the Constitution of the ELCA 9.62.f: "Notice of termination shall be forwarded by the synodical bishop to the secretary of this church and published in the periodical of this church." (Italics mine.)

Where does one look in The Lutheran for the listing of congregations that have been terminated?  Will that listing include the reason for termination (congregational votes to leave, disciplinary action, disbanding and closure, merger or ???)

Everett Freeman

Everett Freeman

Posted at 11:26 am (U.S. Eastern) 3/4/2010

This is indeed a sad time when congregations are leaving because of disagreements.  I was a Lutheran for 50 years but left  for the United Church who are totally welcoming and went through this same thing 20 years ago.  I find the lyrics from David Haas song we are called very fitting - "Sing! Sing a new song! Sing of that great day when all will be one, God will reign, and we'll walk with each as sisters and brothers united in love! We are called to act with justice, we are called to love tenderly, we are called to serve one another, to walk humbly with God.  May the Spirit of God which leads bring unity and healing and that divisions and walls will be no more. 

Sparky

Web Manager

Web Manager

Posted at 11:58 am (U.S. Eastern) 3/4/2010

Pastor Braasch: In response to your question, The Lutheran will begin printing a quarterly list of congregation withdrawls from the ELCA, beginning with our May issue. We previously ran these lists of withdrawls yearly, but given present circumstances, the list will appear quarterly.

Pastor Cathi Braasch

Pastor Cathi Braasch

Posted at 12:51 pm (U.S. Eastern) 3/4/2010

@webmanager -- Thanks for the quick reply.

Bob Rainis

Bob Rainis

Posted at 2:57 pm (U.S. Eastern) 3/4/2010

It is yet another sign of or sinfullness when we further fracture the Body of Christ. Yet, in faithfulness to the Gospel, schism is  the result. LC-MC congregations have grown, most surely as a result of the CWA, to become the 4th largest Lutheran denomination in the US. CORE will facilitate the newly forming LCNA-Lutheran Church in North America. I fully expect that a Bishop from the Nordic Catholic Church will soon be present in the US, as "evangelical-catholic's" seek a home outside the ELCA.

And what of Jesus' Priestly Prayer to the Father?

"Father , forgive them for they no not what they do".

May GOD have mercy upon His wayward children.   

Kevin

Kevin

Posted at 6:48 am (U.S. Eastern) 3/5/2010

Molly and Warren are absolutely correct, the number of congregations leaving the ELCA is unimportant - what matters is the number of congregants who are leaving the denomination, whether officially or unofficially. 

Folks, it is real simple.  Like the proverbial "forest for the trees" analogy, it is the congregants that constutute the 4.6 million denomination (forest), not the 10,000 or so congregations (trees).   

Knowing this, and knowing that I can't find current numbers regarding the size of the denomination anywhere (actually, I can't find numbers for the past several years), I am now convinced that this data is being suppressed by the higher ups in the ELCA.  Instead of this information, the ELCA presents us with the number of congregations seeking withdrawal.  To me, this is being done for fodder and for diversionary informational purposes.   

I challenge anyone within the ELCA to come forth and talk about the real numbers of importance: (1) the average attendance for worship within the denomination over the past 8 quarters, and the (2) the level of giving by these congregants over those same 8 quarters. 

  

Patricia Shue

Patricia Shue

Posted at 10:22 am (U.S. Eastern) 3/5/2010

Christian Love folks! Jesus taught us to love one another — unconditionally. The pastor is the congregation's spiritual leader, but our personal spirituality is does not hinge on the pastor — or the church. And if it does, why?

Faith first. Let's leave the politics to the politicos. 

Dave

Dave

Posted at 11:22 am (U.S. Eastern) 3/5/2010

Kevin - I'm not sure, but I don't think congregations are required to report attendance figures more than once per year; I know our congregation just sent in our 2009 numbers. So it might be that the most recent attendance information the ELCA could have tabulated would only be through 2008. This would contrast with the information the ELCA has on the number of congregations, which is provided to them more or less in real time. I don't see a reason to suspect a conspiracy when it comes to explaining the time lag in reporting between the two.

Go to the ELCA website and search on "attendance" and you should find 1990-2008 information (though not exactly in the format you want), and 2004-2007 information (more precisely of the sort you are looking for). Average attendance dropped by about 2.5% per year for the 2004-2007 period. Not as current as I know you want, but like I said, it may be a year or two before the ELCA has good data on attendance trends following the 2009 CWA. And even then, there may not be much supplemental info on motivations for why people join or leave.

R. Reimann

R. Reimann

Posted at 1:22 am (U.S. Eastern) 3/7/2010

I would suggest that it is quite possible that the real numbers will be those of us who are voting with our feet.  ELCA Lutherans, who have recently begun to realize what ramifications the CWA 2009 vote means, now will begin the struggle to understand what has happened. 

Personally, I hope that those individuals who place value in the Authority of Scripture and wish not to leave will resist the "vote" and join others who are of like mind and spirit.  For those people who determine they can not stay, I urge you to seek a safe harbor.  Numerous people are presently engaged in creating such a place for wayward Lutherans who hold Christian traditional, orthodox understandings and values. 

Make an effort to become involved, with the faith of a mustard seed, we can move mountains!  Godspeed!

Everett

Everett

Posted at 12:40 pm (U.S. Eastern) 3/8/2010

Could you define what Christian traditional understandings and values are.  Would that include  divource, slavery, women speaking in church, eating shellfish, etc., etc.

Robert

Robert

Posted at 4:39 pm (U.S. Eastern) 3/8/2010

As a supporter of Synod actions, especially the controversial ones of 2009, I'm saddened by the "urge to walk" typified on the majority of letters on these issues.  As for staysitics, yes, a significant number would be that of (1) those leaving an ELCA congregation, (2) those leaving the ELCA,  (3) and those leaving church life altogether.  Of course, the reasons for leaving are varied and not just for theological discontent.  As a result, any data quoted will be suspect if those leaving for the latter reason are feeling alone in their decision.

Bob Rainis, did you mean LCMS and not LC-MC?  Please define you abreviations.  Kevin, I dislike calling your letter conspiracy advocacy but that's what it sounds like and again the data you requested lack meaning for a number of reasons.

Also, meaningful data would be for the number of members tranferreing in to ELCA congragations.  Our small but vibrant congregation (we're in a State with only 17 ELCA congregations) has a plurality of members from other faiths and is contiuning to attract new members, especially disaffacted Roman Catholics.  We'd like to think that we're welcoming, inclusive, and offer great preaching and fellowship.

Please remember, fellow Lutherans, it's far better to run to something rather than just from something.  Are you really missing something essential by leaving a congregation (or church) that doesn't line up 100% with your perception of orthdoxy?  Or is it your fear of association with those (at any level) who may not belive exactly as you do?  Remember, Christ said, "He who is not against us is with us."

Kevin

Kevin

Posted at 5:32 pm (U.S. Eastern) 3/8/2010

Robert,

Sorry to disagree with you, but remember, I'm not the one trumpeting the title "Twenty-eight of the ELCA's some 10,200 congregations passed a second and final vote to leave the denomination as of Feb. 4" - a fact that is far less meaningful than even my simple request. 

For instance, the headline, for all intents and purposes, suggests that only 0.002745 of all ELCA Lutherans are disenchanted with the CWA 2009 decision and are therefore leaving because of it.  Do you believe this? 

We already know that this abnormally small statistic isn't true due to rapid declines in the ELCA's finances - a fact that the ELCA also wants to misleadingly attribute nearly solely to the poor economy.     

So yes, my point is basically anecdotal.  However, I believe my hypothesis could quickly be converted to the scientific simply by surveying the attitudes of those members that have quit attending an ELCA congregation since CWA 2009. 

On this final point, I find it amazing that the ELCA has apparently not surveyed its membership following the CWA 2009 action - something that even basic political campaigns do.  That they haven't just tells me again that they either do not want to know this information or, if they have, that they do not want this information out.   

Just saying..

  

 

Dave N.

Dave N.

Posted at 9:52 am (U.S. Eastern) 3/9/2010

Kevin - it still seems to me that you are being overly suspicious. The results of a survey would be nice, but I think you can give up on the idea that one has been done already. Again that kind of information would be gathered at the congregational level, and for sure no such survey has been passed along to my congregation from churchwide. Nor would conducting one be anywhere near as simple as you say. Again, thinking on the local level where that info would be gathered, how many congregations really keep track of who attends each Sunday? Attendance numbers, yes. Vague ideas of who has or hasn't been around lately, yes. Formal transfers in/out, yes. But identifying the set of individuals in a congregation who have stopped attending since CWA'09 would be problematic for many congregations. And you'd have to do that before conducting any such survey.

Also, I don't think the stats related to congregations leaving the ELCA have been interpreted by anyone as reflecting in any way the percentage of Lutherans who opposed the CWA measures. Nobody in their right mind would. It's one metric of the reaction, and maybe the only available quantitative metric at this point, but I don't believe most people read as much into it as you think they do. I think it's generally understood that most lay people in the ELCA would not want someone in a same-gender relationship as a pastor, with a more even split on the issue of allowing congregations that want to call one to do so, and with the clergy probably being skewed more towards the liberal view.

Maybe these suspicions are grounded in frustration and disbelief that there could be that many faithful, intelligent, Bible-believing Lutherans who support the CWA actions. If so, I guess I'd encourage folks to try and shake that disbelief. It might not change anybody's decisions on whether to stay or go, but it might ease some of the suspicious and rancor along the way.

Everett

Everett

Posted at 10:28 am (U.S. Eastern) 3/11/2010

A quote from Archbishop Desmond, Nobel Peace prize winner- "For me I could never keep quiet.  I came from a situation where for a very long time people were discriminated against, made to suffer for something about which they could do nothing--their ethnicity.  We were made to suffer bedause we were not white.  Then, for a very long time in our church, we didn't ordain women, and we were penalizing a huge section of humanity for something about which they could do nothing- their gender.  And I'm glad that now the church has changed all that.  I'm glad apartheid has ended.  I could not for any part of me be able to keep quiet, because people were being penalized, ostracized, treated as if they were less than human, because of something they could do nothing to change-their sexual orientation.  For me, I can't imagine the Lord that I worship, this Jesus Christ, actually concurring with the persecution of a minority that is already being persecuted.  The Jesus who I worship is a Jesus who was forever on the side of those who were being clobbered, and he got into trouble precisely because of taht.  Our church, the Anglican Church, is experiencing a very, very serious crisis.  It is all to do with human sexuality.  I think God is weeping.  He is weeping that we should be spending so much energy, time, resources ont his subject at a time when the world is aching.



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