February 19, 2010
Churchwide organization responds to Lutheran CORE announcement
The churchwide organization of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America said it "will continue to respond to those congregations with questions or concerns" related to the actions of the 2009 ELCA Churchwide Assembly, adding it is "committed to ongoing conversation" with those congregations.
The comments were part of a Feb. 18 statement from the ELCA churchwide organization following an announcement from the Lutheran Coalition for Renewal (CORE). CORE announced its proposal for "the reconfiguration of Lutheranism in North America," in a Feb. 18 news release.
"The ELCA is a church focused on a vibrant Christ-centered mission and ministry," the ELCA churchwide organization's statement said. "It carries out its mission through the daily vocations of its 4.6 million members, the ministries of its 10,239 congregations, through response to disasters such as the earthquake in Haiti, and through deep commitments to global and ecumenical partners throughout the world."
"As the ELCA carries out the directives of the 2009 Churchwide Assembly, we continue to encourage congregations, synods and the churchwide organization to remain in conversation about these matters," the statement said. The churchwide organization statement said it regretted the decisions "of a few congregations" to leave the ELCA.
Lutheran CORE's proposal calls for the continuation of the organization as "a community of confessing Lutherans" and for the formation of a new Lutheran church body, the North American Lutheran Church (NALC).
CORE's Sept. 25-26, 2009 convocation in Fishers, Ind., asked that a proposal for the "reconfiguration of North American Lutheranism" be prepared and brought to CORE's 2010 Convocation Aug. 26-27 in Columbus, Ohio, CORE's news release said.
"The proposal released Feb. 18 is a response to that request. It was released now so that Lutheran CORE members can provide input to aid in drafting the proposals that will be considered by the 2010 Convocation," the CORE release said.
CORE's announcement is a response to the decisions of the 2009 ELCA Churchwide Assembly. The assembly created the possibility for Lutherans in committed, lifelong, monogamous and publicly accountable same-gender relationships to serve as ELCA clergy and professional lay leaders. It also adopted a social statement on human sexuality.
The 2010 ELCA Yearbook reports that there are 10,239 congregations in the ELCA. As of Feb. 4 the ELCA Office of the Secretary reported that 220 congregations had taken initial votes to terminate their relationship with the ELCA. Sixty-four of those congregations failed to achieve the required two-thirds vote to continue in the process. Through Feb. 4, 28 congregations had taken a second vote. The Office of the Secretary confirmed that seven congregations have officially left the ELCA.