When our pastor was asked if he would rule out ever leaving the ELCA,(Evangelical Lutheran Church of America) he responded by saying that of course he could not rule out ever leaving the ELCA. He further qualified his answer by stating that, if a "middle of the road" synod that was true to the Bible would emerge, he would consider a move at that time. What he did not say speaks volumes. All of the churches that have split from the ELCA and created new church bodies and those that are currently in the early formitive stages are all "conservative", thereby not meeting his criteria for consideration.
In fact, "middle of the road" or moderate Lutherans are why the ELCA faces its current crisis. Moderates that abandoned their principals and discarded their beliefs to "form a consensus" is exactly how the ELCA has entered this slippery slope of rejecting our core beliefs. In a effort to be more accommodating and welcoming to the LGTB (Lesbian, Gay, Transgender, Bisexual) interest groups, the ELCA has formulated a way around Scripture. By inventing "bound conscience" the ELCA has opened a "Pandora's Box" to circumvent God's word, making it unacceptable to simply receive LGTB persons as fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, but forces members to accept their behavior as no longer sinful in God's eyes.
This "bound conscience" will also allow for opportunities to circumvent God's will in other matters that may not follow the modern and enlightened social standards of today, but that are specifically addressed in Scripture. The Bible is God's word, without error and true in its entirety, even as it pertains to those modern, more enlightened "middle of the road" Lutherans of today.
Shepherd of the Hills belongs to the ELCA denomination, because as a member, the ELCA has the responsibility to articulate our identity, help us maintain integrity and accountability, for shared ministry and mission, and to provide approved pastors. In regards to integrity and accountability, the ELCA is charged to maintain standards for its church members to follow. The ELCA is to safeguard our church's doctrine, that which we believe and profess. They are to enforce discipline against those that teach false doctrine and to guard the historic and orthodox Christian faith. The ELCA has betrayed it own incorporating documents and historic teaching. The ELCA does not enforce discipline against heresy, the ELCA promotes and embraces heretical teaching. The ELCA is no longer accountable to the majority of its members or the word of God and therefore lacks any integrity to remain a valid denomination of the Lutheran Church Body.
Our pastor taught us that "bound conscience" is not grounded in Scripture, but in personal convictions that are raised up above God's word. The ELCA believes and teaches their seminary students, that the Bible is a book of faith, written by mortals, and although inspired by the Holy Spirit, was written for the people of that time and not always pertinent to today's society. If a person has experience that they truly feel contradicts Scripture, then they can set aside Scripture and use their own personal opinion as authority. This does not properly represent our identities as Lutherans nor does it promote true Christian beliefs.
Sandy and I have tried to be faithful servants to the Lord and have worked to investigate alternatives to the false doctrine that has infiltrated the ELCA. As Lutherans and devoted Christians, we cannot be allied with a synod that disregards Scripture and votes to declare God's word invalid. At SOTH our pastor continues to preach and teach the true Gospel. He is well grounded in traditional orthodox Lutheran doctrine. As long as he continues as the spiritual leader of SOTH, the true Gospel will be promoted. If and when the Spirit calls him to another ministry, SOTH will be at the mercy of the ELCA.
As long as leaving the ELCA remained an option, no matter how slight the chance may be or how long it may take, we were determined to continue to do God's work at SOTH. Now that it is clear that leaving is no longer an option, we have no choice but to leave. It is with a heavy heart that we will be leaving the people we love at SOTH, but sometimes when the Lord closes one door, another is opened with new opportunities to serve him.
We will continue to pray that our family at SOTH continues to grow in the Lord and that God will protect you from the sinful path that the ELCA is taking. We pray that the hearts and minds of all are opened and that the ELCA will turn back to God. Failing that, our prayer is that God leads SOTH to a new church body grounded in the true Spirit.
Yours in Christ,
Don and Sandy Kriefall