Thursday, January 7, 2010

So, Why Haven't We Left SOTH Yet?

Even though Sandy and I felt that the Lord was leading us away from SOTH, we felt obligated to be present and available for any questions at the constitutional amendment proposal question and answer sessions, special, and annual meetings. During these Q & A sessions something unexpected happened. A door that had been previously closed had begun to reopen, ever so slightly. The path to an alternative to the ELCA had again become an option.

In the December 27th meeting, we discovered that, although the possibility of affiliating with a synod other than the ELCA existed, no equitable alternative was forthcoming. Pastor said that the current alternatives seemed to be populated by bickering factions and that being part of one of these negative organizations was just not acceptable. Pastor also said he felt called to be a faithful witness within the ELCA.

Then on January 3rd, it was recommended that SOTH continue researching the current alternatives of Lutheran Core and LCMC, since both are in the early stages of creating more structured, synod type organizations. Pastor also agreed that SOTH could consider joining one of these organizations, while remaining in the ELCA and allowing him to remain a rostered ELCA pastor. SOTH currently belongs to the Willow Creek Association, which is a conservative group of churches that are well grounded in Scripture. Sometimes the Holy Spirit moves in ways that are inexplicable. Because a valid opportunity is open again to assist SOTH to move forward and search for a synod that truly embraces the Gospel, we realize that the Lord does have a plan for us at SOTH, at the very least for us to help lead in this regard.

I plan to maintain this blog and post information regarding the progress of the synodical relations task force and to additionally pass on information about Lutheran Core, LCMC and any other alternatives to the ELCA. Please add your comments to the blog so as to keep the lines of communication open and to encourage others to participate and share their thoughts and concerns.

Most of all, I want to emphasize how important it is that we have a quorum present to vote on the constitutional amendments on January 17th. Without a quorum, we will be forced to postpone voting on the amendments until January of 2011. This could mean that SOTH may not be able to protect itself from the ELCA's new policies. The ELCA will put into force the resolutions that were passed in August 2009, and it will likely become more difficult to change our constitution to reflect SOTH's beliefs. Make certain that you plan on attending after the 10:30 service that day and bring at least one other voting member with you. The ratification vote for the constitution is at the annual meeting on January 31st. Please plan on attending this important meeting. Email reminders will be sent to all SOTH members on our mailing list.

For those of you were not able to attend the Q & A sessions, the following is a brief recap.

Regarding the constitution, a few clerical typos were found and corrected and the council will attend to those at their January 12th meeting. If ratified, we will be in a holding pattern waiting for the ELCA Greater Milwaukee Synod's review and reaction to the amendments.

A number of questions were posed regarding the ELCA. Pastor said that he cannot see himself personally leaving the ELCA in 2010. SOTH could consider affiliations with LCMC or Lutheran Core while Pastor remains rostered in the ELCA. It was recommended that SOTH continue to investigate alternatives to ELCA and that the Synodical Relations Committee increase in size and scope. More emphasis will be placed on informing the congregation and formulating a plan of action. We learned that currently, SOTH uses very little literature from the ELCA. All Sunday School and confirmation materials are either obtained from other sources or compiled by staff. SOTH is listed in the phone book as Lutheran, our affiliation with the ELCA is not on our sign and although it is stated on our website, it is not on our home page. It appears that those attending the meeting all agreed that Pastor teaches the true Gospel and that the ELCA promotes a false doctrine, and that the ELCA's position is unacceptable, or at least very troubling for many congregants. Comments were made that there is a stigma attached to belonging to the ELCA and that members of SOTH are considered guilty by association.

Beginning in February, Pastor, members of the task force, and council will meet with SOTH small groups for more Q & A sessions, looking to ascertain the pulse of the congregation. More informational meetings will be scheduled. I would encourage all members of SOTH to attend.


  1. I believe it was answered prayers of the wonderful people at SOTH that the situation changed to allow us to remain at SOTH longer. How it got to this point, still baffles me.

    Starting with the SOTH Labor day meeting where Pastor brought clarity and understanding to what was happening, and then the Lutheran CORE meeting where I saw this as something that Don and I could do to serve God and SOTH together and I immediately invested my heart and energy to serving God in this way. But then the December whirlwind began.

    A furry of emotions and misunderstandings regarding leaving the ELCA. We were willing to stick with it for as long as it took. Lutheran Core advised to not go too fast or it would result in division in the church. And if there was a question, it could have been easily clarifid by asking. I don't know the reason for the rollercoaster of emotions that was both painful and emotionally draining. One thing I do know is that God is actively working in and through SOTH. How is he in this situation?

    Our motives have been to preserve SOTH as a place where the true gospel is preached - not for me, not for now, I already have it, but we were concerned for future generations, after Pastor Jay is gone, in the same way we are supporting the building of that church building - for future generations to worship and serve God.

    When that door was closed to ever leaving the ELCA I cried out to God...I thought we were serving you! I was grieving my church and In my heart God asked me if it was the church that I loved or HIM. It is The Lord God Who I Worship and Love! SOTH isn't the only place to know, serve and worship God. I may have been putting too much into the relationships and my involvement in the church and needed to concentrate more on GOD. I have gotten the opportunity to refocus my loyalties.

    The other thing I had to overcome was what people said about me/us. What can I learn from this? God's power is sufficient and I need to give this to Him to handle it. If I am always concerned about what others think and say, could that be a form of pride? God knows my heart and my motives and that is all that matters. I need to forgive, let it go and continue to serve God. The fear of losing friends or losing face is the work of the devil.

    And as far as my prayer for Don and I having an opportunity to bind together as we serve God together - that has happened through this. Look at this blog. Don has grown so very much. God uses adversity to strengthen. When you fight for what is true and you spend time in God's word and examine what you believe, deeper roots form to stand firm on what you believe. What a blessing. And The faith conversations that Don and I have had together and with friends continue to bless us both.

    I feel bad that we all had to go through this, but God is at work in us and in the people of this congregation. His will be done. Now that the door to look at alternatives to the ELCA has reopened, I am open to continue to serve God in this congregation, and I hope to continue to be connected with CORE and Augustana District and communicate progress back to SOTH. I am also going to step back and wait for God to invite me to serve where he wants me to be placed. I am not going to put all my eggs in the SOTH basket until I am sure that is where God wants us to stay. I am going to spend more time to read and listen and less time doing right now. And at this time if we can help others understand and grow in their faith walk through this blog and this situation, we will rejoice. God is Good all the Time. He is always faithful.

  2. So often, in my daily bible readings, I'm struck by how God is talking to me about SOTH and the ELCA. This week I was reading in my commentary something that I just have to share.

    We're in Judges and we just finished hearing about the battle lead by Deborah and Barak. In Judges 5 they are singing praises to God for leading them through this battle. Judges 5:15,16 says,

    "The princes of Issachar were with Deborah; yes, Issachar was with Barak, rushing after him into the valley, In the districts of Reuben there was much searching of heart. Why did you stay by the campfires to hear the whistling for the flocks? In the districts of Reuben there was much searching of heart"

    Of this, my commentary says;

    "Reuben didn't get involved. He stayed in the sheepfold, where it was safe. Why? Because he gave it a lot of thought.

    The "paralysis of analysis" is a dangerous, yet common problem today. "Should I witness to him, or not," we ask. "Should I go there, or not? Should I be kind to that person, or not?" And we find ourselves becoming introspective to the place where, like Reuben, we do nothing. Reuben debated so long that he missed the entire battle.

    Could this happen to you or me? Absolutely. God says, "I want you to do this, to experience that, to have victory here, to gain spoil there." But we sit back and analyze-and thereby miss what He has for us. Be like Ephraim, Benjamin, Manasseh, Zebulun, and Issachar. Get involved. Get engaged. Be part of what the Lord is doing as He wages war against sin and does battle for the souls of men."

    Thank you, Don, for starting this blog. I encourage everyone to use it to make comments or ask questions and keep the lines of commnication open.

  3. It has been 15 months since the August vote, 11 months since our church rejected us for speaking up. December 2009 was so painful, I can't tell you. I grieved. We had to find other churches to just worship God out of our pain. We were committed to see the constitution changes through and so continued to come to meetings. During a meeting a shift in position occurred that allowed us to fight for our church. We were restricted from being involved. Another task force was formed and Don was invited to participate and he has. We continue to worship faithfully. Although we withdrew our 2010 financial commitment, we continue to give it consistently. We continue to lead and participate in bible studies and small groups and I continue to sing. BUT, we continue to feel like outcasts due to our speaking out. I have stopped evangelizing the church, and it has permanently damaged some precious relationships.

    I heard recently that someone from the council said the ELCA can't be that bad, if we came back. Let me be perfectly clear - we came back to fight for our Lord, to save the people in our church. We will not stay if there is no vote or if the vote is to remain in the ELCA - we will be gone to serve the Lord in a faithful congregation. Until that time, we continue to fight the good fight of faith and pray for our congregation, our pastor and for those we have been able to help through this blog. To God be the Glory.

    1. My husband and I are going through this right now as being part of a group of six that has tried to educate our congregation on all the changes within the ELCA that in the past years. We we guilty in the past of having our heads in the sand and failed to give attention to these changes as they were happening. Our education process for the congregation has reached almost everyone. It will soon be time for each of us to decide what we believe and if the ELCA is in line with our beliefs. Our pastor is totally against us so it has been a hard task. Yes, it is painful. We have been shunned and made felt guilty for bringing these items to light.

      We are trusting that God will put us where He wants us to continue our ministry to him. We will continue to stand in defense of His Word whether it be at our current congregation or another. We are giving the results of our January 12th vote to the Lord. Please pray for us as we go through this process.

    2. We will pray for you. If there is anything we can do to help contact me via my email, With God anything is possible, but His will be done. Sometimes, even with our best intentions, we lose sight of this. In our circumstance, we needed to let go of what we wanted (to save "our" church) and accept what He wanted for us (to serve Him). When we accept His plan for us is when we finally let go of ourselves and submit to His will. Whatever result is part of God's plan for you. He will lead you to where you need to be.

  4. I haven't been following the whole conversation, but wanted to say something. My husband and I left our church (St. Paul, in Winlock, Washington)in a hurry after the
    vote. We went to a LCMS church nearby for a year. We did not join, but got involved in a small
    worship band. About six months ago I felt a nudging to go back to our church by the Holy Spirit. Did nothing until Oct. 2 a friend from St. Paul asked me to come to the church retreat in two weeks and play my saxophone with them at the retreat. We went. The next sunday I went to church to test the waters, but not without asking the Lord for a sign that I am to be there because He wants me there. The sign came. The current pastor is leaving for another call on Nov. 21. He announced his resignation the day
    I went back. Now, to make a long story short. On Nov. 1 as I was praying for various members of St.
    Paul I believe the Lord spoke to me and said: "I am about to do a new thing." Our current president of the council wants to bring Lutheran Core into our congregation for informational meetings. He want to get out of the ELCA. I believe this to be part of the "new thing" the Lord is doing. Teaching us to Pray and
    Educate others about what has really happened to our church. Could you pray for us. Thank you.

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