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.