Friday, January 15, 2010

Where is God leading SOTH?

The original purpose of this blog was to use it as a venue to say our good byes to our family at SOTH and inform everyone of the reasons why we would no longer be worshipping with you. I, myself have had quite a transformation spiritually, under Pastor's tutelage. For years I had attended church relatively regularly, but spent very little time in God's word outside of church services. I know this frustrated Sandy, who continued to pray for and encourage me. Pastor reached out to a number of our members to help prepare them to become leaders of the church. Pastor must have seen something in me that I didn't, but I agreed to attend the leadership bible study group. Spending time reading and meditating on Scripture has really opened my eyes as to what the Lord expects of his people. Having Pastor as a mentor to help us understand God's word more clearly has truly been a blessing.

When Jodi, Pastor and I attended the ELCA Greater Milwaukee Synod Assembly as delegates in 2008, I couldn't believe what was happening. It started out as one would expect with a gathering of fellow Lutherans, but deteriorated rapidly. First, the opening worship service was conducted without confession and absolution. This made the service seem empty for me, a sinner that needs to confess my sins to God and hear that He has forgiven me. Later, when discussing the various proposed resolutions, I found out first hand that the primary focus for our synod was one of social justice, not bringing people to Christ. When I went to speak in opposition to a resolution that would have had our synod advocating in direct opposition to the rule of law in our country, I was looked upon as an outcast. Other delegates were offended that I would speak out to oppose our synod disregarding the laws of the land. Votes were cast on the various resolutions and on most of them our 3 votes were the only ones in opposition. Again, my eyes were opened and I seriously began to question our affiliation with a synod that conducts God's business in this fashion.

Shortly after the Assembly, Pastor shared a DVD with a number of members about LCMC. This was offered up as a possible alternative to our affiliation with the ELCA. The train to leave the ELCA began at this point with a small grassroots discussion of the LCMC. All was quiet for a while, until August of 2009, when the ELCA national assembly passed a number of resolutions. Bound conscience was not even on our radar screens. At one of our leadership meetings with Pastor we discussed the ramifications of bound conscience. It was quite enlightening. In one fell swoop, the ELCA had voted to allow anyone to pick and chose which parts of Scripture were valid, if only what they truly believed was contrary to what the Bible said.

So, many of the new leaders that Pastor was instructing began to communicate with one another and question what the ELCA was doing and that we needed to be at the forefront of discussion. This brought us to the Labor Day meeting that, although put together on short notice, attracted over 50 congregants that stayed at a meeting that lasted well over 2 hours. Many questions were asked and many were very troubled as to the direction of the ELCA. Pastor asked for volunteers to attend the Lutheran Core Convocation in Indianapolis, IN at the end of September. Sandy and I attended the convocation with Pastor Jay.

Shortly after attending the Lutheran Core Convocation, Pastor set up, what became known as the "Synodical relations task force", with Sandy and I as co-chairs. Other members included 2 council members and 3 other congregants. We were to gather facts and report back to the council. First order of business was to update our constitution, incorporate and later file as an independent tax exempt entity. This needed to be completed immediately, and be presented to the congregation so it would be possible to ratify the new constitution at the annual meeting. It was important to attend to this prior to the ELCA incorporating the new resolutions in April/May 2010.

The task force continued to gather information. Sandy and I attended the initial organizational meeting of the Augustana District of LCMC in Minneapolis, MN in November and a Lutheran Core organizational district meeting in Lebanon, WI in November. Reports were prepared and shared with the other task force members.

This blog will continue to be an important venue for discussion and source of information as SOTH prayerfully considers where God is leading us. Any opinions, for or against leaving the ELCA are welcomed. As we try to discern God's plan for SOTH, we need to keep the lines of communication open. We can differ on our opinions of the ELCA without losing sight of the path that God has set before us. We need to look to the future and not lose sight of where God needs us to be today and tomorrow.

We will need to continue to pray for the ELCA, that God will open their hearts and minds so they reconsider the path that they are taking and the consequences that path will have on those congregations that continue to belong to the ELCA.

We ask this in Jesus' name.

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