One is often judged, fairly or unfairly, by the company they keep. Hang with someone who is a thief and it may be assumed that you are also a thief. Affiliate with an organization and those values espoused by that organization are assumed to be yours. Fair or not, it is what it is. While our Lord and Savior hung around with those judged not acceptable by society, He came to heal their spiritual shortcomings. Jesus healed the sick, both physically and spiritually. So, when Jesus sat down with prostitutes and tax collectors, He did so to heal their hearts and lead them back to righteousness. Unfortunately, in this new enlightened age, the leaders of the ELCA conspire with the world and enlist the law to enforce their idea of justice.
The leadership of Grace Lutheran Church in Eau Claire, Wisconsin was troubled by the doctrinal shifts of the ELCA. Discerning their role in a denomination that no longer held fast to traditional Lutheran doctrine, they chose to allow their congregation to decide if they wanted to remain affiliated with the ELCA. Their first vote passed, but the second failed to reach the required two thirds majority. After the vote, the leadership of Grace decided to affiliate jointly with the LCMC and ELCA, since the majority of the congregation had voted to leave the ELCA. Now, the plot thickens. About 70 disgruntled ELCA supporters left Grace and began to do whatever they could to disrupt the congregation that they once worshipped with. Anonymous complaints made against a council member at their place of employment. An unauthorized Facebook page purporting to be the official Grace Lutheran worship community was set up announcing that worship services would no longer be held at the church. Some would call this persistent troublemaking, but the all welcoming, all inclusive and tolerant ELCA not only allowed this behavior, they encouraged it.
Out of a few angry congregants, "Amazing Grace" was born and dubbed the “synodically authorized worship community”, to be led by none other than Bishop Duane Peterson, himself embroiled in a messy divorce. Now the ELCA specifically and strongly recommends that clergy involved in divorce refrain from ministering to congregations, since they may be negatively affected by the stress and proceedings of their divorce. Not this champion of the ELCA. Peterson filled the void in his life by leading the small break away congregation out into the world of legal proceedings. Not satisfied with the daunting task of beginning a new mission church, Peterson, the "Amazing Grace" malcontents, and the ELCA decided to take Grace to court. New territory here, but as you know, the ELCA has been claiming to be hearing God saying all kinds of new things, so they deem it is best to avail themselves of worldly laws and to use them against the people of God in spiritual matters.
The first court proceeding ordered Grace to end its affiliation with LCMC, of which Grace complied. The ever forgiving ELCA then decided to judge the pastors at Grace harshly, and removed them from the ELCA roster. It gets even more convoluted. The final court proceeding ordered the leadership of Grace to step down, turn over the keys and assets to the 70 malcontents, and removed the other 1700 members, (no, this is not a typo) from the active membership roll, making them associate members with no voting rights. Judge Molly GaleWyrick, one of the lowest rated judges in the state of Wisconsin, presided over one of the most illogical judgments ever rendered in a Wisconsin court. To make matters even worse, an appellate court refused to issue a stay, giving the ELCA free rein to dispose of the ample assets of Grace. Justice is truly blind and in this case, the best friend of the court was none other than the evil one himself.
Now, this case mirrors another instance of the un-evenhandedness of the ELCA. Although many ELCA churches are dual affiliated, only a few are challenged by the ELCA and not allowed to leave. Some are allowed to dual affiliate, others are removed from the ELCA roster as discipline for violating the ELCA constitution, such as St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in Marion, IA. St. Peter Lutheran Church in Fort Pierce, FL, like Grace Lutheran, had ample assets, with property holdings worth some $5.5 million. The ELCA challenged their two unanimous votes to leave and the synod council prohibited them from leaving and taking their valuable property with them. Eventually, St. Peter Lutheran Church did leave and is now a LCMC congregation. Just my humble opinion here, but these actions seem more like those a devious and unethical organization would choose to use to swindle good and trusting people.
For those who choose to remain in this apostate denomination, hear this. While Jesus sat with sinners, those sinners were led to repentance. The ELCA is scrambling to maintain their power and refuses to repent of their sinful actions. Sit in the pew of an ELCA church and turn over the gifts God has blessed you with is the equivalent of funding the evil one’s mischief in the world. These tax collectors will not only fail to apologize for their actions and make amends, they will continue to take money and resources from the willing and the unknowing, not using it to further God’s Kingdom, but to build up and maintain their own earthly wealth and status. By choosing to remain in unity with this errant church, you choose to hold on to the things of this world, rather than being united in Christ. Ephesians 5:5-7, “For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them.”