Large southern Minnesota church announces vote to leave ELCA, but synod bishop expresses concern

The 2,500-member Christ the King Lutheran Church in Hutchinson, Minn., announced that, by the slimmest of margins, it has voted to leave the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; but the Southwestern Minnesota bishop said he is "concerned" about the members following the "very close second vote."

The concern arises from a voting ballot that was not clearly marked.

According to a statement on the church’s website: "Of the 349 voters present and voting, 4 abstained, (which, in effect, are counted as NO votes) 112 voted NO, 232 voted YES, and one who had marked their ballot, but neither on the YES or NO line provided on the ballot. Since it wasn’t clear to the counters, it was decided that this ballot should not be counted in any way, leaving a total of 348 votes.

The council met Wednesday and reviewed all the ballots and the voting process. Since the constitution does not permit us to discard any ballot, the council needed to determine what kind of vote was on the ballot that was not counted. After thoroughly examining this ballot, and much discussion, the majority of council members agreed that the intent of the voter was, in fact, to cast a YES vote. This brought the total of YES votes to 233, which is 2/3 of the ballots counted as well as voting members present."

According to a June 4 ELCA release, the Southwestern Minnesota Synod bishop wrote in a June 3 e-mail: "How this single ballot is counted could change the outcome of Sunday’s decision to disaffiliate. The congregation’s leadership is working to resolve this matter."

Read the full ELCA press release at:

And read a statement from the Church: