According to a press release from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:
Zion United Lutheran Church, Clear Lake, Iowa, will remain in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) after an Aug. 22 congregational vote to leave the denomination fell short of the required two-thirds.
The congregation’s second vote to leave was 317-167 in favor, but two votes shy of the 319 votes needed to end the congregation’s affiliation with the ELCA, according to a report in the Mason City (Iowa) Globe-Gazette.Â The newspaper reported that six members counted the votes, three who favored leaving and three who favored staying in the ELCA.Â Zion United has nearly 1,700 baptized members.
This week’s vote apparently ends the congregation’s months-long attempt to leave the denomination.Â At one point in the process, the congregation’s leaders and the Rev. Steven L. Ullestad, bishop of the ELCA Northeastern Iowa Synod, disagreed about whether the congregation’s first vote to leave, held on Dec. 13, 2009, was valid.Â Ullestad ruled it was not because the congregation had not followed constitutional procedures in counting votes.
At the time the disagreement regarding the vote was believed to be the first of its kind in the ELCA since some congregations began the process to leave the denomination as a response to the sexuality decisions of the 2009 ELCA Churchwide Assembly.