Hawley (Minn.) Lutheran Church, a congregation of more than 1,100 baptized members, could take the first step Sept. 19 toward breaking with its denomination.
The congregation has scheduled a â€œspecial meetingâ€ that day to vote on whether to leave the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Congregation President Clayton Lilleby confirmed the meeting via e-mail Tuesday.
To leave the ELCA, a congregation must pass two votes separated by at least 90 days.
Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ (LCMC) accepted its 500th congregation this month.
Members of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Morris, Minn., voted on Aug. 22 to join the traditionalist denomination.
LCMC has has grown by well over 100 percent since the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s (ELCA) controversial Churchwide Assembly last year. At that Aug. 2009 gathering, the ELCA opted to allow individuals in same-gender relationships to serve in the clergy and passed a controversial social statement on human sexuality. Some congregations displeased with those decisions and what they see as a drift away from scripture, have sought affiliation in the more conservative LCMC.
Of course, to keep things in perspective, the ELCA is the largest Lutheran denomination in the United States with more than 10,000 congregations.
The decisions by the ELCA also sparked the creation of the North American Lutheran Church, a denomination that was officially born Friday at the annual convocation of Lutheran CORE.
The Rev. Steve Shive, pastor of First Presbyterian in Fargo, said he doesn’t believe the faithful in North Dakota and Minnesota are ready for the votes cast Thursday by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A) in favor of removing language prohibiting individuals in same-gender relationships from serving in the clergy.
To take effect, the assembly’s decision would have to be approved by a majority of the 173 presbyteries.
First Lutheran Church in Fargo, a congregation of more than 5,000 members, has renewed its giving to the national offices of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
But the church, which has budgeted about $75,000 in benevolence, or 5 percent of its budget, to the ELCA for 2010, is also providing congregants the option to restrict their donations from going to the denomination’s national offices.
The Eastern North Dakota Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America will consider a resolution this weekend that would call the ELCA to reverse last August’s decision to allow individuals in same-gender relationships to serve in the clergy.
Another resolution on the agenda of the assembly, which opened this morning, would call on the denomination to remove or revise a human sexuality social statement that critics see as betraying scriptural teaching on traditional marriage.
The assembly will also address budget issues and are currently listening to Bishop Bill Rindy’s state of the synod address.
Assembly members will get outside the walls of the Jamestown Civic Center and do missions projects in the community.