The following information is from a speech called "Equipping the Saints for Ministry: ‘These are the times that try our souls’ - by Pastor Gary Jepson from Puyallup, Washington.
Last fall, I wrote an email to our ELCA Bishop, Mark Hanson, asking him if he was aware of the ELCA congregation in San Francisco, Ebenezer Lutheran Church. I was pretty sure that he was aware but I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt. If you are not aware of this congregation, look it up on the Internet – www.herchurch.org. In short, this is a congregation that has been taken over by a radical feminist element and pastor, and it practices “goddess worship.” It does not confess the Trinity as Father, Son (Jesus Christ), and Holy Spirit. They confess Mother, Christ Sophia, and Holy Spirit. If you go to their website you will be able to buy a rosary (strange enough in a Lutheran context, but not necessarily bad), a rosary, not with a cross (because that’s a symbol not of divine love, sacrifice, and salvation but of divine child abuse), but a rosary with a goddess figure on it. The goddess is the likeness of a fertility goddess from ancient Baalism. Baalism, of course, isn’t a problem for the leaders of Ebenezer Lutheran Church because all that stuff in the Old Testament condemning the Baal cult and fertility worship is in their view merely patriarchal paranoia in an effort to repress the feminine.Now, I think all of us would agree that they have the right (as individuals and as a group) to believe whatever they want. They can even band together to start their own congregation, denomination, or religion. However, on the basis of their own posted statements, they claim to be an ELCA congregation. But they are in complete violation of the ELCA constitutional faith statement because they are completely at odds with the Bible and the Lutheran Confessions.And the pastor is completely at odds with the ELCA “Visions and Expectations” statement for clergy. How do they justify that? How do they justify hijacking a congregation founded and paid for by Lutherans?So, I wrote Bp. Hanson and asked him what he was going to do about it. He, of course, did not respond to my e-mail (and I did not expect that he would), but his executive secretary did. He wrote something to the effect: “Dear Rev. Jepsen, thank you for sharing your concerns with Bp. Hanson. You are aware, of course, that the ELCA is organized into synods (Duh – I didn’t know that! I’ve only been a pastor for over 30 years!) and that it is therefore the responsibility of the local synod bishop to deal with these sorts of issues in his synod. And, do remember, the ELCA is an inclusive church.”Of course I know the ELCA is organized in synods! What I wanted to know was whether or not Bp. Hanson was going to do anything about this situation to hold this congregation accountable, or to hold the synod bishop of the San Francisco area accountable for his failure to discipline the congregation and its pastor in terms of their violation of the ELCA faith statement and such.
You see, what we have here is a major violation of the fiduciary responsibility of the synod bishop and of Bp. Hanson to fulfill the responsibilities of their offices. And, if he’s going to do that, why on earth did we ever need bishops (overseers) in the first place? And why did we need the historic episcopate when one of the arguments for it was to strengthen the “magisterial” (teaching) office of the church in order to insure orthodoxy?!!?
Can you imagine the Apostle Paul allowing that? Or Martin Luther? Can you imagine Pope Benedict XVI allowing one of his bishops to deal so irresponsibly with a rogue congregation? And then just wash his hands of the matter!!! Frankly that’s not only a violation of Bp. Hanson’s fiduciary responsibility as Bishop, it’s also a violation of his ordination vows to preach and teach in accordance with the Scriptures and the Confessions of the Lutheran Church. Unfortunately, I was so disgusted with that e-mail that I deleted it so I cannot produce it as evidence. You have to trust my memory.
So, on this basis, we have a cynical commentary right out of ELCA headquarters on what ordination vows mean for our church. Little or nothing! What do the words of the ELCA faith statement mean? Little or nothing! Instead, in place of our ordination vows and faith statement we have some fuzzyheaded notion of “tolerance” and “inclusivity”! Because, if what I have described is accurate (and it is), then it appears that in the ELCA you can preach and teach heretical doctrine, thumb your nose at the Scriptures, the Lutheran Confessions, and so on (so long as you do liturgy correctly). Do all that and you will be welcomed in the ELCA with open arms because, after all “we are an inclusive church!” However, if you raise a question about heretical doctrine and improper procedure you will be virtually banished for “intolerance”, and treated as if you don’t exist!
At least the Roman Catholic Church of Luther’s day took him seriously enough to excommunicate him. The ELCA just banishes you, ignores you, and refuses to answer legitimate inquiry.
This is what happens when a church is seduced by the culture of death into cultural agendas and into cynical methods of interpretation when a church is not only in the world, but also too much of the world. Then it fails (by submitting itself to the heretical rubric of “tolerance”) to hold people accountable to its founding documents and statements of faith.
Whether intentionally or not, the very leaders we elected to lead and guide us in accordance with our founding documents have now, in effect, subverted those documents without any clear statement of why or where they are trying to take us.
Does this bewilder you as much as it does me? I am bewildered because I fail to understand the reason or the logic that enables them to justify their actions. In fact, there appears to be an abandonment of reason and rationality when it comes to these practices and trends. I suppose, in their thinking, logic and reason are just a vestige of patriarchy and its repression of the more holistic feminine embrace of feelings and intuition.Read the full speech here.
Below is a letter from St. Mark's Lutheran Church (Marion, Iowa) church council president and senior pastor indicating that this ELCA and LCMC dual-affiliated church has been removed from the ELCA roster of churches by the Southeastern Iowa Synod Council.
April 24, 2012
There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
As you know, the church council has been in continuing conversations with Bishop Michael Burk regarding our denominational affiliation. It has been and continues to be our desire to keep you up to date. We were informed yesterday that on Saturday, April 21, the Southeast Iowa ELCA Synod Council removed St. Mark’s congregation from the roster of ELCA churches. St. Mark’s remains a Lutheran church, our building remains the property of St. Mark’s, and our congregation’s mission continues as before. We neither celebrate nor grieve the synod’s actions, but we desire to listen to those who may be hurting or confused as a result of these actions.
After the decisions of the ELCA church-wide assembly in 2009, our congregation spent much time studying our denominational affiliation. Our congregational votes to leave the ELCA ultimately resulted in St. Mark’s remaining part of the ELCA. To bring healing and unity to our church family, the church council held discussions with congregational members and Bishop Burk, and reviewed the precedent set by other congregations who are dual-affiliated. After these actions, the church council voted to join Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ (LCMC) while remaining in the ELCA.
Soon after St. Mark’s dual affiliation with the ELCA and the LCMC, the synod placed our congregation under censure and admonishment. In addition, Pastor Fruhling was recently removed from the clergy roster of ELCA pastors. The synod’s unprecedented action to remove St. Mark’s from the ELCA because of our dual affiliation is saddening and disappointing. We remain a distinctly Lutheran congregation in the Cedar Rapids area as a part of the LCMC, and we belong to no one but Christ.
St. Mark’s will continue to support and work with our brothers and sisters in the ELCA and remain faithful to our mission partners in the ELCA, such as CrossRoads Mission, San Lucas and Cristo Rey Lutheran churches in Texas and Mexico, and World Hunger Appeals, among others. Our focus remains on outreach and our mission is to share Christ’s love with others.
We will continue our pastoral call process and begin to look at constitutional updates that will be needed. While there are challenges ahead, there are opportunities for strengthening our witness as the body of Christ, and we are confident that St. Mark’s will move forward in mission for our Lord.
Yours in Christ,
Church Council President
Pastor Perry Fruhling
Previous article about St. Mark's Lutheran Church:- Dual Rostered Church Censured, Pastor De-Rostered By ELCA Bishop (see here)
The following is a letter from both the council president and senior pastor of St. Mark's Lutheran Church in Marion, Iowa. (elca.org lists St. Mark's average attendance at 961)
March 27, 2012
There is on body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. Ephesians 4:4-6
Dear Partners of St. Mark’s,
As we continue our Lenten journey, we give thanks to God for calling us to the cross and into a deeper relationship with Christ, and for continuing opportunities for faithful service to Him. St. Mark’s church council last updated you in late November regarding denominational issues. That update followed the council’s resolution to dual roster with Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ (LCMC) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). Since then, we have continued conversations with our synod bishop, Michael Burk, in regard to our relationship with the ELCA.
In response to the council’s November resolution, Bishop Burk has placed St. Mark’s under censure and admonishment. Our council has continued conversations with the synod to fully understand what this means. The first indication of any change in procedures was that the synod office would not provide assistance to us in the pastoral call process. Our call committee, however, is continuing its work and has several excellent ELCA pastoral candidates with whom it is moving forward in conversations that may ultimately lead to a call. Each of the candidates is aware of our circumstances and is pleased to continue the interview process.
This past week we received word that Pastor Perry Fruhling has been removed from the ELCA clergy roster. While the ELCA actions are disappointing, we anticipated that there could be some ramifications to our council resolution. Pastor Perry was called and will continue to serve St. Mark’s congregation for years to come. Arrangements have been made to ensure continuity of his healthcare benefits and pension. Since Pastor Perry was called according to our constitution as an ELCA pastor, we have simply extended the provisions of that call going forward.
What follows remains in the hands of our local bishop and the Southeastern Iowa Synod Council. In our communication with the bishop, we have made it clear that we desire to continue our current relationship with the ELCA as a dual-rostered church. We continue as a congregation to generously support numerous faithful ELCA ministries.
Our application to affiliate with the LCMC has been accepted, and we remain committed to being part of a Lutheran church body. Regardless of any ELCA actions, St. Mark’s continues as a Lutheran church and ownership of our building remains firmly with our congregation. Our building addition gives St. Mark’s the unique ability to reach out to the community and continue to serve others. Our recent Christmas Eve services and Ash Wednesday service had record numbers of people attending. As a congregation of faithful servants to God’s Word, we will continue to grow.
We encourage you to pray for the ELCA, the LCMC and for all members of St. Mark’s as we move forward in serving Christ. As always, please call or email email@example.com with any questions or concerns.
Yours in Christ,
Church Council President
Pastor Perry Fruhling
Should we remain in unity, (defined as "the state of being one") united with a "Christian" denomination that denies the truth and authority of scripture? What does God want? How should Christians respond to the ELCA and it's departure from God? God's Word tells us:
Colossians 2:8 - See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.
2 Corinthians 6:14-17 - Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people."
"Therefore come out from them
and be separate, says the Lord.
Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you."
2 John 9-11 - Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him in your house and do not give him a greeting: for the one who gives him a greeting participates in his evil deed.
Romans 16:17-18 - I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people.
Ephesians 5:6-8 - 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. For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light.
Rev. 18:4 - I heard another voice from heaven, saying, “Come out of her, my people, so that you will not participate in her sins and receive of her plagues;
Titus 1:13 - He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.
2 Thessalonians 3:6 - Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us.
For churches and ELCA members looking to break away from the ELCA, you will run into a lot of claims aimed at keeping you in the denomination. Bishops will say “we need your (orthodox/traditional) voice” in the denomination. They need you? The ELCA is less Lutheran than it was last year. The ELCA made no repentance over the last 10+ years the WordAlone organization was seeking the ELCA’s return to Scripture. Lutheran Core also saw little change in the ELCA despite their strong voice for a return to orthodoxy. If the ELCA hasn’t returned to the truth, over all these years, what makes one think that they will if your church stays in the ELCA?
Some people claim that the devil is at work trying to divide us. Satan wants you to believe that statement. The fact is, Satan is actually working to change the truth, doctrine and our outlook on Scripture so that people will believe lies and not believe in Christ and find freedom from sin. Satan wants us to stay in a denomination that doesn't bring people to Christ anymore.
I can’t understand those that place unity over God’s truth. If the ELCA decided Bishop Hanson is the Son of God, not Jesus, would those same people still be calling on unity? Would you remain a denomination that so blatantly rejects Truth?
Jaynon Clark, WordAlone Ministries president wrote this to ELCA Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson, "The time has come for someone--unfortunately me--to step up, no matter what the consequences are for doing so and call, ‘Foul.’ I intend to bellow like an over-padded umpire in this, my attempt, to stop the exportation of this false gospel and new religion you have presided over and imported into the ELCA and beyond. . . You openly proclaim that Scripture lacks clarity and is unable to address this present age with authority. This is blasphemy against God, His Word and the work of the Holy Spirit." (read here)
This "new religion" as Jaynon Clark calls it, is a false religion. I can not imagine God wanting us to remain in a denomination that is working to undermine everything He says. We should pray for them, we should speak the truth in love to them, but we should not remain or partake in their modern day worship of self.
The ELCA made it's decision to call homosexuality "good" even though God calls it sin and asks those to turn from it. The ELCA decision was a rejection of the Bible and then they ask it's members to remain in unity. Here is how we all should answer the ELCA.
"It is illogical to embrace heresy and then expect unity. . . It is better to be divided by truth than united in error."
"Unity, Biblical unity comes from what we believe about the word of God and the Son of God."
"It is appalling and evil when an official denominational pronouncement condones and celebrates the very sins that keep people out of the kingdom of God. How is that good? How is that justice? How is the loving? How does that liberate anyone? This decision slanders God. It just misses God's word and promotes damnation in the place of salvation. . . it is better to be divided by the truth than united in error. . . Biblical heresy is not the rallying point for church unity, Biblical truth is. We rally around the word of God and the Son of God, that is where we find our unity."
"Personally, I could not stay in a church or denomination that has blatantly ignored and defied scripture." Quotes from Pastor Troy Dobbs (see video here)