"A message from Anne Carter, Rev. Rolf Nestingan, and Rev. David Irgens."
(New Update: from Dean Kallenbach)
The former members of Grace Lutheran Church in Eau Claire, who have had their voting status removed by action of the Northwest Wisconsin Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) supported by a ruling by Polk County Circuit Court Judge Molly GaleWyrick on Tuesday, gathered for worship this morning in the Stokes and Mundt Funeral Home in Altoona. 386 individuals in attendance at the service. Following the communion services, children went to Sunday School while the adults had coffee before moving to a question-and-answer session and then a business meeting.
In that meeting, the former Grace members in attendance voted unanimously to form a new congregation. Saving Grace Lutheran will be an affiliate of Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ (LCMC), a centrist, congregation-based Lutheran church body which recognizes Scripture as the sole source and norm of faith and life.
The church council that had been representing the members at Grace Lutheran Church was appointed as the council of Saving Grace for at least the next year when there will be a new constitution and elections.
A constitution committee was appointed, as ws a relocation/property committee to find a semi-permanent place to worship. According to Saving Grace President Anne Carter, the congregation needs a good space, a good kitchen and plenty of parking.
Pastors Rolf Nestingen and David Irgens were asked if they were willing to serve the congregation. Both pastors agreed, and their response was greeted with a standing ovation.
The business staff -- formerly of Grace Lutheran -- will continue to work with Saving Grace on a part-time basis to start, according to Anne .
According to the Saving Grace LCMC Facebook page, "Saving Grace Lutheran was formed after the ELCA closed the doors of Grace Lutheran Church, removing the congregation and staff until further notice. There is where Saving Grace was born in the heart of Eau Claire. Saving Grace church's mission is to make Jesus Christ known to others and to serve the people; in the heart of Eau Claire with a heart for the world as well as to serve our brothers and sisters in other countries."
The Facebook page lists the address of the new congregation as 800 Wisconsin St, Building D2 420K, Box 65 in Eau Claire (54703). The congregation phone number is listed as 715-797-1020.
I understand a news release regarding the new congregation is being developed, and I'll share that when I see it.
In related news, Grace Lutheran Church has had a long-standing television ministry. In anticipation of the many questions viewers would have based on the court decision this past week, leadership of what was formerly Grace Lutheran Church and is now Saving Grace Lutheran recorded a video that aired this morning on WQOW-TV 18 at 6 a.m.. That video -- nearly one-half hour in length -- is available on You Tube, and may be seen here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LJnO9hLZrdE&feature=youtu.be
As I understand it (thought I wasn't in town to see it), the Grace Lutheran broadcast for this Sunday (the normal 10:30 a.m. broadcast) was a recording of a choral presentation from several years ago.
Finally, according to the Grace Lutheran Church website, no Sunday service was held at the church today. According to the web site, "During this time of transition, the Grace Lutheran Church building on 202 West Grand Avenue will be closed. During transition, Grace ELCA will worship at First Lutheran..." No reason was given why the new leadership of Grace Lutheran Church chose to worship in a different building.