Now we have an actual statement from ELCA leadership about the teachings of this San Francisco Lutheran Church. Bishop Michael Burk of ELCA Southeastern Iowa Synod spoke with Ebenezer Lutheran Church’s Bishop from the Sierra Pacific Synod (in August 2010). Bishop Burk had questions about reports he had heard of non-orthodox practices happening at the church. Here is his account of that conversation,
“After visiting with the bishop and with another synod staff member who knows the congregation and the pastor well, there is an acknowledgement that this congregation ‘pushes around the edges’ on matters that make some of us uncomfortable. Things like what they refer to this ‘rosary’ are seen by many to be outside the bounds, but don't rise to level of anything in the disciplinary arena. Speaking explicitly about the pastor and regular worship experience there, when folks have ‘dropped in unannounced’ they have experienced preaching that is decidedly within Lutheran orthodoxy and worship that is familiar and done with integrity. It was said that this small congregation is serving the local community very well, especially when it comes to reaching out to the local community.” (read here, go to comment 6)
We have now learned that Ebenezer Lutheran Church is offering women an interesting “spiritual retreat.” The church website says,
“Celebrate ‘She Who Is’
Encounter the Divine Feminine
with body, mind and spirit”
At this spiritual retreat you will experience -
“Sacred Re-imaging, rituals and work(play)shops, sacred sounds, altar building, meditation with the Cosmic Mother, Christian Feminist stories, beach walks, free time and relaxing with beauty that is around, among and within!”
The experience will include presentations on -
“God/dess Around Us
Language of the Goddess – Pr. Boorn (ELCA pastor)
God/dess Within Us
Connecting with God/dess – J. Dancer
God/dess Beyond Us
Spirit Shrines – Linda Roberts”
The Retreat gets even more interesting unfortunately. Ebenezer Lutheran Church’s website tells an attendee’s retreat experience where we read,
“Pastor Stacy reminded us of some of the discounted feminine images of God in the Old Testament—probably none of which were the products of female imaginations—and invited us to form our own images in clay of Asherah, the mother goddess of the Canaanites familiar to early Jewish inhabitants of Canaan. I am no artist. Warming and working the clay with my hands, I wondered whether my goddess would look anything like the photograph of an Asherah figure Stacy provided as a possible starting point . . .”
“The next project, led by Kathryn Wagner, was to make a mandala, a circular, meditative image of the self . . .”
“On the shore of Monterey Bay, on Saturday night and Sunday morning, all ten of us prayed the Goddess rosary [some beaded their own Goddess Rosary that afternoon] beside a cross erected of driftwood and draped with seaweed. Stacy called us to remember the sea as the primal water from which life emerged, to think of it as the amniotic fluid of our mother's wombs . . .” (Read here)
One could write five articles on the non-orthodox, troubling, and heretical statements written about this "spiritual retreat." But we will just focus on "Asherah."
The image of Asherah, that ELCA pastor Stacy Boorn had the women on the retreat make, is a false god. As was mentioned above, Asherah is "the mother goddess of the Canaanites" that God continually told the Israelites to stay away from. Scripture speaks of Asherah and Asherah poles extensively and none of it is positive. Here is one verse (see more verses at end of this article) -
Deuteronomy 12:3 - Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones and burn their Asherah poles in the fire; cut down the idols of their gods and wipe out their names from those places.
I would be interested in hearing from ELCA headquarters and the synod bishops as to whether this new documented information of "herchurch" making idols of a false god (one the Bible specifically mentions and which is forbidden in scripture) is still considered acceptable practices for ELCA members. As you can read in the Bible verses below, it is not acceptable to God.
If making idols and the worship of false gods does not warrant expulsion, I don’t know what does. ELCA inaction here = acceptance/approval.
More of what God’s Word says about Asherah/Asherah poles -
Judges 3:7 - The Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD; they forgot the LORD their God and served the Baals and the Asherahs.
1 Kings 14:15 - And the LORD will strike Israel, so that it will be like a reed swaying in the water. He will uproot Israel from this good land that he gave to their ancestors and scatter them beyond the Euphrates River, because they aroused the LORD’s anger by making Asherah poles.
1 Kings 16:33 - Ahab also made an Asherah pole and did more to arouse the anger of the LORD, the God of Israel, than did all the kings of Israel before him.
2 Kings 17:16 - They forsook all the commands of the LORD their God and made for themselves two idols cast in the shape of calves, and an Asherah pole. They bowed down to all the starry hosts, and they worshiped Baal.
Deuteronomy 7:5 - This is what you are to do to them: Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones, cut down their Asherah poles and burn their idols in the fire.