(Pastor Brock has updated this article with corrections.)
No, I'm not talking about the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's decision to ordain practicing homosexuals and to allow homosexual "weddings". That took place in 2009 and caused the largest church split in American history. I am thinking of the ELCA's decision in 1997 to continue to pay for abortion for any reason--and no reason--in its healthcare plan for pastors and their families. This plan is funded by offering dollars.
Here is what happened. About 1995 I discovered the ELCA had been paying for abortion-on-demand, no questions asked, for a number of years. I knew the ELCA was liberal, but I was still surprised by how radical their abortion policy was in its healthcare plan. I sent 11,000 letters to every ELCA church in the country explaining the situation since few were aware of the policy. I received many letters, some pastors were grieved and others supportive of the abortion payments. It looked for a while that a change was coming. The ELCA's Board of Pensions which administered the health program was about to offer amendments to only pay for abortion for rape, incest, life of the mother, and fetal anomaly incompatible with life. This was too broad for my liking, but at least it was better than abortion-on-demand. But this Board of Pensions' move was not encouraged by the ELCA's Conference of Bishops which from my understanding wanted to keep the status quo. The only concession was that abortion payments would be restricted after the 20th week of pregnancy. Again, I was somewhat surprised, I thought perhaps the bishops would be on the side of life. The Presiding Bishop at the time was Herbert Chilstrom who has since become public in his affirmation of abortion rights and homosexual "marriage".
So I sent out a second letter to 11,000 churches urging people to take the issue to the national assembly. The only way to overrule the liberal abortion policy was to pass a resolution through the national assembly, which was to take place in Philadelphia in 1997. I attended that assembly. God bless the pro-life people who got to the microphones urging the ELCA to stop paying for abortion with the offerings of the people of God. Others urged that this is a private matter between a woman and her doctor and self-righteous men need to be quiet. I thought to myself "If this is a private matter (which it isn't) then don't make the Church pay for it." But when the vote was taken, the ELCA decided by a 3 to 1 margin to continue to pay for abortion for any reason.
I literally shook the dust off my feet as I left that assembly and a few years later my congregation left the ELCA.
Many people today are still unaware that when they give their offering to the ELCA it can go to pay for abortion. Your ELCA offering dollars at work: killing unborn children. As one pastor said back then "Real churches don't kill babies."
In Jesus our Savior,
Pastor Tom Brock