By Rev. Cary G. Larson
In spite of numerous scriptural support from the Old and New Testaments for Christians to not to seek vengeance or revenge, as this is a matter for God and God alone, members of the ELCA’s Southeastern Minnesota (SEMN) Synod apparently believe that God needs some assistance.
On May 7th, the SEMN Synod’s assembly, entertained and voted on a resolution benignly titled “Resolution 2011-01: ELCA Health and Benefits Program”. This resolution of revenge sought to recommend to the ELCA Church Council to seriously consider and adopt a policy of “removing from the Health and Benefits Program of the ELCA, clergy who have left the ELCA or encouraged their congregations or laity to do so.”
In the original form the Resolution of Revenge was recorded as follows:
WHEREAS, both the North American Lutheran Church (NALC) and Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ (LCMC) are encouraging congregations, clergy, and laity to leave the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA); and
WHEREAS, some clergy have violated the governing documents of the ELCA by encouraging their congregations to leave the ELCA;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the 2011 Southeastern Minnesota Synod in assembly request that the ELCA Church Council consider removing from the Health and Benefits Program of the ELCA, clergy who have left the ELCA or encouraged their congregations or laity to do so.
The “whereas” paragraphs seemed problematic as according to the Synod’s own report, “During the discussion, multiple amendments to the resolution were brought to the floor, ranging from modifying phrases to revising language to striking all of lines 1-11. As discussion continued, Bishop Usgaard brought the discussion to a close in order that parliamentarian study could take place.” Lines 1-11 are the words prior to the “Therefore”.
According to one source that was present, during the lengthy preliminary discussion Rev. Sandy Rothschiller of the ELCA Board of Pensions (BOP) was granted the floor and advised against such measures as it hurts the BOP in the long run. Apparently this wisdom was ignored.
“Later in the afternoon, Bishop Usgaard was seen at the podium holding a copy of Robert’s Rules for Dummies, helping to lighten the mood, and he made a promise to the assembly that “We’re going to finish this.” Each proposal to amend the resolution was discussed, voted, and defeated, bringing the assembly back to the resolution as a whole. The debate continued. The resolution eventually passed as amended with a vote of 239 for, 129 against.” continues the synod’s report.
The resolution of revenge passed significantly after striking the words, “or encouraged their congregations or laity to do so”, of the original resolution.
It is interesting to note that while the wellness of dependents of clergy, including infants and children, could be grossly affected by this resolution, Bishop Usgaard took it upon himself to “lighten the mood” as the assembled synod delegates addressed this most serious issue.
The resolution of revenge as passed by the SEMN Synod of the ELCA clearly demonstrates that the patience within the ELCA is waning towards those, especially clergy, who disagree with the apostasies voted into play at the CWA09. Instead of practicing tolerance and grace, which the ELCA boasts as their cherished virtues, the proposed and adopted resolution clearly illustrates intolerance towards clergy who stand on the authority of Holy Scripture alone.