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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or concerns.
Yours in Christ,
Church Council President
Pastor Perry Fruhling