Bethel Lutheran Church is a rural congregation a few miles west of Scarville, Iowa. It is in an area of North Iowa that the locals know as Vinje. A place that is too small to be considered a town but everyone treats it like one anyway. Vinje is a quaint little place (see here) comprised of Bethel Lutheran Church, a cemetery, a few houses and well-frequented restaurant/bar where people gather to shoot the breeze and play summer league volleyball.
On September 29, 2015, Bethel Lutheran Church made this announcement of Facebook:
“The vote on Sunday passed unanimously (as it did the first time in January too) to sever Bethel Lutheran Church's association with the ELCA. This decision is based on multiple reasons including financial and scriptural just to name a few. Bethel also voted on Sunday to affiliate with the LCMC which is Lutheran Congregations In Mission For Christ. We will continue to seek another parish to work with on funding a full-time minister position, and keep moving forward! Onward and upward with the support of the congregation members, their friends and family, and the community! Blessings to all!
Oh - and don't forget - church on Sunday at 10 am. Certainly Pastor will have an inspiring sermon. He always does :)” (see here)
Bethel Lutheran Church joins the growing list of 57+ LCMC churches in Iowa. I praise God for the faithful and God-honoring decision the people of Bethel made. Please join me in prayer for the congregation as they seek to proclaim Christ in Vinje and beyond.
The following was posted on Bethany Evangelical Lutheran Church, Montoursville, PA's facebook page:
"Results of this mornings congregational meeting. On resolution 1 to leave the ELCA: 77 yes, 11 no. More than two thirds (87%) of voting members present voting yes, the motion is ADOPTED. On resolution 2 to accept NALC constitution and join: 77 yes, 11 no. A majority of ballots cast voting yes. The motion is ADOPTED. The required letters will go to the Upper Susquehanna Synod of the ELCA and to the NALC to make the change official." (see here)
Additionally, this was reported on the North American Lutheran Church (NALC) facebook page:
“Thank you for your prayers! Bethany Lutheran, Montoursville held its second vote yesterday to disaffiliate with the ELCA and affiliate with the NALC. The vote was in the affirmative to make the transition. God's blessings.” (see here)
Clint Schnekloth is one of the most prominent and influential pastors in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and his voice carries a lot of weight in the denomination. He is an author and blogger; he launched and facilitates the ELCA Clergy Facebook Group that has over 5800 members. And Pastor Schnekloth himself tells us that he -
In a letter posted on his blog he writes -
“This is why I'd like to say here what I often say to LGBT families in our congregation. Not only are you welcome. Not only are you tolerated. You are beautiful. Your same-gender partnership is attractive and a witness in our church. We want to learn from you.” (read here)
Again on the ELCA Clergy Facebook page, Rev. Schnekloth writes -
“Here is what I want to know. It seems popular these days to go with the Gnostic notion that Jesus was married. But this seems to fall right into the hands of heteronormativity. If Jesus wasn't single, it's pretty clear to me he was in a committed relationship with the beloved disciple, another man. Why do we assume he was attracted to women?” (posted here)
How sad that this man's view, this man's theology, is whole-heartedly accepted in the ELCA.
After reading Pastor Schnekloth's defaming of Christ and celebration of sexual sin, it is with gladness that I can tell you there was a massive split in the church (Good Shepherd Lutheran Church Fayetteville, AR) that Rev. Schnekloth leads. Last month Rev. Schnekloth wrote -
“I'm doing a 'state of the church' sermon tomorrow. My plan is to name the reality of the new church that has broken off from us...” - (read here and for a news article of the new church read here)
It is almost unbelievable that anyone chose to remain under the leadership of this vocal, extremely liberal pastor. It is equally unbelievable that 3.8 million people have chosen to remain under the teaching of the satanically-inspired theology of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
It has been a long-drawn out battle for Bethel Lutheran Church in Holdrege, Nebraska. Almost two years ago, Bethel Lutheran passed their second vote to leave the ELCA. That was just the beginning. Since the vote the ELCA Nebraska Synod Council voted to deny the congregation's decision. Bethel was taken to court by some of their pro-ELCA church members over the church's vote. The presiding judge dismissed the lawsuit. The pro-ELCA members appealed. Here is an update:
"The Nebraska Supreme Court has overruled the district judge's decision to dismiss the pending lawsuit against Bethel. We are back to the beginning. Even though the district judge has dismissed the case twice the Supreme Court has asked her to rule on it a third time." (see the Neb. Supreme Court's decision here)
"The people of Bethel need to know that this battle matters. Please send letters of encouragement and support to-
Bethel Lutheran Church
Attn. Pastor Jamie Strickler
704 West Ave
Holdrege NE 68949"
Read a news report about Nebraska Supreme Court decision here.
Other articles concerning Bethel Lutheran from Exposing the ELCA here, here and here.
Exposing the ELCA received the following statement yesterday:
Martin Luther Church, Johnson, Nebraska is NO LONGER an ELCA church having passed the second vote December 7th, 2014. There were 136 voting members present, 91 votes were needed to pass. The vote results were 93 YES votes, 40 NO votes, 3 abstains (which count as NO votes per ELCA rules) giving a percentage of 68.4%. In the same ballot vote the congregation voted to be affiliated with both the NALC and LCMC. PRAISE THE LORD!!!!!!
On Friday, February 14th Bethel Evangelical Lutheran Church (LCMC) learned that the plaintiffs in the lawsuit filed against Bethel's Council members, named as defendants, had filed a Notice of Appeal with the Phelps County District Court, appealing the decision of Judge Harder to grant the defendants' Motion to Dismiss. In January 2014, Judge Harder dismissed the lawsuit filed by a small minority of Bethel's members which sought to nullify the current Constitution and Bylaws of Bethel, invalidate Bethel's affiliation with the LCMC, declare Bethel affiliated with another Lutheran denomination, have Pastor Jamie Strickler declared ineligible to serve as Bethel's pastor, and other related actions. Judge Harder determined that she did not have subject matter jurisdiction over the case given the 1st Amendment issues involved on the face of the plaintiffs' complaint.
This matter will now go to appeal before the Nebraska Court of Appeals with a future date for oral arguments to be determined. The appeal is Aldrich v. Nelson, Court of Appeals No: A-14-000143. As developments occur, we will keep Bethel's members, supporters and friends informed.
Please pray for Bethel as we continue to be the church and to do its work in Holdrege. We will not allow this lawsuit, which is contrary to Scripture's instruction that Christians should not sue each other in court, to effect what we are called by the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20) to do. Please also pray for the plaintiffs that they may repent of their actions and together they and Bethel may be reconciled, ending rifts between families who have worshiped together for generations. Please also pray that by Bethel standing firm on Scripture, God will allow other congregations to gain their freedom without having to endure the harassment that we have endured here in Holdrege.
St. Paul Lutheran Church in Hastings, NE successfully voted, for the second time, to leave the ELCA and join the LCMC. Their first vote was 68% their second 74%.
This is an update to a story Exposing the ELCA has been following regarding a lawsuit against Bethel Lutheran Church in Holdrege, Nebraska. (see previous articles here and here) The lawsuit sought to overturn the decision of a 75% majority vote of the congregation to leave the ELCA -
On January 17, 2014 Nebraska District Court Judge Harder granted Bethel Lutheran Church’s request for dismissal of the lawsuit brought against her by a small minority of ELCA supporters. This is the second dismissal of this complaint granting Bethel her rights and freedoms guaranteed under the 1st Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America.
Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Berlin, Pennsylvania held their first vote to leave the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America last Sunday. It passed 132-12. The 2nd vote is scheduled for March, 2014.
Please keep the congregation in your prayers.
The following information comes from a report on the ELCA Conference of Bishops held October 2013 -
(ELCA Secretary David) “Swartling also presented information about the number of congregations disaffiliating from the ELCA, reporting that 951 congregations have taken a total of 1,030 first votes; 717 first votes passed; 313 first votes failed; 693 second votes have been take; 658 second votes passed; 35 second votes failed. A total of 647 congregations have been officially removed from the roster of congregations of the ELCA.”
“Heard a report from the Rev. Linda Norman, ELCA treasurer, who shared that the ELCA churchwide organization had income in excess of expense of $2.5 million for the seven-month period ending Aug. 31, an unfavorable variance $0.6 million compared to last year at this time and favorable to the period budget by $5.6 million. Expenses during the previous seven months have increased by $2.9 million or 8.2 percent from the previous year. Income from congregations shared with synods and the churchwide organization in the form of Mission Support for the previous seven months was $26.7 million, a decrease of $0.5 million or 2 percent compared to this period last year. The revised annual Mission Support budget for 2013 is $49.4 million, about $0.4 million or 0.95 percent lower than the amount received in 2012. Norman said the churchwide organization is monitoring Mission Support trends, looking into 'the ecology of our giving.'” (read here)
The numbers are in and they are not good for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Yet they do show that a faithful remnant have placed God's Word over their affinity for the ELCA.
The 2012 numbers show that there are now 9,533 ELCA congregations. (this includes “155 congregations under development”) In 2011, the ELCA had 9,638 congregations. That means there has been a loss of 105 ELCA congregations (happening for a variety of reasons) in one year.
The total number of baptized members in the ELCA as of 2012 is 3,950,924. This is significant in that the ELCA is no longer a denomination of 4 million members.
In 2011, the membership total was 4,059,785. That equals a loss of 108,861 members or -2.68% in one year.
Only 2,515,205 ELCA members are classified as “Active Participants.”
The total ELCA church attendance at worship each week for 2012 is 1,092,279, compared to 2011 which was 1,123,071. That is a year's loss of 30,792.
Analyzing this further, when we look at the years 2009 (the year of the ELCA's homosexuality decisions) through 2012, the ELCA has lost 682,963 members (14.7%) and 863 congregations.
Consider also that when the ELCA was formed in 1987 they had: 5,288,048 members and 11,133 congregations.
The figures show that the ELCA is a dying denomination. Here are some more figures:
“The statistics below are through the end of 2012 and reflect disaffiliations since the Churchwide Assembly in 2009.
• 947 congregations have taken a total of 1026 first votes to disaffiliate
• 713 first votes passed
• 313 first votes failed (33 percent)
• 689 second votes have been taken
• 654 second votes passed
• 35 second votes failed (5 percent)
• 643 congregations have been officially removed from the roster of congregations in the ELCA”
“The settings of disaffiliating congregations also vary widely. More than 67 percent are in rural settings or communities of less than 10,000. At the same time, the ELCA has lost 21 percent of its congregations worshipping 800 or more.”
Sources for the information and quotes in this blog originate from
It should also be noted that the ELCA budget continues to reflect the exodus of Bible-believing Christians from the denomination:
“Voting members of the 2013 Churchwide Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA)...
Approved the ELCA churchwide organization budget for fiscal years 2014-2016. The budget includes current fund spending of $70,541,740 for 2014, $68,552,280 for 2015, and $67,920,675 for 2016.” (see here)
Last year Exposing the ELCA posted a report concerning the battle that was waging between the ELCA and St. John Lutheran Church in Summerfield, Florida. (see here)
Here is an update from a member of the congregation:
In Sept. or October 2012 I wrote to you about a Central-Florida church whose pastor had been defrocked by the FL-Bahama Synod. The hypocritical reason for doing this (plus a host of other charges that were dropped) outraged the vast majority of congregants, who refused to obey the Synod ruling. They answered by dual-affiliating with the bible-centered ELCM, which granted a provisional rostering of the pastor, and then voted by super majority to keep him as their pastor. This action provoked no response from the Synod for several months until a minority of 40-50 members wanted the associate pastor to take his place, she was a recent seminarian and this was her first church, and she was 100% ELCA. That did not happen and she resigned some months ago. Appeals to Chicago Hdqtrs. and Tampa bishop to reconsider feel on deaf ears, his sin was too terrible to be forgiven. However, a homosexual pastor in the pulpit since 2002 in the Ft. Lauderdale area, 7 years before the 2009 approval of such pastors, seemed not a big deal to the ELCA hierarchy, he was after all in a committed monogamous relationship. What has since transpired in the past 6 months is this: The minority requested adjudication with the bishop and concerned parties. It was discovered that a minority delegation held a meeting with the bishop BEFORE the scheduled adjudication, the church council then declined to attend the adjudication meeting, it appeared to them that the outcome was already decided. Then a member of the congregation minority filed a lawsuit stating that the ELCA is a hierarchical church, the majority's action was unconstitutional and demanded the church be turned over to them. Their numbers have since dwindled to a mere handful, with most joining other area churches. There is no possible way they could keep the church viable and it would surely close. I guess the church and the bequeathed $2 million dollar, lake-front property would become the property of the ELCA. Now the GOOD NEWS, On July 2, 2013, the court DISMISSED the suit, stating the plaintiff had no merit and was not authorized to file a suit. He has 20 days to appeal the decision. Since the Synod has let him do the dirty work and spend his own money, it remains to be seen if they will go on any further. The Synod Council deferred all authority on the Executive Committee to handle the matter. The bishop retires on Aug. 31, 2013. I have no doubt that the Holy Spirit has taken an interest, there have been many unusual and fortuitous things that have happened since this all started, and we all thank God for his help. Our situation closely parallels the church in Eau Claire, WI., and we hope they succeed. We must fight the good fight for our Lord, no matter the outcome. God is in control, the final victory will be His.
Update II - An appeal of the dismissal was granted with a Aug. 11, 2013 deadline.
I will let you know when I hear more.
Local ELCA pastors and churches, one of them reportedly armed with information from the NW Synod of Wisconsin, are going public with their attacks against the Synod-ordered removed members of Grace Lutheran, who are now members of Saving Grace, an LCMC congregation. (see here if you do not know about this situation)
For clarity this congregation will be referred to as “Saving Grace” from now on.
The ELCA affiliated St. John's Lutheran Church in Eau Claire, WI posted a document on their church website about Saving Grace. St. John's Pastors Nate Aaseng and Christine Emerson signed the document which they claim was “based on information from our synod office.”
The St. John's document claims “those from (Saving Grace), etc.” are “attacking the ELCA.” And then refers to concerns Saving Grace has about the ELCA as “conspiracy theories.” (see here)
Then there are two blogs attacking Saving Grace authored by ELCA pastor Michael Rehak, which are posted on his church's website (First Lutheran in Eau Claire, WI). In one of Pastor Rehak's blogs he claims “the constitutions of Grace Lutheran Church, the NW Synod of WI, and the ELCA were deliberately violated and dismissed.” Pastor Rehak then accuses the members of Saving Grace of threatening and abusing ELCA supporters from their former church. He said, “No one dare minimize the depth of the abuse, threats – including personal, physical, and to the building, public humiliation, ridicule, and public demeaning that was directed toward individual members in fellowship, council meetings, in worship – from the pulpit, at funerals of friends, and out in public at stores or on the street. These hostile behaviors not only drove them into exile but have continued.” (read here)
In another blog by Pastor Rehak, called “The Presence of Christ,” he expounds on these accusations, reporting that ELCA supporters said they were “'Called names,' 'screamed at,' 'told to leave,' 'mocked,' 'yelled at,' 'told I wasn’t a member anymore,' 'declared worthless,' 'told I was the problem,' 'spit on,' 'threatened…' With such remarks, others would echo, 'So was I,' or, 'I heard that too…'” (see here)
ELCA Pastor Rehak wrote that these ELCA supporters from Grace Lutheran “were the presence of Christ in our midst,” but he conveniently fails to mention that suing their church and taking them to court is a violation of God's Word (1 Corinthians 6:1-7.)
The ELCA leadership in Wisconsin has shown their true colors with the lawsuit and currently with these attacks on Saving Grace. It shouldn't surprise us though, the ELCA has always been about rewriting God's Truth so it conforms to “their truth.” That is what is most important to them.
But God has been blessing Saving Grace. Here is an update from Dean Kallenbach:
“Just a little update from Saving Grace Lutheran Church in Eau Claire. Just two weeks after forming (and less than three weeks after being expelled as members of Grace Lutheran Church by the ELCA), Saving Grace Lutheran Church has been forced to add a second Sunday morning service in order to accommodate the sheer numbers of people turning up at the funeral home chapel in which they are meeting Sundays. They also are holding a Saturday afternoon service at Faith Lutheran Mission Church, and are sharing a Wednesday night service with Faith.
“In addition, the TV ministry of the congregation lives on. Though not it the old timeslot of 10:30 Sundays (being used now by the small faction that was placed in power at Grace Lutheran Church by the ELCA), the Saving Grace broadcasts featuring the sermons of Pastor Rolf Nestingen and Pastor David Irgens now airs Sundays at 11:30 a.m. on WQOW-TV, Channel 18.
“I encourage you to check out their Facebook page 'Saving Grace LCMC.'”
Lastly, would you or your church be willing to support Exposing the ELCA in its ministry? It would be greatly appreciated. You can find information on how to do that on the right hand side of this page. Thank you for your prayerful consideration.
Bethel Lutheran Church in Holdrege, Nebraska held two successful votes to leave the ELCA in 2010. The Nebraska Synod Council voted 11-1 to deny the congregation's wishes. (read more about that here) Now Bethel is being sued. (please hold them in your prayers) The statement below is from Bethel's Pastor Jamie Strickler:
Tomorrow April 18th between 1-2 pm Bethel will be in court defending our religious freedom and our belief in the authority of Holy Scripture. 31 plantiffs are suing Bethel on behalf of the ELCA Nebraska Synod to over turn the decision of a 75% majority vote of the congregation to leave the ELCA.
Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.
1 Thessalonians 5:21
Former ELCA seminary student and former ELCA member who is fed up with the ELCA's consistent mockery of God's Word.
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Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. - Ephesians 5:11