(This update comes from Dean Kallenbach)
Folks...a couple of days ago I shared the email that Grace Lutheran Church of Eau Claire (Wisconsin) president Anne Carter shared with her congregation breaking the news of the court decision that went against the congregation on Friday after protracted proceedings spanning nearly a year-and-a-half. Following is the address Anne made to the congregation during Sunday services, which fleshes out the ramifications (and the opportunities) the decision brings.
Top o’ the Morning to Ya and a Happy St. Patrick’s Day,Friday afternoon Judge Molly GaleWyrick entered a decision with the court in the lawsuit filed against Grace Lutheran Church. I have met with our attorney and with Pastor Nestingen briefly to discuss the decision. The decision made by Judge GaleWyrick is 4-1/2 pages long. A copy will be available in the church office tomorrow if anyone would care to read it. As with any legal document, there are terms unique to the legal profession and may not be easy to understand.
Before I tell you the specifics of that decision, I want to go over some of the timeline of this suit. In November 2011, Amazing Grace ELCA, Inc. filed suit against Grace claiming that dual affiliation effectively split Grace into two entities – one was ELCA and one was LCMC. The suit claimed that authority in the church resided with Amazing Grace who claimed ELCA loyalty. They asked the court to overturn the current Council and turn over control of the assets of the church to them. We had 30 days to respond, and on January 6, 2012, we filed a motion to dismiss the suit claiming that the courts did not have the right to impose membership or governance on a church body. Once the lawsuit and our motion were filed, we had to follow the schedule of the court and the authority of a judge.
In the meantime, Amazing Grace asked Bishop Duane Pederson to arrange adjudication on their behalf. The bishop arranged for a hearing before the Consultation Committee which resulted in a decision by the Synod Council on January 16, 2012. Grace Lutheran Church was then involved in two separate actions. It wasn’t until the summer of 2012 that Drew Ryberg, attorney for Amazing Grace, brought the two together by including the Synod Council’s decision in the lawsuit and asking the court to impose that decision on this church by removing our Council, turning over assets, evicting us from this building, etc.
So, to simplify and to paraphrase the decision:
Those directives briefly are:
The judge has ordered that Drew Ryberg draft an order in conformity with the decision and submit it to our attorney for approval. That is the court’s way of saying that the attorneys agree with each other about what the judge has ordered and write it up for her approval. After an order has been mutually agreed upon, the judge will sign it. That order is to be submitted by April 8, 2013. So, what does all this mean? I know that there are many questions. The court can only declare the directives to be final so we have to refer to the directives themselves to understand the practical implications of this decision.
Will our Council be replaced? NO. The present Council was duly elected by Grace Lutheran members and will continue as our leadership. I have been recognized by the NW Synod as the president of Grace and will remain in that position. The Synod Council’s decision does not address our leadership.
Do we lose control of our assets? NO. Our bank accounts still belong to Grace and will be maintained by present Council. The Synod Council’s decision does not address control of our assets.
Do we have to vacate the building? NO. Despite the interrogatory that demanded to know our computer codes and the location of the keys to our building, we are not going anywhere.
Will the pastors be forced to leave Grace? NO. Pastor Nestingen and Pastor Irgens were called by this congregation to serve God in this place and will remain our pastors for the duration.
Will Amazing Grace members be able to vote on Grace matters? Yes. Those Amazing Grace members who are members of Grace Lutheran Church are currently classified as voting members. Their voting rights were restored last May in accordance with the Synod Council’s decision.
Will Amazing Grace members be coming back to worship at Grace? I can’t answer that question. They have always been welcome here. It has been their choice not to worship here for almost two years. It has always been their right to choose a church that best fits their own personal desires and needs.
Do we have to pay any monies to the ELCA to support their programs and policies? NO. There is no prescribed amount of money that a church must pay to the ELCA. We currently send no money to support the ELCA general budget.
Will we always have to be an ELCA church? NO. The Synod Council decision reiterates our constitutional right to disaffiliate from the ELCA. This congregation has the right to determine its own future affiliation.
If we are forced to be solely affiliated with the ELCA for the time being, does that mean that we owe some oath of fealty or loyalty to the organization? NO. We owe it something much bigger. We owe it the truth, and the truth is that leadership in the ELCA have been found guilty of embezzlement and fraud. The ELCA is involved in several lawsuits appropriating land and assets from congregations across the country. Long-standing ELCA institutions are in danger of collapse due to financial mismanagement. Scriptural divergences that used to be isolated have now become mainstream.
Is this decision a bad thing? NO. We will soon be out of the jurisdication of the court and be able to plan and course the future of this church without interference.
Were the last two years a waste? NO. Over the last two years we have seen that the warnings we made about the ELCA have come true. Over the last two years God has shaped us and molded us into a new church. We have come to a truer understanding of what it means to be in relationship with Him.
And what kind of relationship is that? We are children of God who are members of God’s family here in this place called Grace. In this place we learn and study and grow and sing and give praise. We are disciples of Jesus Christ and with that comes responsibility. We are to be like the Christians in Berea who studied God’s Word to make sure that Paul was preaching the truth. We are to be watchdogs to let other ELCA members know the danger the church is in. We must call leadership to account. We must ask God’s people to repent.
Most importantly, we are to continue to honor Jesus. Jesus is not myth. Jesus is not a metaphor. Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s promises made to us at the beginning. Jesus is not an image of us. He is the face of the Father. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. It is through Him alone that we come to the Father, and it is through the Father that we receive forgiveness and salvation. We have had quite a journey, and it is not over yet. But hasn’t this been fascinating? We have been given a privilege not many people get: We have been given a front row seat to watch God in action. We are witnesses to His transformative power. He has changed us. He has brought His light into dark places.
Is this over? The lawsuit, maybe. Or maybe this is just the beginning of a glorious and wondrous adventure with a loving Savior who trusts us enough to walk with us and allow us to work at His side.
One thing’s for sure: This is the day that the LORD has made! We will rejoice and be glad in it!!
17 March 2013
The other day, on my personal facebook page I wrote a message of praise to God because a church, that is near to where I grew up, voted to leave the ELCA. A facebook “friend” who it seems is an ELCA supporter, responded to my comment saying, "Sounds like you are praising the Devil, not God.” I challenged his comment and he responded by “unfriending” me.
This kind of thing is not uncommon. I regularly received comments and emails from ELCA supporters who do not like me or Exposing the ELCA. Here are a few examples that I have gotten in the last few weeks -
One person responded to my blog about using Ouija boards at an ELCA college (see here) said, “Dont point to the spec in your neighbors eye when there is a log in your own.” Another person said, “If you've left the ELCA, stop worrying about them. It is not your job to judge, it is God's. Worry about your own business. As a Christian, and a graduate of Concordia College, I am embarrassed for you. And may I just add that the 'devil worshiping, doors of hell opening' haunted house at Concordia was probably a great time, I wish I could have attended.” That same person also wrote, “Are you guys serious? Do you not have anything better to do with you time other than come up with reasons why the ELCA is a sinful organization? I think you're missing the whole point of the gospel. God loves the world. Done. End of story. Get over yourselves.”
It’s obvious that most of the ELCA supporters who write to me do not know Scripture. These people make God in their own image, the way they want Him to be, which means the god they say they know, follow or worship is a false god. That brings me to this next ELCA supporter:
I’ve been receiving long messages from someone who is very supportive of the ELCA’s acceptance of goddess worship. (don’t believe me about the ELCA’s involvement and acceptance of goddess worship? See here) Check out a few of the things this person has sent Exposing the ELCA -
“Indeed, *herchurch* represents a denomination that God the Father *does* want to see being supported!
“You chose to believe your false interpretations of words in a book, edited & canonized by corrupt men with their own political-religious agenda of *controlling* the minds & beliefs of others. You chose this rather than actually pure-heartedly *seeking* Her Holy Spirit in your lives, to teach you "all things".”
“Praise Goddess that Her Spirit is so *alive* into this time! And *thank you* Heavenly Father for deciding that this is *Her* Time to come forth into history in the *Fullness* of Her Spirit, & that so many of us are privileged to be *alive* at this time to witness the beginnings of Your Further Revelations *as* Her.”
Not knowing, believing or following Scripture makes one susceptible to many things, including goddess worship.
(from Dean Kallenbach)
Following and attached is a report made by Grace Lutheran Church-Eau Claire president Anne Carter to the congregation there regarding the latest course happenings in their lawsuit.
This past Wednesday morning a hearing was held at the Polk County Courthouse in Balsam Lake with Judge Molly GaleWyrick. In attendance were Jay Heit, attorney for Grace Lutheran Church; Drew Ryberg, attorney for Amazing Grace; Tom Guelzow, attorney for the NW Synod of Wisconsin, who is also representing Bishop Duane Pederson in his divorce proceedings; Dan Herber of the Twin Cities, attorney for the ELCA. Ryan Steffes, attorney for Grace Lutheran Foundation, also attended. Forty-two members of Grace drove up for the hearing. One member of Amazing Grace was present. The hearing began at 10:00 and ran for about an hour.
The hearing was called to render a decision on a motion filed by Tom Guelzow against Jay Heit. He asked for sanctions against Mr. Heit for what he claimed was a frivolous lawsuit against the NW Synod. Mr. Guelzow spoke of his concern for the ethics and morality of the legal system as the reason for his filing for sanctions. Mr. Heit defended our lawsuit based upon our need to get answers on the procedures that were followed. The motion for sanction was denied.
Judge GaleWyrick took the opportunity to answer other motions that were pending with the court. Both the ELCA and the NW Synod had filed Judgments on the Pleadings. These were motions asking the court to dismiss our countersuit. They claimed ecclesiastical immunity. Their motions were granted. Reading from a prepared statement, Judge GaleWyrick expressed her opinion that our countersuit was a violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. She was determined that we had no right to involve those other two parties and bring a discussion of theology into the courtroom. She refused to accept the argument that our constitution is intertwined with theology and that procedure and theology cannot be separated. She refused to accept the argument that we are either all in this lawsuit or we are all out.
Even though Amazing Grace has asked the court to impose a decision of the NW Synod onto this church, she has insisted that we do not have the right to examine that decision making process. We had sent an interrogatory to the NW Synod. We wanted to know in particular:
With her decision, Judge GaleWyrick claims that we do not have the right to those answers. She expressed offense that we would have brought the constitutional contract into discussion. In January she told us that the court had jurisdiction because this matter was one of contractual procedure. Our defense was then based upon our constitutional contract. Wednesday she claimed that we had misunderstood her. She will only discuss article 15.11 of our constitution. In an editorial aside, she called upon the name of God and declared that we were, in effect, self-righteous zealots.
In the end, she announced that this was only about who has control of the property and the assets of Grace Lutheran Church. That claim is certainly proven by the nature of this lawsuit and the interrogatory that was sent to us. Amazing Grace wants the building and the trust funds and the security access codes. That’s all it’s about to them. If that is all that is to us, if it’s just about money, then we are just like them- shallow, self-absorbed and simple minded. But I know that it is about much more than that for all of us here. Almost two years ago, nearly 60 percent of Grace members voted to leave the ELCA for bigger, more profound reasons.
We all know that if you toss a frog into a pot of boiling water, he will jump out quickly to save his life. But if you put a frog into a pot of cold water and then turn the burner on to low, the frog will become acclimated to the rising temperature and not be aware of the growing danger. He will be boiled alive. The ELCA has been slowly changing, and it is becoming dangerous.
We have chosen to reject those teachings. We have chosen to keep Jesus at the center of our faith and our worship. I daresay, we have chosen to remain a Christian church. But in making such a choice, the powers of evil have risen against us. They want us to doubt and despair and forget where true power lies.
This lawsuit is outrageous. But we are not the only ones experiencing a lawsuit. There are currently 5 legal battles across the country where the ELCA is trying to take church property. We know that the Lord works in mysterious ways and He has chosen us to accomplish His will. I believe He wants us to raise the alarm that the water is getting hot! He did not choose us because we are better than anybody else or have more integrity or honor. The Lord knows that we are a sinful people. The difference is that we also know that we are sinners, that we are in need of forgiveness and that we have found it in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We don’t want to refresh God’s Word; we want God’s Word to refresh us!
On this celebration of Christ the King Sunday, we boldly and joyfully proclaim that Jesus is our King. He is our Lord. He is our Savior. He is our Hope. And He will not fail us.
To Him alone be all glory.
25 November 2012
From Dean Kallenbach -
Folks -- below is an update sent by Anne Carter, the president of Grace Lutheran Church of Eau Claire, regarding the lawsuit filed against the congregation by an ELCA-supported faction of former members and associate members to force the congregation to drop its affiliation to Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ (LCMC). The group also successfully sought an injunction preventing the congregation from passing a budget for 2012, and has frozen access to other assets until such time the suit is decided.
Greetings, While I have not sent out many updates lately, I take this opportunity to let you all know a few things.
Over the past few months, there have been several motions filed with the court. These motions, filed by Amazing Grace, NW Synod and ELCA, have all been in response to Grace's countersuit filed in June. Amazing Grace has filed a motion to dismiss our countersuit. NW Synod and ELCA have filed Motions for Judgment on the Pleadings. In very simple terms, argument has been made that the NW Synod and ELCA should not be enjoined because they claim "ecclesiastical immunity". We have submitted briefs opposing that view.
Judge GaleWyrick will render a decision on these motions some time this fall.
Along with those motions, Tom Guelzow, attorney for NW Synod, has filed sanctions against Grace's attorney, Jay Heit. He claims that Mr. Heit has filed a frivolous lawsuit against NW Synod. A hearing is scheduled for November 21 at 10:00 a.m. in Polk County when Judge GaleWyrick will rule whether sanctions should be imposed.
At the request of Council, Mr. Heit has prepared a motion to the court asking for lifting of the temporary injunction against Grace so that, if necessary, Grace may use some of the monies in the Mission Endowment Fund to cover any cashflow shortage that may present itself during the remainder of 2012.
There is a possibility that Judge GaleWyrick will take the opportunity to render a decision on all these motions at the November 21 hearing. This could be a very important hearing as the direction of the lawsuit could be decided that morning.
Wednesday, November 21, is the day before Thanksgiving. I know that it will be difficult for some to attend the hearing, but I hope that there are many who will be able to make the trip and support our attorney and our cause.
Polk County Courthouse
November 21, 2012
Thanks very much for your continued support.
In His Service,
Below is a letter from St. Mark's Lutheran Church (Marion, Iowa) church council president and senior pastor indicating that this ELCA and LCMC dual-affiliated church has been removed from the ELCA roster of churches by the Southeastern Iowa Synod Council.
April 24, 2012
There is one 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.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
As you know, the church council has been in continuing conversations with Bishop Michael Burk regarding our denominational affiliation. It has been and continues to be our desire to keep you up to date. We were informed yesterday that on Saturday, April 21, the Southeast Iowa ELCA Synod Council removed St. Mark’s congregation from the roster of ELCA churches. St. Mark’s remains a Lutheran church, our building remains the property of St. Mark’s, and our congregation’s mission continues as before. We neither celebrate nor grieve the synod’s actions, but we desire to listen to those who may be hurting or confused as a result of these actions.
After the decisions of the ELCA church-wide assembly in 2009, our congregation spent much time studying our denominational affiliation. Our congregational votes to leave the ELCA ultimately resulted in St. Mark’s remaining part of the ELCA. To bring healing and unity to our church family, the church council held discussions with congregational members and Bishop Burk, and reviewed the precedent set by other congregations who are dual-affiliated. After these actions, the church council voted to join Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ (LCMC) while remaining in the ELCA.
Soon after St. Mark’s dual affiliation with the ELCA and the LCMC, the synod placed our congregation under censure and admonishment. In addition, Pastor Fruhling was recently removed from the clergy roster of ELCA pastors. The synod’s unprecedented action to remove St. Mark’s from the ELCA because of our dual affiliation is saddening and disappointing. We remain a distinctly Lutheran congregation in the Cedar Rapids area as a part of the LCMC, and we belong to no one but Christ.
St. Mark’s will continue to support and work with our brothers and sisters in the ELCA and remain faithful to our mission partners in the ELCA, such as CrossRoads Mission, San Lucas and Cristo Rey Lutheran churches in Texas and Mexico, and World Hunger Appeals, among others. Our focus remains on outreach and our mission is to share Christ’s love with others.
We will continue our pastoral call process and begin to look at constitutional updates that will be needed. While there are challenges ahead, there are opportunities for strengthening our witness as the body of Christ, and we are confident that St. Mark’s will move forward in mission for our Lord.
Yours in Christ,
Previous article about St. Mark's Lutheran Church:
- Dual Rostered Church Censured, Pastor De-Rostered By ELCA Bishop (see here)
Over 500 churches have left the ELCA over the last two years. With this in mind, Exposing the ELCA invited some congregations who have left the denomination to share their story, their experience, their journey.
Here is the first, of what we hope to be many, stories posted. St. Paul Lutheran Church’s “Journey into the Light.” Read here.
St. Paul Lutheran Church is in Oregon, Illinois - http://stpaul13.com
Contact me if you are interested in telling us your congregation’s story.
I received this update from a friend.
Much is happening with the confessional Lutheran movement in Wisconsin. Here are some highlights - please pray God's guidance and glory be demonstrated in each of these circumstances:
If you haven’t seen this, Bishop Hanson released a statement saying that he "appreciated" President Obama's controversial Israel - Palestinian speech. Read this blog for more.
If you have information, articles or blogs you would like Exposing the ELCA to consider posting, you can send them by using our new “Submit Information” page. (see here)
Did you know that the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago (ELCA) has a Center of Christian-Muslim Engagement for Peace and Justice (CCME)? The Center’s mission statement is “A Center of Christian-Muslim Engagement for Peace and Justice (CCME) at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago (LSTC) fosters and deepens relations between Christians and Muslims as a significant part of its larger purpose of building bridges of mutual understanding, respect and cooperation among people of all faiths.” (see here)
The April issue of The Lutheran magazine (ELCA) recommends utilizing the teachings of noted pastor, Rob Bell. (see here)
Bell was recently featured in Time Magazine regarding his highly controversial new book, Love Wins, promoting the idea of universalism, that everyone will go to heaven. (see here)
Below is a television report on St. James Lutheran Church in Greenfield, IN, which recently voted to leave the ELCA and join the NALC. Also included is a link to a radio interview with St. James’ pastor, Larry Gember.
Fox Network News in Indianapolis (watch here)
Radio WIBC in Indianapolis (listen here)
In a previous blog we told you about Rev. Gember and St. James Lutheran church. (read here) Here is their latest update. - "Greenfield church splits from affiliation over gay clergy"
Read and learn about one churches' process of leaving the ELCA. This has a ton of great information for all ELCA churches that are considering this.
How We Left the ELCA and THRIVED
The story of Peace Lutheran Church of Palm Bay, Florida
May, 2010 By The Rev. Dr. Daniel G. Gilbert
click to read
Faith Lutheran Church in Illinois has taken their two required votes to leave the ELCA. Next up, "the constitution of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America states that congregations of which the predecessor body was the Lutheran Church in America (ELCA Constitution 9.62g) must receive permission from the synod to leave the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America."
The following link is Faith Lutheran's account of the "exit interview." Read about it.
Here is a blog written by a pastor who's church decided to leave the ELCA - Requiem for a Relationship
Hello council members and friends,
I found some information I want to share with you as we respond to the ELCA decision on homosexuality.
This information comes from Community Church of Joy in Glendale, AZ (one of the largest ELCA churches in America) and their reasoning for leaving the ELCA. It gives a couple of reasons that we have not looked at. They voted 129 to 0 to leave the ELCA in Sept. 2009.
I trust the council will read the 5 links I've provided as I believe they relate to us, they speak for a lot of our church members concerning the ELCA's views on scripture and will be helpful for our decisions process (and they are short)
Here are the links.
- http://www.dakotavoice.com/2009/09/another-large-church-leaves-elca-over-unbiblical-stance/ - here is a news article about CCOJ leaving. It has some quotes from their senior pastor.
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