The following is a letter from both the council president and senior pastor of St. Mark's Lutheran Church in Marion, Iowa. (elca.org lists St. Mark's average attendance at 961)
March 27, 2012
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
Dear Partners of St. Mark’s,
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,
3/30/2012 04:18:15 am
The problem being that ELCA has already stated through the ELCA Church Sec, that duel memberships are no longer allowed.
3/30/2012 11:46:47 am
Why would any true Church desire to be affiliated with the apostate ELCA in any manner?
4/1/2012 09:47:53 am
Amen. The friendship of the world is enmity with God (James 4:4), and the ELCA is about as worldly as you can get.
3/30/2012 01:49:38 pm
Actually Don that's not true. Neither Bishop Hanson nor Secretary Swartling can unilaterally decide that duel-rostering is prohibited. While the ELCA constitution nowhere allows for duel-rostering neither does it prohibit it anywhere. That's why there were many ELCA/LCMC duel-rostered congregations prior to Aug 2009. After Aug 2009, knowing that there would be much interest in duel-rostering due to the apostate decisions made at CWA 2009, Secretary Swartling tried to instill fear in congregations by telling them that they could not duel-roster and if they did they would be removed. Yet to this day there remains duel-rostered congregations. It was nothing but a bullying tactic by Swartling. Notice that St Marks was not removed but censured. That's because the synod recognizes that St Marks is probably a congregation where there is a large majority, but not quite two-thirds who support leaving, and that if they kick St Mark's out that would be enough to convince more than enough of the no votes that St Mark's should just leave the ELCA anyway. It's pure cowardice.
3/30/2012 10:49:04 pm
I agree with RevSteve, apparently a man of courage. I understand dual-rostering for borderline churches. But that means churches are not educating member of the actions and soul of the ELCA. Pastors cannot do it becaused they are being bullied by synod bishops and threatened with all kinds of punishment. It has to be a lay-led teaching and it has to be ongoing.
4/14/2012 03:21:43 pm
I applaud you. What the ELCA has done...banishes or bullies anyone who dares to disagree with the almighty pharisees (leadership). Humm...not very Christian behavior is it now? They forget that the one and true Almight God is watching, and just like the foolish pharisees, they too will be individuallly judged one day. Our church's mission should be to spread the Good News of the gospels, that GOD's sent his son...that GOD is still in charge, his laws didn't just disappear because Jesus himself refers to them.
Church Council Member
9/25/2012 06:46:41 pm
Our church is a member of the Fla.-Bahama Synod in central Fla. I want to tell you of the double standard that exists with our Bishop and the ELCA regarding human sexuality. Our pastor, who left a lucrative business career, entered Southern Seminary and became a Pastor because he felt compelled by the Lord to serve His church. Ours was his first church and he is full of energy and passion for Christ. The congregation has tripeled in membership during his tenure, he established a food bank in the parsonage for many needy families, has collections for school supplies and Xmas gifts, and works long hours visiting hospitals and shut-ins and is loved by 99% of the congregation. Now let me tell what has happened to him. He was single when he first came to us, then crossed paths with a woman he dated in high school and found he still had feelings for, this woman told him that her marriage was over for some time and she was about to file for divorce. She and the Pastor began dating and were married about a year after the divorce. Things went well for a while then deteriorated. He was good to her children,even providing college tuition. She made demands for a house, pool, etc. which he provided. I guess he realized that he was only a means of support and filed for divorce about four years into the marriage. She lost every legal battle in court and got nothing. She then went to the bishop and said they had premarital sex and he took advantage of her. He was charged before a disiplinary commitee and will be removed as a rostered ELCA minister shortly. When the bishop was asked at a congregational meeting why it was permissible for an openly gay pastor in southern Fla., who was not in accordance with the Constitution, to keep his position two years prior to the 2009 convention ruling allowing gay pastors, he said it was because he was in a committed monogamous relationship with his partner and it was okay because Fla. doesn't recognize same sex marrige. I fail to see why one sin is worse than another in this case. Jesus told the woman at the well she was forgiven for adultery and I don't recall angels, fire and brimstone coming down on her town. There is a strong stench here and it may be coming from dying ELCA churches.
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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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