We are making contact with the media only reluctantly in order to provide a full perspective on the issue involving our church, about which so many in North Iowa (and beyond) have been reading and hearing. Zion Lutheran’s Council has had an agreement with Bishop Steven Ullestad to not involve the media in our disagreement. However, much to our chagrin, that agreement has been violated by the Bishop in his recent statement to the Globe Gazette and interview with KIMT.
There are several reasons why our congregation’s affiliation with the ELCA has been called into question. These reasons include but are not limited to, Biblical authority, major medical coverage of abortions, and universal salvation. Then in August of 2009 the National Assembly of the ELCA made a decision we feel we cannot live with. Allowing homosexuals in active sexual relationships to be pastors in our denomination is not Biblical and not in agreement with the Lutheran Confessions. In light of these, we proclaim that it would be against our constitution to stay with the ELCA. It would be a violation of our faith statement (Chapter 2) and our purpose as a congregation (Chapter 3). We have not changed our teaching, practices, or our policies. We have not changed our commitment to the authority of God’s Word and the standard of the Lutheran Confessions. The ELCA, however, has changed dramatically and violated its own constitutional faith-statement. Our position is not expressed with any disrespect or enmity towards anyone. All we really want to do is to be found faithful to our God and his Word, the Bible. Because of our stand and our belief that the ELCA’s position is intractable, we wish to leave the ELCA and join another Lutheran church body holding a more Biblical stance.
We have had four votes for that purpose and all have shown that an overwhelming majority of our partners also want to dissolve the relationship with the ELCA. We have made every effort to follow our own constitution’s exit procedure. We have been very flexible in trying to do what the ELCA itself has said about the details of the process. Because 237 partners requested to continue the voting process, we are having one more vote to confirm our exit. Nothing in our own constitution forbids us from doing this. We have sought legal counsel in this matter and have been assured that it is not illegal or unconstitutional for us to even take multiple votes to leave within one calendar year.
Zion does not seek to impose our beliefs and practices upon anyone. Zion has always welcomed all people who seek God’s will for their lives as expressed in the Bible. We do not oppose or seek to persecute the ELCA or any others who want to follow different teachings or beliefs. We do not oppose their freedom to follow their conscience. We only ask for the same freedom to follow our own conscience and then go the direction God is calling us to go.
We are not alone in this conflict. Hundreds of Lutheran congregations are in the process of leaving and thousands more are considering leaving. Zion Lutheran Church stands with these congregations in their determination to remain faithful.