I recently attended Shepherd Of The Hills Church in Flagstaff, AZ. The senor pastor is Susan Swanson and the teaching pastor is her husband Tim Swanson. I attended the church service on Dec. 9, 2012 and also the Bible study taught by Tim. I was grieved in my spirit when I asked him a direct question if he believed if Jesus is God? His response was “that's a hard question." He also told this class that "it wasn't important that Jesus was born of a virgin." I responded "Yes it is important that Jesus was born of a virgin and it does matter, because Jesus came to fulfill all the prophecies!" He said he didn't want to argue. I told him he would be arguing with the Word of God. He also cited the gnostic gospels (the gospel of Thomas) as if it were Gospel! Galatians 1:4-9. The senor pastor, his wife was also listening to the conversation and jokingly warned her husband "you better be careful you might lose your job" (I say he should!). The adults in the Bible study laughed. I wanted to stand up and face the people and say "are you really paying them to teach you heresies? That isn't funny because the joke is on you!" The next Sunday I attended the service and then the Christmas program showing how other people celebrated Christmas in different parts of the world; including Befana from Italy, who is a witch. Befana was visited by the wise men and they asked her if she wanted to go and search for baby Jesus and she told them no but after they left she decided that she would, so she flew on her broomstick from house to house in search of Jesus but never did find him. A little girl about 9yrs. was dressed up like Befana including broomstick and all! Wow, I never knew that did you? I think Jesus referred to such teachers as "a brood of vipers!" This program was put together by the Rev. Susan Swanson.
For those that may be wondering, Befana the witch is an old European story that was made into a book called, The Legend of Old Befana. Barnes and Noble's overview of the book says this, "The celebration of Befana, who flies across the sky on Twelfth Night, leaving cakes and cookies for children as they sleep, is a beloved story in Europe. It is timeworn only by its many versions, and Tomie dePaola's retelling is unique in its resplendent settings and carefully researched detail. His story also broadens the character of the eccentric old recluse of the small Italian village, who is always sweeping. While Befana is sometimes called a witch. . ." (see here)
So let me recap this. According to an eye witness, in an ELCA church where a pastor apparently finds it hard to confirm the Bible's testimony that Jesus is God and that Jesus was born of a virgin, there was a Christmas program that included a child playing a broom-flying witch. This is what happens people, when our faith leaders do not hold Scripture as being from God and Truth. This is what happens when ELCA leadership makes themselves the arbitrators of what is true and what isn't. Also notice that this church's members seem to go along with the false teaching, like sheep being led to the slaughter.
I pray that God would open the eyes of all ELCA members so they could see that they are being led astray, led away from God, some slowly and some in extremely dramatic ways, by the leadership of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.