Conservative Lutherans are threatening
to leave the Lutheran Church over gay issues.
Last month, the Evangelical Lutheran
Church in America (ELCA), the largest Lutheran denomination in
America with nearly 5 million members, dropped its 20-year-old ban on
partnered gay and lesbian clergy. Previously, gay clergy were
welcome in the church but were required to remain celibate. It also
approved a little-noticed gay unions resolution during its meeting in
While the gay unions resolution brings
the church closer to blessing gay unions, it remains hazy enough to
have gone mostly unnoticed. It only says that the church has
committed itself to finding a way to recognize and support gay
Opponents of the changes will meet this
weekend in Indianapolis. Members of Lutheran CORE will consider
altering its fundamental mission of reforming the ELCA from within to
competing against it.
Attendees will vote on a resolution
that calls for the formation of a “free-standing synod” separate
from the ELCA and encourage congregations to withhold their donations
from the ELCA.
“We are not leaving the ELCA,” Rev.
Mark Chavez, director of Lutheran CORE, said in the group's latest
newsletter. “The ELCA has left us.”
On Wednesday, the presiding bishop of
the ELCA warned that such actions would be “devastating” to the
Bishop Mark Hanson wrote in a pastoral
letter posted at the church's website: “Although these actions are
promoted as a way to signal opposition to churchwide assembly actions
or even to punish the voting members who made them, the result will
be wounds that we inflict on ourselves, our shared life, and our
mission in Christ.”
Conservatives say their concerns are
not about acceptance of gay men and lesbians but whether the ELCA has
turned its back on Church Scripture.
“This disagreement is not about sex,”
Chavez says. “It is about the source of authority in the ELCA.
The assembly's sexuality decisions have opened the eyes of people to
the biblical and theological crisis in the ELCA.”
Lutheran CORE says 1,200 people have
registered for its weekend convention, prompting organizers to move
the event to a larger venue. Ironically, the new venue is a Roman