Archivos de la categoría ‘LUTHERAN CORE’


By Pastor Dennis Nelson

The Lutheran CORE Steering Committee seeks to remind congregations of the challenge that Lutheran CORE makes to member congregations to support one local and one international mission partner. This article continues the narrative of congregations that are making this kind of direct mission connection.

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Alfredo Casillas (left) passes out vegetables at Pueblo de Dios’ weekly food  distribution for the community. All photos courtesy of Pastor Samuel Nieva.  

PUEBLO DE DIOS DYNAMIC LUTHERAN LATINO MINISTRY

When Pastor Samuel Nieva came to Compton, California, in 2003, he faced a depressing situation. Before Pueblo de Dios was founded, the previous Lutheran Latino congregation at that location closed because of a bad reputation in the community. Then the Southwest California Synod slated the church building for demolition. All of this took place in one of the country’s poorest communities, with high unemployment as well as other severe social problems.

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Praise team musicians Ana Nieva and Irving Beltran leading the music at  Pueblo de Dios worship.

An article in the April 2012 issue of CORE Connection told of the work that Pastor Nieva has done to build one of the most thriving and dynamic Lutheran Latino ministries in Los Angeles. About 150 people attend worship every Sunday, and Pastor Nieva combines strong Gospel preaching with compassionate social outreach. This article provides an update on this congregation and its ministries, which take seriously Jesus’ call to all of us to be and to make disciples.

YOU ARE NOT ALONE

Pueblo de Dios meets in a building that is owned by the Southwest California Synod of the ELCA. Because the majority of the people living around the church have a very low income or are without work altogether, much of Pastor Nieva’s salary is paid by the ELCA national office and the Southwest California Synod, with some of the funds also coming from Pueblo de Dios. So the church faced a real crisis last May when the synod elected an openly gay bishop.

When asked how the congregation responded, Pastor Nieva told me that many members were very confused, discouraged, and upset at first. They felt deserted. They now feel that Lutheran CORE came as God’s answer. Pastor Steve Shipman, director of Lutheran CORE, visited and told them, “You are not alone.” Pastor Nieva shared, “He extended his hand as a friend and brother in Christ.”

Pueblo de Dios is now asking God for wisdom as they seek to defend the Word of God while remaining within the ELCA. They believe that others will be watching them as they seek to be faithful in their situation. These others then will be encouraged to be faithful in their own situations.

“TO BE A BIBLICAL AND CONSERVATIVE CHURCH IS AND SHOULD BE RESPETABLE OPTION”

I asked Pastor Nieva to describe the current relationship between Pueblo de Dios and the Southwest California Synod. He replied that there should be a relationship of mutual respect and that the synod should support ethnic ministries that are working hard and serving faithfully while maintaining a strong belief in the authority of the Bible. I remember the worship service in May of 2011 when Pueblo de Dios was officially organized as a congregation. Bishop Dean Nelson, who was then serving as synod bishop, commented that this was the first ethnic mission during his two terms as bishop that had grown to the point that it was able to organize as a congregation.

Pastor Nieva shared, “To be a biblical and conservative church is and should be a respectable option. We should not be ridiculed or misinterpreted as homophobic.” He then added, “Discrimination is not part of the kingdom of God. We invite everyone, while also calling on all people to repent. Overcoming sin by God’s saving grace is the only option that every human being has to live the abundant life that Jesus offers.”

PUEBLO DE DIOS IS A HOLISTIC URBAN MINISTRY

Pastor Nieva described his work at Pueblo de Dios as experiencing “the life of the ‘Third World’ in the ‘First World.’” Some of his people are documented, while others are not. Many of them only stay in the community for a short time, until they are able to improve their situation, and then they move elsewhere. Pastor Nieva shared, “It is unethical for me to ask them to contribute 10% of their welfare check, if they cannot even afford to buy tortillas and milk every day for their families.” Many of these people live in garages. “What they give, they give with all their love and sacrifice. Some of them are like the widow who put in the basket all the money that she had – two coins.” He then added, “We live and work within the ‘Fourth World’ of the poor, but with the reality and economic demands of the ‘First World.’”

Combine this situation with the fact that Pueblo de Dios meets in a synod-owned building and is pastored by a Churchwide- and synod-funded pastor, and you can see why the congregation is very dependent upon the ELCA and the Southwest California Synod. Pastor Nieva was very happy to receive the good news that the synod will continue to support Pueblo de Dios for another year.

“WE ARE CALLED TO BE DISCIPLES AND TO MAKE DISCIPLES”

One of the most exciting new ministry developments at Pueblo de Dios concerns two women leaders of the congregation who enrolled at an interdenominational Hispanic Center for Theological Studies in preparation for pastoral ministry. One of them will be graduating very soon and will then begin a degree program at Fuller Seminary in Pasadena. The other one is finishing her pre-ministerial preparation. Pastor Nieva commented, “We do not have a local Lutheran seminary to help prepare new Latino pastors in their native language.” Pastor Nieva has had conversations with the synod about the need for solid Lutheran theological training, combined with strong Biblical education, all within the Spanish language. He feels that a good option is the Hispanic Center for Theological Studies administered by the Covenant Church, which has its roots in the Scandinavian Lutheran Church.

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Seminarian Maria Montalvo, one of two Pueblo de Dios leaders attending the  interdenominational Hispanic Center for Theological Studies, prays with a  parishioners

When aked where these women will be serving, Pastor Nieva replied, “We have many Lutheran Latino churches without pastors. They will be qualified to serve there.” He would also like to raise up more trained, Spanish-speaking church leaders to serve as missionaries who will plant new, Spanish-speaking Lutheran churches. He said, “We are called to be disciples and to make disciples. Jesus did not train his disciples to be members of a community. He trained them to share the good news of salvation.” His vision is the raising up of a new generation of Spanish-speaking Lutheran pastors, “with deep biblical preparation in their native language, to renew the biblical identity of the Lutheran church.”

CREATING A BIBLICALLY-FAITHFUL NETWORK

I am a part of a group of confessional, biblically-faithful, ELCA Lutheran pastors who are meeting with Pastor Nieva for fellowship and mutual support. Several of these pastors are members of Lutheran CORE. One is serving in a congregation that has a Spanish-speaking ministry and is hoping that Pueblo de Dios will be raising up leaders for his and other ministry situations. Pastor Nieva is looking for more congregations throughout the United States that share his passions, priorities, and concerns. He sees Lutheran CORE as playing a decisive role in creating these connections.

Pastor Nieva is also very grateful for the opportunity he had to speak at last summer’s Lutheran CORE Convocation during the Mission Connect presentation and workshop, as well as at the NALC Convocation. He said, “Steve Shipman was very clear when he said, ‘Not only send your help; go to Pueblo de Dios and experience their live testimony. Be recharged with the new blood that God wants for the Lutheran church when you visit Pueblo de Dios.’”

Pueblo de Dios Lutheran Church and Pastor Samuel Nieva are worthy of our prayers and financial support. They may be contacted at:

Pueblo de Dios Lutheran Church

804 East Rosecrans Avenue

Compton, CA 90221

(310) 608-2795

pueblodedioslutheran@gmail.com

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Por el Pastor Steve Shipman

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Mi predicción es que en el año 2014:

•  Los medios de comunicación se habrán movido más allá de Phil Robertson y la Dinastía Duck en encontrar alguna nueva causa para la ofensa.

•  El reverendo Frank Schaefer (que fue apartado del sacerdocio por la Iglesia Metodista  Unida por negarse a seguir el Libro de Disciplina con respecto a los temas LGBT) ganara más dinero  hablando en  giras  que él jamás haría sirviendo a su parroquia.

•  Admiradores de Francisco, no se han dado cuenta de que el Papa es católico.

• Todos nosotros que sostenemos los valores morales tradicionales aún no sabemos cómo presentar nuestro caso a nuestra cultura.

Hace muchos años el piadoso Teólogo luterano James Burtness me tomó por sorpresa al decir que si permitimos que los heterosexuales  puedan hacer lo que les plazca, nuestra prohibición de la conducta homosexual es un fenómeno de justicia social. Él no estaba a favor de las relaciones entre personas del mismo sexo, estaba resaltando que la rampante inmoralidad que estaba siendo aceptada en las iglesias ya entonces (alrededor de hace treinta años) hace nuestras objeciones a las relaciones del mismo sexo no creíbles.

La atracción de la familia Robertson en Dynasty Duck (un espectáculo que nunca he visto y no planeo ver) no son los comentarios crudos que el   patriarca de la familia hizo sobre la homosexualidad o sus declaraciones ignorantes sobre la raza. Sospecho que ver a una familia, que al parecer vive valores sólidos en una atmósfera de amor y disfruta de hacerlo, es la razón de su popularidad. La gente como ellos,  no por lo que pueden estar en contra,  pero por la forma en que viven-una especie de siglo  veintiuno de Leave It to Beaver o Papá lo sabe todo, pero con más pelo.

El movimiento pro-vida tomó décadas para darse cuenta de que sus tácticas eran contraproducentes. Protestas bulliciosas en las clínicas de aborto alimentaron la mentira de que la gente pro-vida eran peligrosos y violentos, aunque la verdad es que los pro-vida eran mucho más a menudo al extremo receptores de los ataques de violencia.

Del mismo modo, los comentarios de Phil Robertson no cambian la mente de  cualquiera, pero ellos apoyan la acusación de que los que estamos abogando por valores  cristianos tradicionales  son personas llenas de odio que injustamente oprimen e intimidan a  “las minorías sexuales.” Si usted está leyendo esto, usted sabe tan bien como yo que esas acusaciones no son ciertas a excepción de una pequeña, pero pequeña minoría de personas que constantemente se avergüenzan del resto de nosotros.

El problema con el Pastor Schaefer ha sido presentado regularmente en mi noticiero local, ya que su casa está a menos de una hora de la mía. No tengo ninguna duda de que el Pastor Schaefer ama profundamente a su hijo gay, como yo amo al mío, y que él cree que él apoya a un grupo de personas que son injustamente discriminadas. El hecho de que esto dividirá la  denominación United Methodist mundial, si él tiene éxito, se pierde en nuestro Etnocentrismo Norteamericano.

El verdadero carácter de algunos de  los activistas se muestran mediante las rabietas (extrañamente ignorados en los  informes de los medios), que incluye tirar sillas, así como por sus amenazas de hacer todo lo posible para interrumpir eventos denominacionales hasta que se salen con la suya.

¡Nosotros NO nos atrevemos a ser así!

En primer lugar, tenemos que poner nuestra propia casa en orden. Necesitamos orar y comprometernos a amar a nuestros propios cónyuges e hijos, y si es soltero, hay que observar castidad en nuestras vidas. Tenemos que mostrar a la gente con nuestro ejemplo que la sexualidad es un hermoso regalo de un Dios amoroso, que Él nos dio para solidificar la fidelidad de toda la vida de un hombre y una mujer, y que es el ambiente más saludable en el cual se transmite la fe y los valores morales de una generación a otra. Muchos de nosotros tenemos que arrepentirnos de nuestra complicidad en la “revolución sexual” que comenzó en la década de 1920 y fue normalizado por los años 60. Tenemos que ser honesto acerca de nuestros propios fracasos a ” temer y amar a Dios de modo que el sexo, nuestras palabras y conducta sean puras y honorable, y el esposo y la esposa  se amen y se respetarnos mutuamente”. (Martin Lutero, Catecismo Menor)

Necesitamos tomar tiempo para conseguir y  conocer gente gay y lesbianas. Yo he sido sorprendido por  hombres homosexuales jóvenes que han confiado en mí y compartieron sus luchas personales. Ellos conocen mi posición a su estilo de vida, y yo necesitaba  orar acerca de cómo responder. La respuesta que recibí fue: “Tú los amas, yo soluciono. “Los Robertson tendrán más impacto si hablan menos y dejan que sus vidas sean su mejor argumento.

Los hombres gay que he tenido el privilegio de hablar con ellos no han sido estridentes, ellos han experimentado gran angustia, ya que han intentado cambiar sin éxito. Creo que a veces Dios nos quita deseos pecaminosos, pero otras veces Él dice como lo hizo con St. Paul, “mi gracia es suficiente para ti. “(2 Corintios 12:09) La gente que luchan con atracciones hacia el mismo sexo necesitan nuestro amor y nuestra amistad, no nuestra condenación. Cada uno de nosotros peleamos con nuestros propios demonios, y sólo en la cruz de Jesús nosotros encontramos  la victoria.

Para este nuevo año, les pido a todos nosotros en Lutheran CORE proteger nuestro palabras cuidadosamente y nuestras acciones, aún más. No vamos a discutir con las personas para que cambien sus actitudes acerca de la sexualidad. Sin embargo, nuestras vidas pueden ser testigos poderosos, guiando a otros a buscar el amor y la estabilidad que Dios crea en nosotros. Di la verdad, sí, pero  hablando con amor. (Efesios 04:15) y el cuerpo de Cristo será construido en el poder de la Palabra de Dios y el Espíritu.

Pr. Steve Shipman, director of Lutheran CORE, puede ser localizado  al  570-916-7780   o  sshipman@lutherancore.org.


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I predict that in 2014:

-The media will have moved beyond Phil Robertson and Duck Dynasty to find some new cause for offense.

-The Rev. Frank Schaefer (who was defrocked by the United Methodist Church for refusing to follow the Book of Discipline regarding LGBT issues) will make more money on speaking tours than he ever made serving his parish.

-Adoring fans of Francis will not have figured out that the Pope is Catholic.

-And those of us who hold to traditional moral values will still not know how to make our case to our culture.

Many years ago the sainted Lutheran theologian James Burtness caught me off guard by saying that if we allow heterosexuals to do anything they please, our prohibition of homosexual conduct is a social justice issue. He was not in favor of same-sex relationships; he was pointing out that the rampant immorality that was being accepted in churches even then (roughly thirty years ago) made our objections to same-sex relationships not credible.

The attraction of the Robertson family on Duck Dynasty (a show that I have never watched and don’t plan to) is not the crude comments the family patriarch made about homosexuality or his ignorant statements about race. I suspect that seeing a family, which apparently lives out solid values in an atmosphere of love and enjoys doing it, is the reason for its popularity. People like them not for what they may be against but for the way they live—sort of a twenty first century version of Leave It to Beaver or Father Knows Best but with more hair.

The pro-life movement took decades to realize that its tactics were self-defeating. Boisterous protests at abortion clinics fueled the lie that pro-life people were dangerous and violent, although the truth is that pro-lifers were far more often on the receiving end of violent attacks.

Similarly, comments such as Phil Robertson’s do not change anybody’s mind, but they support the accusation that those of us advocating traditional Christian values are hateful people who unjustly oppress and bully those in “sexual minorities.” If you are reading this, you know as well as I do that those accusations are not true except for a tiny, tiny minority of people who constantly embarrass the rest of us.

The issue with Pastor Schaefer has been featured regularly in my local newscasts, since his home is less than an hour from mine.

I have no doubt that Pastor Schaefer deeply loves his gay son, as I do mine, and that he believes he is supporting a group of people who are unjustly discriminated against. The fact that it will split the global United Methodist denomination if he is successful is lost in our North American ethnocentrism.

The true character of some of the activists was shown by their temper tantrum (strangely overlooked in media reports) that included throwing chairs, as well as by their threats to do everything they can to disrupt denominational events until they get their way.

We dare not be like that!

First, we need to get our own houses in order. We need to pray and commit to love our own spouses and children or, if single, to observe chastity in our lives. We need to show people by our example that sexuality is a beautiful gift from a loving God, which He gave us to solidify the lifelong faithfulness of a man and a woman, and which is the healthiest atmosphere in which to pass on faith and moral values from one generation to another.

Many of us need to repent of our complicity in the “sexual revolution,” which began in the 1920s and was normalized by the 60s. We need to be honest about our own failings to “fe r and love God so that in matters of sex our words and conduct are pure and honorable, and husband and wife love and respect each other.” (Martin Luther, Small Catechism)

And we need to take time to get to know gay and lesbian people. I have been surprised by the young gay men who have confided in me and shared their personal struggles. They know my position on their lifestyle, and I needed to pray about how to respond. The answer I received was, “You love them; I’ll fix them.” The Robertsons will have more impact if they speak less and let their lives be their best argument.

The gay men I have been privileged to talk with have not been strident, and they have experienced great anguish as they have tried unsuccessfully to change. I believe that sometimes God takes away our sinful desires, but other times He says as He did to St. Paul, “my grace is sufficient for you.” (2 Corinthians 12:9) Folks struggling with same-sex attractions need our love and our friendship, not our condemnation. Each of us battles our own demons, and only in the cross of Jesus do we find victory.

For this New Year, I ask all of us in Lutheran CORE to guard our words carefully and our actions even more so. We are not going to argue people into changing their attitudes about sexuality. But our lives can be a powerful witness, leading others to seek the love and stability God creates in us. Speak the truth, yes, but speak it in love. (Ephesians 4:15) And the Body of Christ will be built up in the power of God’s Word and Spirit.

 

Pr. Steve Shipman, director of Lutheran CORE, can be reached at 570-916-7780 or sshipman@lutherancore.org.


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Por el  Pastor Cori Johnson

Lutheran CORE es sólo lo que dice que es: Una coalición Luterana para la Renovación. Nuestra membrecía es amplia incluyendo fieles luteranos en Augsburg Lutheran Church, ELCA, ELCIC, LCMC, LCMS, NALC, y otros. Yo sirvo como presidenta de un  grupo especifico de trabajo en Lutheran  CORE en la ELCA -ahora renombrado como Testigo en la ELCA -y este artículo es dirigido en particular a los fieles luteranos que se encuentran viviendo y sirviendo a Jesucristo en la ELCA. Tengo un mensaje importante hoy: ¡No estás solo! Este mensaje fue el tema de mis declaraciones en el 2013 en la convocatoria de Lutheran CORE en Pittsburgh, PA. El mensaje era verdadero en Agosto, y no es menos cierto  hoy. ¡Usted no está solo!

Entiendo lo solitario que  puede ser el servir como pastor o fiel laico en la ELCA. No pasa una  semana en la que no soy desafiado personalmente por alguien, a defender mi decisión de  “quedarme aún” en la ELCA. Yo recibo este cuestionamiento tanto de los que ya han salido de la ELCA y de aquellos que desean que  simplemente me debería de ir y dejarlos solos ¡ya! Tal vez algunos de ustedes al leer este artículo puedan identificarse.

Mi palabra de esperanza es para usted es que usted no está solo. Este es el  Mensaje más  importante que puedo dar a cualquier luterano confeso  y Ortodoxo que se encuentran en la ELCA. Sé de primera mano cómo se siente el quedarse en la ELCA,  puede experimentar-con cierta regularidad- como un vagabundo,  un extraño en el desierto. Después de todo yo serví en el Grupo de Estudios de la ELCA sobre la sexualidad.

Pero en verdad, ¡no estás solo!  Lutheran CORE  sirve para conectarse  con otros s Luteranos ortodoxos confesionales, tanto dentro de la ELCA y como en otros cuerpos de la iglesia. Específicamente, testigos en  la ELCA se reúnen regularmente por teleconferencia para trabajar en su nombre. Hacemos una variedad de trabajos relacionados con la ELCA.

Hemos tenido una presencia en varias asambleas sinodales y en la Asamblea de la Organización  del ELCA en 2013. Recientemente se hizo un llamamiento al liderazgo de la ELCA para dejar a un lado un mes de la celebración del 25 ° aniversario para la reflexión y el autoexamen. Nos hemos comprometido nosotros mismos a las siguientes estrategias para colaborar con el ELCA, como encomendamos nuestro trabajo a nuestro Señor Jesucristo, el Señor de toda la Iglesia:

 

• Mantener  en frente de la ELCA lo que se ha dicho acerca de los que están en desacuerdo con los cambios ministeriales del  2009 y los que tienen un entendimiento tradicional del matrimonio.

•  Estar presente en las asambleas sinodales a través de mesas de exhibición, talleres, y ser testigo en el piso de la asamblea.

 

• Estar omnipresente donde la  gente de la ELCA se reúne, incluyendo la Organización Nacional de Asambleas, asambleas sinodales, y conferencias de pastores.

• Considerando ser reconocido por la ELCA ya sea como un organización intra- luterana o solicitar el estatuto de la ILO.

• El envío de un representante de Lutheran CORE a las Reuniones del Consejo de la Iglesia del ELCA.

• Seguimiento a  la falta de respeto de la conciencia unida de ortodoxos luteranos.

•Y conectar en la ELCA a Luteranos de mentalidad similar mientras convirtamos  en un centro de intercambio de información y recursos ortodoxos,  Oremos por nuestro trabajo juntos!

Manténgase conectado a Lutheran CORE a través de nuestro sitio web, newsletter, Facebook, cuenta de Twitter, y eventos.

Debido a Lutheran CORE, usted no tiene ninguna razón para pensar que la suya es la única voz para la ortodoxia  Luterana dentro de la ELCA. Hay fuerza en todo nosotros! No  está solo! Demos gracias a Dios por Lutheran CORE!

 

 

Pr. Cori Johnson preside ELCA Testigo, un grupo de trabajo del comité de la  dirección Lutheran CORE. Ella es pastor de la Iglesia Luterana en Getsemaní Wallace, Michigan, y San Esteban Iglesia Luterana en Stephenson, Michigan Pr. Johnson puede ser contactada en pastorcori@hotmail.com.

You are not alone!

Publicado: enero 20, 2014 en Luteranismo, LUTHERAN CORE, opinión

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By Pastor Cori Johnson

Lutheran CORE is just what it says it is: Lutheran COalition for REnewal. Our membership is broad —including faithful Lutherans in Augsburg Lutheran Churches, ELCA, ELCIC, LCMC,  LCMS, NALC, and others. I serve as chair of the ELCA-Specific Working Group of Lutheran CORE—now renamed ELCA  Witness—and this article is directed particularly at those faithful Lutherans who find themselves living and serving Jesus Christ in the ELCA.

I have an important message for you today: You are not alone! This message was the theme of my remarks at the 2013 Lutheran CORE Convocation in Pittsburgh, PA. The message was true in August, and it is no less true today. You are not alone!

I understand how lonely it can be to serve as a pastor or faithful layperson in the ELCA. Barely a week goes by in which I’m not personally challenged by someone to defend my decision to be a “stayer still” in the ELCA.  I receive this questioning both from those who have already left the ELCA  and from those who wish I would just go and leave them alone already! Perhaps some of you reading this article can relate.

My word of hope for you is that you are not alone. This is the most important message I can give to any orthodox, confessional Lutherans who find themselves in the ELCA. I know firsthand how remaining in the ELCA can make you feel—with some regularity— like a wanderer in a strange wilderness. I served on the Task Force for ELCA Studies on Sexuality, after all.

But truly, you are not alone! Lutheran CORE serves to connect you with other orthodox, confessional Lutherans both within the ELCA and in other church bodies.

Specifically, ELCA  Witness meets regularly by conference call to work on your behalf. We do a variety of work relating to the ELCA. We have had a presence at several synod assemblies and at the ELCA Churchwide Assembly in 2013. We recently called upon the leadership of the ELCA  to set aside one month of the 25th Anniversary celebration for reflection and self-examination. We have committed ourselves to the following strategies for engaging with the ELCA, as we commend our work to our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of the whole Church:

-Keeping in front of the ELCA what it has said about those who disagree with the 2009 ministry changes and those who have a traditional understanding of marriage.

-Being present at synod assemblies through display tables, workshops, and witnessing on the assembly floor.

-Being omnipresent where ELCA  people are gathered, including Churchwide Assemblies, synod assemblies, and pastors’ conferences.

-Considering being recognized by the ELCA as either an intra- Lutheran organization or applying for ILO status.

-Sending a representative of Lutheran CORE to ELCA Church Council meetings.

-Monitoring the disrespect of the bound conscience of orthodox Lutherans.

-And connecting ELCA  Lutherans of like mind while becoming a clearinghouse of information and orthodox resources.

Pray for our work together! Keep yourself connected to Lutheran CORE through our website, newsletter, Facebook page, Twitter account, and events.

Because of Lutheran CORE, you have no reason to feel that yours is the only voice for Lutheran orthodoxy within the ELCA. There is strength in our numbers! You are not alone! Thanks be to God for Lutheran CORE!

 

Pr. Cori Johnson

Chairs ELCA Witness, a task force of the Lutheran CORE steering committee. She is pastor at Gethsemane Lutheran Church in Wallace, Mich., and St. Stephen’s Lutheran Church in Stephenson, Mich. Pr. Johnson can be reached at pastorcori@hotmail.com.

 

Who speaks for you?

Publicado: diciembre 17, 2013 en Iglesia, Luteranismo, LUTHERAN CORE, Pastoral

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By Pastor Paul Ulring
Who speaks for you, for us? “Who speaks for whom?” is a good question for Lutherans in North America. The idea that a denomination “speaks” has evolved over time, it seems. Whether the source of this reality is our life alongside Roman Catholics who have a Pope and ecclesiology that provide such a role—or something else—might
be considered, even debated.

When Lutheran denominational groups were smaller and even more ethnic and geographical, it was a different thing, although I am not aware of many, if any, very prominent social statements from past eras. Perhaps there were. I will probably hear if there were.

Now that we have mega denominations with millions of members and thousands of congregations, is there really a Lutheran process that is possible? Is there really a singular Lutheran “voice” in these times? Beyond Confessions and doctrine and legitimate history, can “this church” really speak for itself, for its members?

The story of American Lutheranism is mostly one of smaller times. The structures and cultures of the churches were not mega, huge, diverse, in spite of some ecclesiastical differences.
The ELCA, for all of its quotas and organizational documents, did little about the church’s real culture and
the expectations that came with it. And in its huge diversity, there are many hearts, minds, and voices.
No one can or should speak for all. It’s problematic enough to make decisions that affect so many and so much diversity.

But the idea, and now functional reality, that a denomination might “speak” or have an official position
that represents ALL of its members is here. When the now-former ELCA Presiding Bishop apologized at the installation of the first gay ELCA bishop for the ELCA taking so long to adopt the ministry changes and allow pastors in same sex relationships to serve and be called, for whom was he speaking? Not me; you?

When a denomination issues social statements, do they speak for ALL who are members of that denomination? The idea has evolved that the church might guide and help its congregations and members by having teaching statements, developed by a variety of processes, including its seminary faculties and a process of research involving special commissions or committees. What began as teaching reports and statements have become, in the view of many, “this church’s” position and official belief. Is that true in reality? Some of us don’t think so.

We believe that there are many ELCA members who don’t believe what their church says is the official position, meaning a summary of what most of its members believe. A thousand people together voting do not speak for the whole church of four million or so members, regardless that a process or constitutional structure says they do. The ELCA has many members who don’t agree. The ELCA does not speak for them.

There are many people who still don’t know what has happened, not only about the ELCA’s 2009 decision and all that has come about since then, but so much more. They don’t know how “this church” has functionally changed its mind and view of Scripture and thousands of years of history. “This church” keeps speaking and acting—but does it speak for all, for you?

Some say that everyone who disagreed has left. Not so, not so at all. There are many who disagree but don’t know what to do with their disagreement. There are more who live so locally that they don’t know what has happened to “their church.” Times are changing culturally, and it’s even more critical that we realize “Who speaks for you?” is not just an intellectual issue.

There is very little recourse in place when “this church” moves forward and assumes the authority to do so. The process is not viable anymore. It may have never been. Dissent is muted; the assumption seems to be that it is gone. Is it? Does the ELCA hierarchy speak for you, for ALL?

Lutheran CORE intends to keep watch as best we can on this question. We intend to connect those who are left behind—and left out—and hoping they are not alone. They are not. We will try to speak for them.

Pr. Paul Ulring, moderator for Lutheran CORE


By Rev. Stéphane M. Kalonji, MDiv, MA; Reformation Lutheran Church, New Bern, North Carolina

Within the past decade, hundreds of Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) congregations have gone through a process that led either the whole congregation or only a few members to leave and join Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ (LCMC) or the North American Lutheran Church (NALC). In many cases this was a rough and painful experience. There is no doubt that our sinful nature has made its mark on a split that has revealed where we stand with regard to the Word of God and the Lutheran Confessions. In many cases, both those staying in the ELCA and those joining the LCMC and NALC acted toward each other in hurtful ways. These continue to hold us captive to the past and to weaken our witness of the saving Gospel to our communities and the world. Fortunately, we have hope of a better future in Jesus Christ, who has given us the ministry of forgiveness and reconciliation.

Forgiveness and reconciliation are at the heart of the Church’s ministry and central in our proclamation of the Gospel, because Jesus Christ came to forgive sins and reconcile us to God the Father. In 2 Cor. 5:18-19, the Apostle Paul teaches us that God has reconciled us to Himself through His Son, and entrusted to us the ministry of reconciliation. God has entrusted this ministry to us not only for those outside the Church but also for us— NALC, LCMC and ELCA— members of the Body of Christ. The sinful attitudes and behaviors that have accompanied our separation call us to exercise this ministry to heal the hurting Body of Christ. In his article “The Father’s Ministry of Reconciliation through His Son” ( The Word at Work, Vol. 2, Easter 2013, p.9), the Rev. Dr. Dan Lioy writes, “The Apostle Paul wanted everyone to know that if they procrastinated—namely, if they delayed in appropriating the Son’s work of reconciliation—their souls would be in mortal jeopardy. For this reason, Paul urged them to embrace and act on the message of reconciliation while they still had the opportunity to do so.” Since many of our congregations split in sinful terms, we are called by the Word of God to act on the message of reconciliation, and to do so while we ELCA , LCMC and NALC: Can we begin the journey toward forgiveness and reconciliation? still have the opportunity—before Satan uses time to harden our hearts and while the members who have sinned against each other still live. Our church bodies therefore need to be intentional and, trusting in God the Holy Spirit to lead, begin the journey toward forgiveness and reconciliation.

The journey toward forgiveness and reconciliation is a process. In his book The Ministry of Reconciliation. Spirituality and Strategies (1998), The Rev. Dr. Robert J. Schreiter presents what this process entails: “First comes repentance on the part of the wrongdoer, then the victim forgives, and then there is reconciliation. There must be some act of apology or acknowledgement or repentance by the wrongdoer. Guilt must be admitted. Then the victim can summon up forgiveness. And then wrongdoer and victim can be reconciled.” (p.64) In my ministry in New Bern, NC, I have used funeral services that brought together members of my congregation and those of the congregation from which we split as an opportunity to share the message of reconciliation. I also invited members of my congregation and the ELCA congregation from which we split to a presentation on forgiveness and reconciliation. Unfortunately, that presentation did not receive the full participation of its intended audience because the members of my congregation were the only ones who attended. This “failure” did not end our efforts to address forgiveness and reconciliation. We will continue to use every opportunity to be ambassadors of reconciliation.

In light of the un-Christian handling of separation that has characterized the process when members of a congregation decide to leave the ELCA and join LCMC or the NALC, our three church bodies are called by the holy Gospel to work, with respect for each group’s identity, on forgiveness and reconciliation. Intentional get- together between members of congregations that have split, to open themselves up to one another on their experiences of separation, can put us on the road to forgiveness and reconciliation. At the “institutional” level, our church bodies could form groups of women and men to pray and help congregations to act on the forgiveness and reconciliation ministry which, as St. Paul says, God has committed to us (2 Cor. 5:18). An organization like Thrivent Financial for Lutherans also could consider going beyond its current focus, to include the ministry of reconciliation. In many places, Thrivent provides a forum that brings together members of the various Lutheran bodies. This forum could be used as an opportunity to address Christian forgiveness and reconciliation

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