Thursday, March 11, 2010

LC/NA Rejects Resolution from Northeastern Iowa Synod Conference

Today, we became aware that one of the conferences of the Northeastern Iowa Synod has passed a resolution for submission to the assembly of that synod that, if adopted, would require lay and rostered members of Lutheran CORE to resign from any elected positions in the synod and would additionally hold members of CORE ineligible for such positions.

The resolution is quoted:
Resolution from the Upper Iowa River Conference Spring Assembly, February 14, 2010
Whereas the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is a constitutionally governed organization served by constitutionally elected leaders at both the synod and church wide levels, and

Whereas the stated purposes of the organization known as Lutheran CORE are to 1) bring forth a proposal for a new Lutheran church body governed by a new constitution for those who choose to leave the ELCA, and 2) to plan for the continuation of Lutheran CORE as a free-standing synod for all Lutherans, and

Whereas it is an inherent conflict of interest for individuals who are members of CORE to fully and wholeheartedly support the ELCA constitution,

Be it Resolved that: 1) all rostered and lay leaders who are members of CORE and are currently serving in elected positions in the NE Iowa Synod be required to resign from those positions, and that 2) all rostered and lay individuals currently holding membership in CORE be disqualified from election to positions of leadership within the NEIA Synod.

Submitted by the Upper Iowa River Conference of the NEIA Synod, ELCA. Voted on at conference assembly, February 14, 2010
This resolution is completely antithetical to what Lutherans Concerned stands for, and advocates for, in our efforts for full inclusion.

Nothing in what we say, have said, or envision as a fully inclusive church involves excluding anyone for disagreeing with us. Ever.

Visit for a full understanding of what we are about and advocating for.

Regardless of what sparked this resolution into existence, it is very un-Lutheran and should be rejected immediately as such. It certainly is nothing fostered or endorsed by Lutherans Concerned/North America.

Were it to be proposed to any assembly, we would advocate against it.

It’s just very wrong. Very.

Phil Soucy
Director Communications LC/NA


  1. First, a disclaimer. While I am rostered in the NE Iowa Synod, I am not a member of the Upper Iowa River Conference.

    Second, a closer reading. The LC/NA response suggests that the Upper Iowa River Conference voted to recommend excluding those who disagree with recent ELCA actions. Not so. The point is not ethical disagreement but legal responsibility. Pastors and other synod leaders have constitutional responsibilities to support the work of the synod and of the ELCA. The Upper Iowa River Conference resolution says that those who expressly recommend redirecting mission support away from the churchwide organization, as well as the formation of an alternative synod (as does Lutheran CORE, according to its website) are in violation of the constitution, and therefore should not hold synodical offices requiring them to support the constitution.

    How can a member of one synod, even a "free-standing synod," as Lutheran CORE identifies itself, simultaneously hold elected office in a different synod? I don't think members of the Slovak Zion Synod, for example, can serve simultaneously as elected officers of another, geographical synod. There is a difference between being part of a renewal movement within the church and being affiliated with an alternative synodical structure.

    Kit Kleinhans

  2. Mr. Soucy, I was shocked to read your recent posting in criticism of the Upper Iowa Conference calling for the resignation from synod leadership of those in Lutheran CORE. Please tell me that before you put your words together you checked with some of the many fine people who carefully and prayerfully drafted and passed the resolution. For you to suggest that the resolution is "un-Lutheran" is over the top. CORE is opposed and non-supportive of the ELCA. Would you welcome into leadership positions of LC/NA those who are opposed to LC/NA? Would you welcome them if they openly encouraged Lutherans to withhold financial support of LC/NA? CORE doesn't merely disagree with the ELCA. It opposes the ELCA.

  3. Dear Kit and "Blogmeister":

    Thanks for your comments. We know that many in the ELCA have worries about what Lutheran CORE is doing. These are trying times for sure.

    It is the view of Lutherans Concerned/North America (LC/NA) that our consciences are bound to Christ and are thus free. While we may strongly disagree with some of the positions taken by Lutheran CORE, we nevertheless recognize and respect other people's consciences bound in the same way as ours but coming to different conclusions. This is not always easy for any of us. Frankly, it's really difficult most of the time. We work hard to find ways to engage gracefully on issues that divide us and look for ways to include all of God's children in the full life of the church. And by "all" we mean all.

    The resolution from the Upper Iowa River Conference refers to Lutheran CORE’s formation of a “free standing synod.” Unfortunately, there has been much confusion about what CORE intends “synod” to mean. It is our understanding that CORE uses the word “synod” differently than the ELCA does. For CORE, the term means something akin to the Greek root-meaning of the word: to “walk together” or to “gather.” As they have said on a number of occasions, they see themselves as an “association” of Lutherans “spanning denominational bodies.” In structural terms, that’s pretty similar to how Lutherans Concerned/North America sees itself. Slovak Zion (the comparison you made, Kit) is not that kind of synod.

    Kit, you comment that the resolution refers to those who are “redirecting mission support away from the churchwide organization.” But the resolution doesn’t actually say that. Rather, the resolution is much broader, referring to “all rostered and lay leaders who are members of CORE.” The resolution explicitly holds up mere *membership* in Lutheran CORE as a sufficient reason for removing certain people from the full life of the church. Yet isn’t it quite possible that some members of Lutheran CORE have not redirected support? Isn't it possible that some have not counseled that congregations should leave the ELCA?

    [continued in next comment]

  4. [continued from above]

    For many who are members of CORE, membership means they are in disagreement with the decisions taken at the 2009 Churchwide Assembly regarding the social statement and changes to ministry policies. Not all members have elevated their disagreement to take on forms of corporate opposition. Even if some of the leaders of CORE have encouraged financial withholding, being a member in the organization headed by those leaders is not the same thing as actually withholding money.

    Kit, we acknowledge that it’s possible the drafters of this resolution meant things to be understood more along the lines you suggest: i.e. that those who have acted against the constitution should be held accountable. However, when it comes to resolutions, which are public statements calling for certain actions, the intentions of the writers are not the issue. Furthermore, only the “resolved” portions of a resolution have any legislative bearing. Once a resolution is adopted, the “whereas” sections are completely disregarded, no matter what they say. We must respond to the words actually written. Yes, we should hold people accountable for their hurtful words or actions, but their memberships are just . . . . associations.

    Many of us in LC/NA, and many who have supported our ministy over the years, have felt the sting of being shut out of one aspect or another of the life of congregations, synods, and the churchwide organization—-just because we have taken principled stances for the sake of LGBT people and their families. Indeed, at some times and in some places, some church members have been frozen out simply because of their association with LC/NA and its mission. We must work to avoid repeating past mistakes and hurts.

    As much as we may disagree with what some leaders within CORE have encouraged, we are yet deeply committed to finding ways to live faithfully together with the whole people of Christ.

    In Christ's name,

    Ross Murray
    Associate Director
    Lutherans Concerned/North America


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