The move from ELCA to LCMC

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Two helpful speakers address the reason to move from the ELCA.
Chaplain (Brigadier General) Victor C. Langford III (Ret) Pastor, St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, Seattle, Washington spoke to our congregation about the NALC. St. Mark’s Lutheran voted to leave the ELCA and they have joined NALC which is similar to LCMC except they have bishop.
Click here to listen.

Pastor Paul Owens spoke to our congregation about the LCMC
Click here to listen.

updated September 7, 2013
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We are not alone!
LCMC Churches in Washington
22 churches in Washington have joined LCMC.
16 of those churches are in western Washington.
North Bay Lutheran Allyn
Our Saviour’s Lutheran Burien
Our Saviour’s Lutheran Cathlamet
Zion Lutheran Kent
Church of the Redeemer Chimacum
Christ the Servant Lacey
Emmanuel Lutheran Longview
Harbor of Hope Lopez Island
Naselle Lutheran Naselle
First Lutheran Paulsbo
Living Word Lutheran Puyallup
St. Mark’s Lutheran Rochester
St. Paul’s of Shorewood Seattle
Denny Park Lutheran Seattle
Our Saviour’s Stanwood
Central Lutheran Tacoma
These six Eastern Washington Churches are members of the LCMC synod.
Christ Lutheran Odessa
Richland Lutheran Richland
Selbu Lutheran Lacrosse
Amazing Grace Lutheran Spokane Valley
Emmanuel Lutheran Walla Walla
United Lutheran Waterville
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Prince of Peace Lutheran Everett left the ELCA and joined NALC
(North American Lutheran Church) This synod is similar to LCMC except they have a bishop.
St. Mark’s Seattle also left the ELCA and joined NALC
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The Results of Voting

The first vote on whether to sever our membership with the ELCA was held, Sunday, June 13, 2010. The vote was 189 YES votes to sever membership with the ELCA and 45 NO votes to not sever our membership with the ELCA.  The yes votes won by 80.7 %

The second vote was on Sunday, September 19th and the vote was 88% in favor of leaving the ELCA and joining LCMC. LCMC stands for Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ. After much research it was clear that LCMC is faithful to traditional Christian and Lutheran doctrines. LCMC also has a governance structure that allows congregational members to vote on changes. This bottom up structure is a good check to prevent false teachings. The ELCA has a governance structure that is top down.

The decision to leave the ELCA was a difficult one, but after attending NW Washington Synod Assemblies it was becoming more and more clear that the ELCA had strayed a long way from Christian and Lutheran doctrine. Our task force spent nine months researching what the ELCA believes. The ELCA website under a section “What we Believe” and a subsection “Dig Deeper” made it exceedingly clear the foundations of Lutheran doctrine had been left for a more modern social gospel. (The ELCA website has recently been changed with ‘dig deeper’ deleted and ‘What we Believe’ edited so as to not cause concern.) As individual members researched the beliefs about salvation, scriptural authority, Jesus, virgin birth, inspiration of scripture and many more fundamentals of our faith on the ELCA website, they were shocked. The research clearly showed that this was not a recent change, but had started over ten years ago. Over the past ten years the ELCA has moved far far away from the beliefs we hold dear.

Although Our Saviour’s Lutheran of Stanwood Washington was the first in the NW Washington ELCA Synod to leave, other churches in our synod have taken first votes or are discussing the need to find out what is really happening with the ELCA. Christ the King of Everett is the second church in our synod to leave the ELCA. As of October 2011 there are 656 member churches of LCMC. In Washington State there are 22 LCMC churches and 2 NALC churches who have left the ELCA. Most of these churches are in NW Washington. Other churches are in the process of forums, discussions and voting to leave the ELCA

There is a strong positive enthusiasm and a new energy for ministry. We’ve added 50 new members and another ‘new-member class’ is adding another 20 members. There are 20 youth beginning confirmation which is a much larger group than years past. The choir is growing and the men have an active monthly ministry in Platinum Chefs. (Check out the newsletter for details.) The first Friday of each month September through May, at 11 a.m. 20 men gather to make a delicious recipe. Fourty men travelled from our church to Ingall’s Creek Retreat Center (about 10 miles from Leavenworth WA) for our first OSLC men’s retreat in September 2013. The men’s groups are growing in numbers on becoming courageous and authentic men. Our church hosts “The Gathering Place” each Thursday evening for a no charge meal offered to the needs of the community. About 70 people come for the meal. Youth for Christ is using our Youth House for the Spot. The Spot is for ‘at risk’ youth and serves many needs and introduces youth to Christ. New plans are in the works for a better than ever Christmas House to provide clothing for the needy. We are a sponsor of ‘Safe Harbor’ which offers free/low cost medical services to families without insurance. Other than that, very little has changed at Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church because of our affiliation change. The only noticeable change is on our sign in front of the church. Another change is where our benevolence is sent. It has changed from sending a yearly amount to the ELCA synod to sending benevolence directly to those in need. We continue to contribute to Lutheran World Relief, use Lutherwood and send youth groups to Holden Village. Our weekly attendance is up substantially and offerings are much better than last year. For the first time in recent history we met our 2012 budget and projections are that we will meet the budget this year! During the Easter season, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and three Easter services, the sanctuary was filled. God is blessing our church richly.

The Spirit of God is alive and well in our church. Visitors and new-comers validate a positive welcoming spirit of God in our church.

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Here is a letter written by Pastor Bankson to the congregation before the second vote was taken.

“The ELCA – The Music Doesn’t Sound the Same”

Last weekend, Isaiah and I were driving to Mt. Pilchuck Tree Farm for a mountain biking adventure. On our way, we heard a song on the radio that had hints of familiarity, yet was distinctly different. When the song was over, we were told that it was played by the band, “Jars of Clay”. I told Isaiah that it didn’t really sound like the same band that I had enjoyed and been familiar with over the years. Isaiah said, “That’s because all the original band members no longer play in the group.” Over time, one by one, each of the four members, for whatever reason, fell away from the group. Now, the group carries the same name, but the music that is played has a distinctly different sound. As we made our way to Mt. Pilchuck, I couldn’t help but feel a connection between the Christian band and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The music the ELCA is playing today has a hint of familiarity, yet it is distinctly different.

I was ordained on September 3, 1989, almost exactly twenty years ago, into a newly born Lutheran denomination called the ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America). This newly formed denomination brought together three smaller Lutheran bodies into one. The ideology of this merger focused upon that which united us, rather than the minor difference that separated us. The four foundational building blocks apart of historic Lutheranism and included in this merger were; 1) Scripture Alone, 2) Grace Alone, 3) Faith Alone, and 4) the Priesthood of all believers. While every Lutheran church and pastor will confess allegiance to these primary essentials, after 20 years of being together, the tune of the church sounds different and the lyrics seem to have a different meaning in this national church body.

The ELCA has been forging a new identity. The crafting and shaping has not been one that has happened overnight. Over the last two decades, shaping this new identity has been strategic and methodical by its leadership. The acceptance of blessing same gender unions and allowing congregations to call clergy in committed, same gender relationships is simply another striking of the hammer in sculpting a new look of Lutheranism in the United States.

Personally, I see a church attempting to adapt to a turbulent and unstable cultural crisis. I see a church trying to reach out to those who have been marginalized by society. I also see a church, in a time of heightened confusion and anxiety losing touch with its original musical score and the lyrics that have kept Lutheranism grounded in the truth.

Scripture Alone: 2 Timothy 3:16-17 states, “All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction and for training in righteousness, so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work.” Our ELCA constitution states, This church accepts the canonical Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments as the inspired Word of God and the authoritative source and norm of its proclamation, faith and life. (ELCA Constitution 2.03).

On the ELCA website; “What We Believe – The Bible”, the new tune sounds like this:
“Because Biblical writers, editors and compilers were limited by their times and world views, even as we are, the Bible contains material wedded to those times and places. It also means that writers sometimes provide differing and even contradictory views of God’s word, ways, and will . . .” So also, “Listening to the living Jesus in the context of the church, we therefore have the task of deciding among these. Having done listening, we sometimes conclude either that the writer’s culture or personal experience (e.g. subordination of women or keeping of slaves) seems to have prompted his missing what God was saying or doing, or that God is now saying or doing something new.”

The ELCA’s view of scripture has been shifting. It seems to me that as the ELCA has immersed itself in the “historical critical method” for examining scripture, over time an under current of “distrust” for the Bible has surfaced. While the historical method has been of fair value, for some reason, a heightening “critical” approach and skepticism has evolved toward the authority and application of God’s Word. Regarding issues of uncertainty, in the past, a dependency upon God’s Word would prevail. Today, as the scriptures are scrutinized to the point of disregard, much greater dependence is placed upon human reason, scientific research and one’s conscience. These later approaches are the “inspired” tools used during the sexuality study and analysis. While I am not advocating disregarding the “sitz in leben” (the original context, setting) and other tools to study scripture, clearly the pendulum has swung in the extreme direction of human reason and away from divine revelation.

Faith Alone: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith…” (Ephesians 2:8a) Faith has been the historic, accepted, rightful response to God’s gracious gift of salvation. In the ELCA, there is a strand of thought being sown in our church that faith in Jesus Christ is an optional response in receiving salvation. It seems to point to a type of universal salvation which points away from historic Christian understanding. From the newly written Lutheran Study Bible, commentary regarding Matthew 28:16-20 states, “…Jesus now sends the disciples to make disciples of all nations. That does not mean make everyone disciples…. Jesus includes in salvation people who do not believe in him or even know him….” This new commentary suggests that faith in Jesus is not necessary for salvation and leads to weakening the necessity to make disciples of Christ.

Priesthood of All Believers: In 1999, the ELCA ratified CCM (Called To Common Mission) and entered into full communion with the Episcopal Church USA. By doing so, the ELCA adopted an Episcopalian understanding of the priesthood, hierarchal structures and accepted the “historic episcopate” which affirms a person only through apostolic succession can be a bishop and validly ordain clergy. This shift in practice challenges the Lutheran understanding of the priesthood and that “all Christians” stand on equal ground before God.

Social Statement on Sexuality: Last month, the National Assembly voted to affirm the blessing of same gender unions, and to enable congregations to call clergy in active, same gender relationships. This vote was a major stepping out in forging its new identity.
This acceptance steps away from over 4,100 years of Judeo-Christian understanding regarding prohibitions to sexual relations. Genesis, Jesus and St. Paul all recognize marriage as a covenant, established by God between a man and a woman. But let us be clear; the Bible speaks against all sexual related activities that would threaten the marriage covenant. This includes divorce, living together before marriage, sex before marriage, sex with family members, relatives and in-laws – so also, pornographic indulgences and any other sexual predatory behavior. None of us are outside the effects of sexual sin. Our culture, as other cultures before us have been seduced into the miry blog (bog) of sexual idolatry. Thus are we condemned? No, for there is no condemnation in Christ Jesus. Faith in Jesus Christ is our pathway to salvation and a right relationship with God. Jesus is the apex through which we see and understand the nature of God. Jesus arrived on the earth full of grace and truth. (John 1:14) It is critical that we understand the nature and the sequence with which Jesus came. The church must follow in like manner. We must meet every heart wrenching circumstance and individual with Christlike grace and love. We also meet each situation with Christlike truth that points to the nature of God’s Kingdom and our aligning ourselves with God’s Will in order that His name is glorified.

Shall we at Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church stay and be a part of the dialog and the new identity of the ELCA? It is no secret that heightened discussions have been taking place over the past decade and that now formal decisions have been made. We have much soul searching to do and much prayer to offer to God in our deliberations.

In Christ, Pastor Mark

( P.S. – If you are unfamiliar with some of the church terms i.e. “Called To Common Mission” etc., most can be found on Wikipedia.com)