As you know, Bethlehem and St. Paul are part of a larger fellowship, a church body known as the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). We are also part of a regional portion of the ELCA, called the Western Iowa Synod (WIS). As congregations, we are active, supportive members of both the ELCA and the WIS, participating in their assemblies and giving substantial monetary support.

        In May, WIS held their annual assembly. In August there will be the Nationwide Assembly of the ELCA. Craig Clemons and I attended WIS’s assembly in Sioux City (along with Barb Brundige and Dorothy Jensen from St. Paul). I will be in attendance on August 16-23, as an observer, when the ELCA assembly meets in Minneapolis.

        I ask you to pray fervently for the church in all its expressions – the congregation, the synod, the ELCA, and the whole Christian church on earth, as the Nationwide Assembly draws near. For once again, votes are going to be taken on what the church should teach about homosexuality. Personally, I find it incredible and offensive that we are being forced to deal with this yet again. Multiple times, the ELCA has voted to remain faithful to the Bible’s teaching that homosexual sexual activity and relationships are to be avoided and discouraged as contrary to God’s will. But those who wish to pressure the church into changing this stance refuse to give up, harassing the church with relentless petitions to reconsider the issue over and over again.

And so the churchwide assembly will once again debate this issue and vote on it (as we did at WIS‘s assembly in May). The potential for damage is great. If the ELCA’s teaching is officially changed, it will do the following things, and more:

                1. It will distance the church from the Bible;

                2. It will damage the unity of the church even more severely than this debate already has done, both within the ELCA and in the ELCA’s relationships to other Christian churches throughout the world;

                3. I expect it will cause current ongoing membership losses to continue and accelerate;

                4. It will mislead young people in their sexuality, giving them one less anchor in a tossing sea of hormones, emotions, and cultural uncertainties.

I have been struggling with how we should respond to these issues. I am a part of a Lutheran organization known as “Lutheran CORE”, which is an independent group working within the ELCA to convince the church to remain faithful to the Bible, and to cease reconsidering this issue. The following is an open letter to the ELCA that addresses these issues. I believe the vast majority of Lutherans within the ELCA agree with this position. I hope the ELCA listens to us when they meet in Minneapolis is August.

Your friend in Christ,

Pastor Ron